Due to necessity, Donald Trump has, single-handedly, contained or successfully negotiated with North Korea, China, Mexico and Russia.
Mr. Trump has also stopped Iran in its tracks with no help from Republicans in Congress and while fighting against a totally destructive opposition from Democrats and the mainstream fake news media.
The US President has given a true lesson on how to negotiate from a position of power and win every time.
In the most recent battle, Trump defeated a long established Mexican policy of porous borders. Trump was as firm and clear as he was on other occasions with China, Russia, Iran, and Syria, to cite some examples.
On Friday night, after eight days under the threat of a tariff war, the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador accepted the deployment of thousands of soldiers to Mexico’s southern border at the line that separates his country with Guatemala. He also accepted to send back 8,000 asylum seekers, mainly Central Americans, who crossed the Mexican territory with their compasses set north.
López Obrador also promised to accelerate deportations. For the rest, no other point is clear regarding the pact. It is also unclear when will the policies negotiated in Washington come into force. No one knows global objectives nor the deadline to achieve them, either.
A document written after the end of the negotiation details some measures that Mexico had already begun to apply, the hard hand that López Obrador wanted to avoid upon reaching the government, but now they have become binding and have offered the US government the story that Trump was looking for.
Americans watched their president launching a shower of criticisms against the neighboring country over the last 20 days and now they celebrate Mexico’s claudication.
This is a perfect opportunity to obtain political revenue because it is clear that this issue [immigration] is very important for the electorate and, especially, for the Republican President.
It’s all about a calculation on his chances of re-election to the White House.
Diplomacy first but also a strong hand when necessary
Trump’s heavy-handed diplomacy works with Mexico, heavily dependent on exports to the United States.
Things get complicated in front of China or Europe, but any progress achieved on those fronts can be capitalized well in the face of Trump’s reelection in 2020, while the financial markets do not penalize their broadsides in commercial matters.
For Adam Posen, president of the Peterson Institute of International Economics, the Republican plays with fire. The use of tariffs as a mechanism of pressure in the immigration debate has marked a turning point.
“If tariffs can be raised unilaterally, by presidential decree, linking it to the border policy instead of the economic relationship, the markets will realize that the president may not comply with their trade agreements with China or Mexico,” he explains.
But markets, for the time being, have scarcely penalized commercial conflict and the so-called real economy – the productive one, which operates on the margins of financial markets – has not yet suffered significant effects from the situation.
The damages farmers have suffered in some products due to reprisals in China have been limited and the Administration has responded with millionaire aid.
The president of the United States has embarked on this battle during an unusually long cycle of the US economy, which this month marks 10 years of uninterrupted growth and that in July will beat the record of the longest period with positive data.
No analysis of commercial Trumpism can obviate this fact, nor that China is not a mere obsession with the tycoon.
The hard-line policy against the Xi Jinping regime has so far attracted broad bipartisan support in the United States, at a time when consensus among Republicans and Democrats is a rarity.
“Stay hard with China, President Trump, do not back down. Strength is the only way to win with China,” wrote the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, who, days before had mocked Trump’s threats against Mexico as a bluff. He was wrong, again.
For the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, which is today one of Trump’s great scourges, his tariff escalation against Beijing “is an acknowledgment that something must be done.”
Washington tries to reach an agreement with China while tightening the levies on its products.
On May 10, it raised the existing tariffs on thousands of Chinese products, valued at US$200,000 million, from 10% to 25%, to which Beijing responded with an increase of the same caliber to US$ 60,000 million worth of products.
As the Republican president has intensified his battle, criticism from Democrats and Republicans has begun to emerge, but few people question that the position against the Asian giant has to be changed.
The pending battles
The economic integration of China, which has become the world’s leading exporter, has not led to the process of democratization that Western governments could expect.
In 2018, the Chinese legislature passed a constitutional reform that allows President Xi Jinping to remain in command of the Communist Party and exert an increasing influence on the economy and society.
For years, foreign companies have been forced to share technology and partner with local businesses and subsidies have damaged competition.
The question is if Trump can go alone to this battle against the Asian giant and if it is a good idea to demand more from old European allies and say that “they are as bad as China, only smaller”, as he did last summer.
In the technological pulse related to 5G technology, the American President is going at it alone; as only three of the thirty US military allies have vetoed Huawei.
The migration challenge offers more political revenues to Trump. The problem is real: only last May, US agents arrested more than 144,000 migrants, which is the maximum in 13 years.
The New Yorker formally launches his candidacy for re-election to the White House next week and it is easy to warn that Mexico and this latest crisis created and resolved by him in eight days will come to light.
On Saturday, López Obrador claimed to be a “pacifist” inspired by Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela.
Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that Mexico had also agreed to buy more American agricultural products. It is not known where he got that from, because it did not appear in the written summary of the agreement, but it does not matter.
If so-called experts, historians and political analysts thought that the world had more of a chance of being multipolar, they were wrong, again. Trump and the United States continue to hold power.
That is good as long as Trump is in the White House, because the President does not respond to any globalist interest, and because, since his arrival in Washington, he has fulfilled many of the promises made during the campaign, despite the obstacles presented to him by the Republicans, the Democrats, and an increasingly dishonest press.