By now no one should be surprised with the trade wars waged by Trump Administration on anyone. In many respects Trump's approach to international relations and trade is reminiscent of chaotic convulsions of the seriously injured ER patient and should not be treated as thought-out strategy. As I stated not for once--there is none. So, yet again threats and sour grapes:
The US is floating the idea of slapping tariffs on $11bn (£8.4bn) worth of products from the European Union. The move, which would escalate trade tensions between the US and EU, is a retaliation to European aircraft subsidies after the World Trade Organisation (WTO) said that the subsidies have an adverse impact on the US. Late on Monday, the US Trade Representative (USTR) delivered a proposed list of goods that could be hit by the tariffs. The list include everything from cheese to salmon fillets, and wine to helicopters. The USTR said that the value of the products that are proposed to be hit by tariffs is subject to an arbitration at the WTO. It will take several months to come to a conclusion.
What this piece forgot to mention, of course, is a symptomatic US reaction, which seeks to mitigate the effect of 800-pound gorilla in the room--a major FUBAR by Boeing with 737 Max. It is all about Boeing and Airbus:
No matter how one wants to spin this whole situation but there is no doubt whatsoever about Airbus benefiting from 737Max situation which has been, as bad as it was with so many human lives lost in two crashes, exacerbated by inept behavior of Boeing's PR people who dragged the issue for too long to have a sensible recovery--instead of admitting problem with 737 Max and rushing to fix it with maximum publicity, Boeing got embroiled in the PR disaster which IS having serious ramifications for Boeing's main money-maker, no matter how one tries to spin it. This is not to speak of those proverbial "subsidies". It is just the matter of perception and of newspeak--Boeing is also "subsidized" by government contracts. Nothing is wrong with that. So this whole "subsidies" thing is nothing more than a PR BS for consumption of free trade fundamentalists. US accusing Airbus of subsidies is akin to pot calling the kettle (black). Boeing should recall its "win" over Airbus.
Needless to say, Boeing commercial aircraft are main, together with cars and semi-conductors, United States global hi-tech industrial export. It is also most prestigious and image-supporting article of US economic clout. Now it suffered a major blow and Trump decided to deal with the issue in the best traditions of New York real estate shyster. Obviously, global community does not operate on such principles and Washington is getting messages about that with increasing frequency. Enter Russia.
Moscow (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart on Monday discussed a missile deal slammed by the US as well as closer military cooperation during a visit by Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Moscow. The two sides must "strengthen cooperation in the military-technical sphere," Putin told Erdogan as they met in the Kremlin. "These regard first of all the completion of the contract to supply S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems to Turkey," he said. "There are other promising projects on the agenda related to the supply of modern Russian military products to Turkey," Putin added.
Could Russia offer Turkey SU-57 fighter? Possible. Erdogan says Turkey would love to have S-500 in the end. So, who knows what Putin and Erdogan discussed behind closed doors but it is clear that even S-400 can close skies over Turkey for any contingency, including Ankara or Istanbul being bombed by Turkey's very own allies from NATO. This issue, with Turkey's S-400 purchase, however is just one of many other gigantic irritants for the United States, be that Egypt's purchase of SU-35s, US sanctions, sure as hell, will follow, or India, apart from buying those pesky S-400, adding today additional batch of T-90 tanks, to already contracted 464 units (in Russian). So much for Russia being isolated. But that is the whole point: Trump and his advisers act as if the United States is an industrial powerhouse it used to be in the immediate post-WW II period. These United States do not exist anymore and are gone for good. Even the United States of 1990s are not here anymore. Trump may start with getting an accurate assessment of American economy, real economy that is, and figuring out how come that the United States is the largest importer of finished goods in the world--$2.1 trillion.
But, of course, there is a political downside to all these trade wars--people around the world are not stupid and they see these convulsions, erratic behavior and threats from the US as a sign of weakness and they are absolutely correct. Tariffs and trade wars are not going to help the US out of her deep economic hole, but it seems that Trump doesn't understand this, as well as the process of the United States declining into geopolitical irrelevance in a face of the fait accompli of multi-polarity and Eurasia going her own way in development in which the United States has only two options: join or try to sabotage it and we all know where it is going so far. It may change but not till present US "elites" are in power. Do they even know where they are today economically and geopolitically? Some of them surely do know. But even those who know--they have no ability, intellect and passion to steer America in the right direction for the sake of majority of her people. And so the bullying, threatening, hand twisting, sanctioning continues and will continue with less and less effect. The main issue today is to prevent, once those in power in the US understand completely that their gig is up, a global war which the US may initiate as the last resort. I guess, and I only guess, that Putin didn't say the last word on newest weapons. Something tells me that the season of surprises is only at the very beginning.