Submitted by admin on Wed, 11/16/2016 - 16:48
Second Amendment


Dear Friends,

Quite a bit to share with you this week. Sorry about that.

The world has not yet come to terms with the phenomenon of Trump. President Obama is on a world tour, perhaps to reassure US allies that Trump is not the wild card that he projected in the campaign. This was Obama's message in his press conference before he departed for Greece, where - on the streets of Athens - he was met with people angry about austerity and the Washington Consensus.

Meanwhile, CNN leaked sections of Trump's transition document - the main section being on trade. It calls for a repeal of NAFTA and a 45% tariff on Chinese goods. I did a brief radio interview on this leaked document, which shows the incoherence of Trump's economic nationalism. Could Alexander Hamilton's Report on Manufacturers (1791) be applicable in the age of the global commodity chain? What would a US exit from NAFTA and China presage? That is what the interview, which you could listen to here, explores.

Tongue firmly in cheek, I wondered about how Trump would raise the money for his promised infrastructure development in the US (price tag: $3.2 trillion). His own party fellows in the US Congress are averse to deficit financing unless it is in the cause of war and prisons. They prefer to let the 'animal spirits' take charge of the economy. To explore the possibilities of Trump's economic agenda, I wondered - in the Daily Hampshire Gazette - if Trump, in his High Tower, would consider asking Bernie to join his cabinet. After all, most presidents have someone from the opposing party in their cabinets - Republicans generally give them low profile positions (Norm Minetta got Transportation in the Bush II cabinet), while Democrats honour Republicans with top posts (William Cohen under Clinton and Robert Gates under Obama took the Defense post). At any rate, this is a conceit to show how Trump's economic plan is fated to failure, which is going to lead to a great deal of social toxicity. You can read it here. I had first explored this idea on public radio's WorldView, where Jerome McDonald asked me about the impact of neoliberal policy and the surge of the Right in the West. In the show, which you could listen to here, I explore - in 15 minutes, so it is brief - the contradictions of Trump's agenda.



Finally, in Alternet, I have an essay on Trump's incoherence on the Middle East. Having interviewed a few of his advisors on the region, I find it hard to understand how he plans to both befriend Russia and isolate Iran. Seems to me that he will have a hard time doing both. You can read the column here.

Also, one thing I don't raise in the column, is if Trump pursues his anti-Muslim policy within the United States, this will have an impact in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world. I asked a few Saudi officials how the kingdom - the custodian of the holy sites - would react to such a ban. They were coy. I suspect they are also in a wait and see posture.

Warmly, Vijay.