March 27, 2018

Trump or Dare and Trade War Games

Shankkar Aiyar, Visiting Senior Fellow at IDFC Institute, writes on Donald Trump and his politics in this New Indian Express article. Excerpts:


"The legendary writer James Joyce once said, “I’ve put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant.” He was discussing the character Penelope, in Ulysses. He could well have been characterizing Trumpism—US President Donald Trump and his politics. The cliché about Trump is that during the elections those who opposed him took him literally but not seriously, while his supporters took him seriously but not literally.  In power now for 14 months, Donald Trump continues to befuddle—what is to be taken seriously, what must be taken literally, when is he to be taken seriously and literally, and the when is he not to be taken seriously or literally. The interpretation of Trump is virtually a cottage industry spawning columns and books. To paraphrase what Churchill said of, well, Russia, Trumpism is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. 


In the past three weeks, the US President has sacked three of his top advisers—on the economy, on foreign affairs and on national security—Gary Cohen, Rex Tillerson and H R McMaster. Since the inauguration, nearly two dozen significant staffers have departed. The theme song invariably is about affiliation and loyalty, acquiescence and devotion to the desires of the president. 


On Thursday, Trump took to Twitter, that go to medium for narrative management. He tweeted, “As a candidate, I pledged that if elected I would use every lawful tool to combat unfair trade, protect American workers, and defend our national security”, and announced punitive duties on Chinese products worth over $50 billion. It was not unexpected. His March 2 tweet said it all: “When we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!” Neither was the Chinese response—imposing its own set of tariffs."


Read the full article here.

x Close Window

Please verify your email address to access this content