FT “Donald Trump’s trade tirades show his mastery of the message”

Thanks Rana, an excellent perspective. Let’s first dispense with that I consider Trump to be completely unfit for the office he occupies and consider him to be the largest actual threat to US national security and international well being.

Having said that though, he is striking out with energy and agenda in an indomitable way and is well underway to change the postwar order into something nobody has any inkling about. The analysts that I follow disagree on the shape of things to come more strongly than ever before and that’s easy to understand because the chaos has increased greatly and didn’t start with Trump in the US but more likely is a product of our own social species and global historical circumstances. Humanity seems to have forgotten we ever had it this good; Yuval Noah Harari is better at explaining this than me but the number of people who don’t die of war and disease is historically low and life expectancy, access to education, healthcare and wealth historically high. We’ve never had it this good. Yet there are good reasons to expect that we’re heading towards a crisis what with AI and robotics, the globalized internet dialogue, climate change, divergent birth rates between populations, China’s crisis, debt-dependency and inequality conspiring to upend the order.

What we now learn is that the world has no vision if the US Presidency has no vision. We followed along with FDR, Eisenhower, JFK, Reagan, Clinton and Bush et al in their post-war course because we wanted to or had to: there was no alternative worthy of considering or competition and now with Trump effectively disowning the US global leadership position, we don’t know what to do next. One thing seems certain, whomever is the next president be it in 2 or 6 years, isn’t going to return the US to halcyon FDR, JFK, Reagan or Clinton days (depending on one’s generation and political inclination), they’re going to move forward into a world that continues to be insecure, continues to face stunningly vast challenges (especially in climate change and AI) but seems likely to continue along the capitalist-scientific path.

What seems certain also is that the US still is the only place where real, open, virulent debate (take MeToo) takes place on a scale large enough to effect international outcomes because they’re increasingly pushed via the internet into everyone’s awareness.

Trump more than any postwar (WW2) President breaks with tradition but cannot by himself push the US from its trajectory which like it or not is dominated by the culture and initiative of the coastal states and large cities where people seem energized by the political and cultural struggle.