Trump redoubles its commitment to a foreign policy of confrontation

       

With an aircraft carrier in the Middle East, more tariffs to China and maneuvers in Venezuela and Cuba, the president moves chips around the world with an eye on the domestic agenda.

From the Middle East to Venezuela, from Cuba to China, Donald Trump enters the second half of his mandate in international politics. With aircraft carriers, trade tariffs or diplomatic intrigue, depending on the case, the president who rejected the role of the United States as guardian of the world moves his chips on the global board with the impulsiveness and daring brand of the house. But with a common denominator, which connects with domestic politics and the mobilization of its bases for the elections next year.

Iran, Israel, China, Venezuela

An aircraft carrier and bombers sent to the Middle East to face an inaccurate threat from Tehran, in full escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and after redoubling the pressure on Iranian oil and staging a nothing subtle electoral support Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu. An upsurge in the trade war with China, with threats of new tariffs via Twitter, seasoned with a bitter conflict unleashed by the presence of US warships near the disputed islands in the South China Sea. An increasingly active role to overthrow the regime of Nicolás Maduro in the Venezuelan crisis. A turn of the screw in the policy of asphyxiating Cuba, in a clear challenge to the European Union.

Released from the yoke of research on his ties with Russia, which has overshadowed his first two years in the White House, President Trump enters the second half of his term with an unusual emphasis on foreign policy. In the last two weeks, all the international fronts that the United States has open have experienced spectacular escalations.

The polyphile offensive responds, at first sight, to the habitual pattern in President Trump: impulsive, erratic, brawny, disrespectful with consensus, ambivalent with traditional enemies and defiant with certain historical allies. But there is a logic that runs through all these international fronts, and is found in domestic politics and the mobilization of the republican bases ahead of the presidential elections next year.

The president who rejected the role of the United States as guardian of the world is thrown with all his chips to the global board. The shipment of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln to the Persian Gulf was announced on Sunday by John Bolton, National Security Adviser. It is “a clear and unequivocal message to the Iranian regime that any attack on US interests or its allies will be met with relentless force,” Bolton said in a statement, without providing more details of the specific events that led to the deployment in a zone of conflict in which Israel points out the role of Tehran.

Aircraft carrier’s send to Iran

On Monday, according to The New York Times, senior US officials said that the aircraft carrier’s shipment is due to new threats from Iran against US troops in Iraq, confirmed by the intelligence services. The new developments will reinforce the suspicions of the Iraqi authorities that Washington uses its military presence (more than five thousand soldiers) in the country to advance its agenda against Tehran, whose Revolutionary Guard the president declared last month officially as “terrorist organization.” foreign, “risking Iran’s doing the same with US troops in the Middle East.

The Trump Administration has adopted a hard line with Iran, since last year the president withdrew from the nuclear agreement signed 2015 and relaxed the sanctions. Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have led that strategy, often in direct opposition to the recommendations of the CIA and the Department of Defense. The offensive against Iran is key in the plan for peace in the Middle East that coordinates in the shadow the son-in-law and adviser to the president, Jared Kushner, in close cooperation with Netanyahu. The synergy with the Israeli conservative prime minister has been applauded by the sectors to the right of the Republican Party.

USA vs China

The conflict with China, dramatically bitter in the commercial, has also escalated to a dangerous military terrain: Beijing yesterday denounced the presence of United States warships near the disputed islands in the South China Sea. The incident came the day after Trump announced on Twitter new tariffs on Chinese products. On Wednesday, a Chinese delegation is expected to visit Washington to try to reach an agreement to end a long and costly trade war.

But it is in Latin America where the background of domestic politics that surrounds Trump’s international performance becomes more evident. His recent decision to enforce Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, which has been suspended by all presidents since the enactment of the rule in 1996, led last week to the first lawsuits against foreign companies for profiting from confiscated property. after the Cuban Revolution to its legitimate owners by the Castro regime.

The measure opens a new front against Brussels, which has announced reprisals for actions against European companies with interests on the island. In addition, it contravenes the dominant reading so far that the tightening of the embargo – hence the opening starring Obama in 2014 – only gives arguments to the regime to close ranks and pushes more towards its support from Russia and China.

But the action contented and mobilized the Cuban exile, bastion of votes of the Republican Party, as well as the interference in Venezuela against the regime of Nicolás Maduro. This does not seem to respond to the premise of America first that Trump became a flag. But keeping alive the fight against communism provides electoral revenue, mobilizing its base against a Democratic Party that is waging a battle to decide who will face Trump in 2020, with candidates who have led the ideological debate in the party more to the left never.

COMMERCIAL WAR, MILITARY BACKGROUND

SANDRO POZZI (NEW YORK)

Principle of agreement or escalation. It is the question that Wall Street asks after the threat of Donald Trump to raise tariffs to China, just when it seemed that the commercial negotiation was going to lead to an agreement. Beijing now demands that Washington reconsider some of its difficult requests and requests concessions. But the Republican plays differently and chooses to take the negotiation to the limit. Trump’s reaction is more than pure posturing. The Pentagon has just published a report that goes to the root of the commander-in-chief’s rhetoric, in which he details how China wants to supplant the US as a military power in the Pacific. The document notes that it is advancing rapidly and achieving “tremendous progress” in the field of ballistic missiles, space and artificial intelligence.

“They try to erode the US military advantage,” the Pentagon says in its annual report, “supporting this ambition with enormous resources.” The report of the military experts thus delves into the central pillar of Trump’s action in the field of commerce: increasing competition from China on a global scale and how to regulate exchanges to prevent the theft of technology.

Chinese commercial tactics are, in fact, seen in Washington as a risk to national security. The Pentagon report even refers to Beijing’s “predatory economy” as it develops how it plans to establish military bases around the world to protect its investments in infrastructure projects, through the program known as One Belt One Road.

The question is how China will react to Trump’s ultimatum. The interpretation of the president’s environment, like Peter Navarro, is that there is room to tighten the negotiation, because the non-agreement would hurt the Chinese economy more. The reaction of the markets is an example. Shanghai was down 5.6% and the Shenzhen Index was 7.4%, while the fall in the Dow Jones did not reach the percentage point.

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