Friday, May 1, 2020

Donald Trump Goes Absolutely Bonkers Over China

Yesterday President Trump erupted with a series of demands and threat against China, focusing on various claims about its role in the current pandemic.  I have here noted some issues with China's conduct, but Trump makes it completely impossible that there will be any of the much-needed cooperation between the US and China to overcome this virus.  He has gone absolutely bonkers.

He has now threatened to remove China's sovereign immunity so people can sue it, with a former lawyer of his organization, George Sorial  now of Berman and Associates, cooking up a class action suit against China; a threat to stop paying interest on US bonds held by China, which he probably will not do because it occurs to him that this default on the US national debt might "damage the sacred standing of the dollar" duh; and finally to impose yet more tariffs on China, a threat that promptly sent the stock market plunging after several days of rising, although we know he really likes putting tariffs on China. Probably the first of these would be the least harmful and the most likely he will do, very noisy but not amounting to too muc in the end as China will just ignore it.

I note that in this press conference he claimed that he has seen intelligence showing a "high probability" that the virus came out of a Wuhan lab.  So far no other sources have said that, although by all reports that possibility has not been ruled out.  But by this almost certain lie Trump has almost certainly killed any remaining chance that China might cooperate with the US on really determining the ultimate origin of the virus, something that would be scientifically and medically useful. It may be that this origin will be discovered, but it will not be through such cooperation.  It is completely reasonable that China will resist something they perceive as possibly leading to them being denounced and sued.

My own theory as to what triggered yesteeday's outburst is that he reportedly blew up at his campaign chied, Brad Parscal, onWedneday when Parscale reportedly showed him serious polls showing him losing to Biden in most of the swing states. He apparently was yelling and using the "f word."  of course public polling has been showing this for a long time, but Trump has apparenly up until Wednesday simply ignored or written off such polls.  In any case, this going after China big time and hard looks to me to be his response to these bad polls, a desperate attempt to regain an electoral edge by an aggressive foreign policy, one that is potentially very dangerous and damaging in this current situation, which apparently some of his economic advisers understand.  But he is reportedly now leaning to his national security hardliners like SecState Mike Pompeo.  This is not at all good news.

Barkley Rossr

PS: Happy May Day everybody!

16 comments:

ken melvin said...

Bring me someone to blame.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Unfortunately it now seems to be a long list, Ken.

Really, I think in an earlier era, not really all that long ago, the leading powers had leaders who would have risen above their ongoing conflicts and cooperated to deal with the global crisis, which this clearly is.

However, that is not at all the case now, with the leaders of both the current leading powers (G2 anybody?) completely failing to follow this former model of world leadership and responsibility.

Anonymous said...

https://twitter.com/JChengWSJ/status/1256478780794613761

Jonathan Cheng @JChengWSJ

U.S. government to University of Texas: Tell us everything about your ties with the Wuhan Institute of Virology. And to the Chinese Communist Party. And to Huawei. And PetroChina. And the Chinese-American guy who started Zoom.

@Kate_OKeeffe

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-probes-university-of-texas-links-to-chinese-lab-scrutinized-over-coronavirus-11588325401

The Education Department has asked the University of Texas System to provide documentation of its dealings with the Chinese laboratory U.S. officials are investigating as a potential source of the coronavirus pandemic.

3:01 AM · May 2, 2020

Anonymous said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/30/us/politics/trump-administration-intelligence-coronavirus-china.html

April 30, 2020

Trump Officials Are Said to Press Spies to Link Virus and Wuhan Labs
Some analysts are worried that the pressure from senior officials could distort assessments about the coronavirus and be used as a weapon in an escalating battle with China.
By Mark Mazzetti, Julian E. Barnes, Edward Wong and Adam Goldman

WASHINGTON — Senior Trump administration officials have pushed American spy agencies to hunt for evidence to support an unsubstantiated theory that a government laboratory in Wuhan, China, was the origin of the coronavirus outbreak, according to current and former American officials. The effort comes as President Trump escalates a public campaign to blame China for the pandemic....

Anonymous said...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/05/01/trump-china-biden-election/

May 1, 2020

Pete Buttigieg: China wants four more years of Trump
The president claims he’s been tough. But our geopolitical rival has grown stronger on his watch.

[ Republicans and Democrats are intent on madly bashing each other for not trying hard enough to bash the people of China. ]

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Pretty clearly rhe current Trump pressure on the US intel ageencies makes questionable anything that they come up with. He has effectively destroyed any possibillity of a case on his charge being taken seriously by these actions.

Anonymous said...

Barkley Rosser:

Pretty clearly the current Trump pressure on the US intel agencies makes questionable anything that they come up with....

[ No matter, US intel agencies will come up with just what the president wishes to use to attack the Chinese.

In related fashion:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/01/us/politics/trump-health-department-watchdog.html

May 1, 2020

Trump Moves to Replace Watchdog Who Identified Critical Medical Shortages
The president announced the nomination of an inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, who, if confirmed, would replace an acting official whose report embarrassed Mr. Trump.
By Peter Baker

WASHINGTON — President Trump moved on Friday night to replace a top official at the Department of Health and Human Services who angered him with a report last month highlighting supply shortages and testing delays at hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic.... ]

Anonymous said...

https://twitter.com/DeanBaker13/status/1256632513570603008

Dean Baker @DeanBaker13

Why would anyone in their right mind trust anything from Trump run intelligence agencies? Trump fires anyone who will challenge him. We all know that, he is completely public about that

John Roberts @johnrobertsFox

A Senior Intelligence Source tells me there is agreement among most of the 17 Intelligence agencies that COVID-19 originated in the Wuhan lab. The source stressed that the release is believed to be a MISTAKE, and was not intentional.

1:11 PM · May 2, 2020

[ Presto, the president has the intelligence he wanted. The point is attack the Chinese who the president has been attacking from the beginning of the last campaign. ]

Peter Dorman said...

Barkley, I read that NYT piece about Trump screaming at his advisors differently from you. Yes, the latest round of polls show Trump at risk. His advisors want him to go on the offensive against Biden. According to the report, however, Trump is convinced he can destroy Biden, and he doesn't want to do it until it's too late for the Democrats to find a replacement. "I'm not losing to fucking Biden!" That could be considered an expression of extreme optimism. His advisors may think he's nuts by laying off, and that could be a source of friction.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Peter,

Well he clearly got upset, and it looks to me that he got scared. Such would readily explain him trying to find something to energize his poll numbers, which we know he is obsessed with. Going after China certainly looks like something he thinks might do the trick. Unfortunately it looks like Biden will be responding in kind, claiming Trump to actually be "soft on China" thanks to remarks he made previously complimentingn Xi. This campaign will get ugly and possibly dangerous, if it has not already done so.

Anonymous said...

Barkley Rosser:

Going after China certainly looks like something he thinks might do the trick. Unfortunately it looks like Biden will be responding in kind, claiming Trump to actually be "soft on China" thanks to remarks he made previously complimenting Xi....

[ Agreed and very, very frightening. ]

Anonymous said...

Secretary Pompeo is today setting the stage for the attacks on the Chinese people, though Pompeo has always attacked the Chinese. We have a return to the well-worn Republican turn to racism as a campaign tactic, but the fostering of racism will of course last beyond the campaign. Again, this is just the way in which Jews were repeatedly attacked in Europe in the midst of outbreaks of illness. And the point is not attacking the Chinese government or a Chinese political party but the people of China. Simply listen to President Trump and the language of "rape" and theft" and on:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/02/us/politics/vaccines-coronavirus-research.html

The U.S. government is already warning that American innovations must be protected from theft — chiefly from Beijing....

Anonymous said...

https://twitter.com/SecPompeo/status/1257022823882727425

Secretary Pompeo@SecPompeo

China has a history of infecting the world and they have a history of running substandard laboratories. These are not the first times that we’ve had a world exposed to viruses as a result of failures in a Chinese lab.

3:02 PM · May 3, 2020

[ This is exactly the way in which Jews were attacked in Europe culminating in the 1930s. When the Chinese were expelled from the US in the Chinese exclusion Act of 1882, they were portrayed as spreading disease. Such are the horrid tools of racists. I find this terrifying. ]

Anonymous said...

Secretary Pompeo@SecPompeo

China has a history of infecting the world...

[ This is the precise language of the 1930s, leading to the unspeakable. ]

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