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Is Donald Trump Really This Sharp?
I have already mentioned and recommended Peter Zeihan to Ricochet members in previous posts. Zeihan is a best-selling author, analyst, and lecturer on topics related to or affecting geo-political events. Such topics may include economics, trade, demographics, industrial production, natural resources, agriculture, and politics, of course, and many other areas.
Zeihan thinks globalization is dead. Here’s a description of his latest book from his website:
In The End of the World is Just the Beginning, author and geopolitical strategist Peter Zeihan maps out the next world: a world where countries or regions will have no choice but to make their own goods, grow their own food, secure their own energy, fight their own battles, and do it all with populations that are both shrinking and aging.
Many, including me, have expressed concerns about the globalization movement that has been very active and visible over the last thirty years following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. In recent years Klaus Schwab and the World Economic Forum (WEF), touting The Great Reset extolling the virtues of one world government and demeaning sovereignty of nations, has been gaining adherents and pushing that agenda. I had been raging against this globalist movement until I started studying the material presented by Zeihan. Now there is a very contrary view that has my attention, and Zeihan doesn’t think we will have to wait long to see the direction he predicts to start unfolding.
What really astounds me is how well Donald Trump’s presidential policies and moves and his expressed beliefs and positions match what Zeihan sees as the developing picture of the world. Notice from the quote about Zeihan’s book above that he does not say nations will choose this new direction, he says they will have no choice in the matter. And Zeihan does not appear to be politically partisan.
Under Donald Trump as President, we had a split in the Republican Party and a major shift to the Left by the Democrat Party. These changes were brought about by differences of view in at least three major areas, trade, national security, and unions. The first two of them, trade and national security, are very closely related to Trump policies and resulted in many establishment Republicans not supporting Trump. The unions are left hanging since they are a traditional lock for the Democrats, but the Trump Republican Party is now the Party of the workers.
Did Trump see these things coming or did he just act on principle and it matches as the world turns? Of course, such questions assume some legitimacy in the positions espoused by Peter Zeihan.Published in General
No business person among us arrives at billionaire status without some understanding of the overall global situation.
Prior to becoming president, Trump had the common sense to surround himself with not only the best legal minds available, but also the best minds in various fields. (Remember how airline pilot hero Sully quickly came to Trump’s defense when Trump wisely grounded the Boeing MAX?)
Various signals had surfaced even as he was spending time running for the Oval Office that globalization has a huge and ugly downside for America’s economy.
Ford Motor Company undertook a massive TV and internet campaign to bring 20 somethings into their dealership showrooms.
It worked. During and after the ad campaign, visits to dealerships by that age group blossomed beyond belief.
But while we Baby Boomers who visited Ford dealerships in the 1960’s could walk out of the dealership with the keys to a new car, few of the 20 somethings can do that these days.
By 2016, the good paying steel mill jobs were gone. Oil and natural gas discovery and drilling was not operating at full capacity as the environmental restrictions were oppressive to such operations. The mining that occurred in the Duluth iron range of MN had been banned by environmental restrictions. Customer service jobs have been moved to the Pacific Rim islands. (This not only prevents young Americans from having entry level jobs, but means we who need help with important products such as health insurance can’t really be helped by low IQ Manuel of the Philippines who hardly speaks English.)
Trump changed many of the above situations. Minnesota went purple for the first time in decades, as people were so happy to have the mining industry come back to life. Across places like Texas and Oklahoma, oil boom towns sprang up overnight. Even convenience store cashiers started making 18 to 20 bucks an hour, as the demand in those places allowed store owners to pay a lot more than prior to Trump coming into office.
The country as a whole became self supporting and independent of foreign oil and gas imports.
These were not accidental occurrences – it was because this man was a very decent businessman who understood the many needs of getting our economy to become a successful one.
He had his faults – but in addition to the above, in his first 18 months he accomplished some 275 major and minor improvements in our political and economic situations. It is no wonder that Tulsi Gabbard went to visit him early on, as her state’s citizens were truly concerned about No Korea’s ability to launch missiles that could incinerate Hawai’i. Unlike Obama, Trump felt that situation was not one that American presidents could afford to ignore.
I remarked to my daughter this morning that, considering the way every detail of his life has been investigated, Trump has to be the cleanest real estate operator of all time.
I think a Trump-DeSantis ticket would be unstoppable, and would give us 12 years to try to save the country.
I heard the guy inverviewed on Glenn Beck. I think he is overly optimistic on the death of globalization. It is just too profitable to export pollution and import cheaply manufactured goods. I really liked his point about how the big navy countries (US, Britian,…) securing the trade routes really enabled globalization.
I’ve read Zeihan’s books, and listened to a number of his lectures. He’s an interesting guy with ideas that sound very plausible. I’m not entirely convinced that he’s right, but I think that he’s worth listening to.
My impression is that foreign policy Trumpism, for lack of a better term, is one of the underlying assumptions of Zeihan’s model. His basic argument is that we’ve been in this strange period of “globalization,” meaning globalization of trade, not of politics. This has allowed many countries to prosper which have not had such a chance before, and would not have such a chance if they had to secure their own access to trade.
In essence, Zeihan argues that the US military has secured freedom of trade, especially freedom of the seas. The primary beneficiaries are nations other than the US, including some of our worst adversaries, such as China. Zeihan’s explanation for this is that we used such freedom of trade as a “bribe” to secure allies in the Cold War.
Now the Cold War is over, and Zeihan’s impression is that American voters are no longer interested in being the “world’s policeman.” He may well have pointed this out before Trump. Trump’s foreign policy was heading toward an implementation of this policy, though slowly. For example, Neocons like Bolton, Mattis, and McMaster were important advisors to Trump.
My impression is that Trump took advantage of this attitude among the American electorate. There’s a big constituency for a platform of:
For about 25 years before Trump, neither party appealed to this constituency.
I’m only tentative at this point although having gone through his videos on the demographics it is hard to see how Russia, China, and Japan keep up the pace.
Haven’t many of the big money Wall St people, like Black Rock, committed in full to the globalization movement, I mean lots of power people and money? Do we know what that means if this turns into a major issue where people are willing to commit everything?
EDIT: @arizonapatriot Jerry, it was such a delight to see your comment not open with “Bob, I disagree”.
I agree with you.
One minor quibble. The only “big navy” country that secured the trade routes was the US.
Back when Britain had a big navy, it used it to advance Britain’s interests.
Globalism is not just a movement, although it does move. It’s just a natural thing that happens when barriers to communication and transport are taken down, and when there is more and more centralization of producers and providers that enables them to scale up and conduct business across international boundaries. And also when there is more centralization of governments, and removal of regulatory barriers between nation-states. These factors also feed on each other. Some people are benefited from this, and some are harmed. Actually there are benefits and harms for everyone, but the net outcome is different for different people.
Reducing the harms is not just a matter of fighting against an ideology of globalism. It’s also a matter of fighting against some of our own instincts and natural tendencies.
Yup. We have all of these international/globalist institutions, policies, organizations, treaties, and supply chains. With the collapse of the Soviet Union it was foretold by the top economists and foreign policy experts, think tanks, and global businesses that the world was on the verge of tremendous wealth creation and new markets being opened up. What actually happened? New markets opened up for established players and the average American worker suffered a lot of dislocation and was told to code and get into the new industries. Now the coders are being laid off. The American citizen now sees the rise of China and other developing countries on his back. And it’s his tax dollars that is to pay for the safety of their trade and the “international order.” The politicians and business big wigs have a new giant set of global interests they’re more loyal to than the average American they were meant to represent. The money and power sits at Davos and that’s where they flock to. They ignore the common citizen and his suffering while turning the US into an open air flea market. It should all be burnt to the ground.
I had never thought about it before, but I wonder if that is a distinction without a difference.
Almost everything you cite here really boils down to trade. When they started seriously talking about giving up nation sovereignty is when opposition to one world government ideas began to strengthen. America happens to be the best positioned nation to carry on without going the one world government route. Don’t you recognize a difference between politics and trade?
The one world government people are probably all ok with no border control which means we then go well beyond trade issues with illicit drugs, human trafficking, arms, and illegal immigration.
My parents and grandparents were warning against the one-worlders back when I was 7-8 years old. It took me a while to understand where that all came from, but I think a lot of it was in the air when the United Nations was being formed.
There is a difference between the two, but not much of a separation.
Oh, definitely there is more to it than trade. But you’re not going to be able to easily separate them from trade, because those who want to scale up and increase international trade are going to demand a lot more to accommodate the trade.
The EU is just one example. It was a pretty good deal for Europe when it was about lowering trade barriers, but in order to really lower trade barriers, it brought about the push for a single currency. And that level of centralization brought about the loss of sovreignty over national borders and over internal politics.
And they got Brexit.
To paraphrase Klaus Schwab, he who controls the newest technologies will be “the master of the world”. The essence of the fight here is globalism presenting a single world government, but a government that is not a political government, but rather a government of global corporate control, versus individual nation states (either dictators or populations) which want to maintain mastery of their chunk of the world. I would say that centralization is always inefficient and bad, and localization of power is generally good, but can be just as bad. This is one of the few crucial fundamentals of Trump’s foreign policy. And it appears that he espoused this when Zeihan was still in school.
Zeihan does seem to mirror this basic nationalist position, but I’m not sure if he takes into account the money, power, drive, and the great prize at stake of the globalists. He seems to think that the nations will win out, and the globalists will be stymied; especially considering that from the few videos I’ve seen, he seems to be saying that Russia is the fly in the globalist ointment.
I have thought this was true as well (and to include China), and this is I think what’s at root of the war on Russia. The headlines are about Churchill in a green T-shirt, and money laundering, and transfer of weapons and violated borders, and battle plans, and good guys versus bad guys, but the real battle seems to be echoed in Biden’s frequently stated goal for the war, that Putin must be removed from power. No matter how it started, it is a war against Russian nationalism.
Whether good or evil, Russia is nationalistic under Putin, and even though Russia is more contained geo-politically, Russia looks like the leading force for nationalism in the world. Even the nationalist China is well along with its endeavor to create a global financial empire which will rule the world, just as the US has been for more than half a century.
One big point is that this conflict is not between nations or governments but between nations and monied global corporations which create and transport food and goods for the populations of the nations. And this is seen in part in the globalist West’s use of financial sanctions against Russia. And in turn it is not corporations, principally of India and China, which turn out to be fighting this war against globalism, but the governments of China and India.
There are few good guys in this conflict but the end will either be overall good with nation states maintaining autonomy, or overall bad with the global corporations taking full control.
Trump was ahead of the rest of us on this issue. While I’m still pro free trade, he has caused me to rethink it and qualify my ideas.
I really like Peter Zeihan; I have read his two most recent books and hope to read the other two asap. My degree of appreciation for Trump on issues of trade has increased in my listening to Zeihan podcasts. I am not on the Trump Train, but Zeihan points out some of Trump’s better ideas.
One story which I found interesting. On the renegotiation of NAFTA, apparently Trump talked to the incoming President of Mexico who said that if Trump worked out a deal with the outgoing President of Mexico, he wouldn’t attack it, and would let it go through. With that agreement, Trump cut a deal. Then the US and Mexico took it to Canada as a “take it or leave it.” Whoa!
Zeihan did a 36 minute series on his views of Presidents Clinton, W, Obama, Trump and Biden, as well as Xi and Putin and I found his views to be quite insightful. (The first half is foreign leaders currently, the second half are America’s last five Presidents.) I recommend it.
I think globalization is a mixed bag.
On the one hand, I like being able to purchase a South Korean car or avocados grown in Central America. I also like being able to sell electronics to people and businesses in other countries.
However, I don’t like trading with China, Russia, Iran, Cuba or Venezuela.
As for immigration, I support allowing more people of working age with high skills immigrate to America and become citizens and start businesses. Many of my health care providers are from India. I’d like to see America allow more people from India, China, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam immigrate to the United States.
But I oppose illegal immigration. We need control over our borders.
So, when someone says, “Stop globalization,” I am prepared to withhold judgement until I learn the details of what they are proposing.
Putin is nationalist in one sense, but he is globalist in the sense that he thinks Russia needs to throw his weight around the world. He is the inheritor of anti-nationalist policies that seek to deny Ukraine its nationalism. I think a lot of the anti-nationalistic rhetoric we’ve heard over the past century was aided and abetted by those who saw nationalism as a threat to their internationalist socialist aspirations. Putin has dropped part of that but has kept the genocidal anti-nationalism directed against Ukraine and the Baltics. They were sometimes schizoid about nationalism, but the Soviets tried to do away with strong national borders within the USSR by moving populations around and mixing them up. Putin is the inheritor and continuation of those policies.
International trade has existed for many centuries. It has been expanded radically as a result of greatly improved transportation and telecommunications…and also, as a result of political choices to eliminate or reduce tariff barriers. (I’m not sure how many people realize that tariffs in the US were a major source of federal government funding for most of the country’s existence.)
However, it is often assumed that greater physical interconnection of national or subnational entities drives a need for their social and political interconnection. Edward Porter Alexander, a former Confederate general who became a railway president, made this argument explicitly:
Well that (state’s rights) was the issue of the war; & as we were defeated that right was surrendered & a limit put on state sovereignty. And the South is now entirely satisfied with that result. And the reason of it is very simple. State sovereignty was doubtless a wise political instution for the condition of this vast country in the last century. But the railroad, and the steamboat & the telegraph began to transform things early in this century & have gradually made what may almost be called a new planet of it… Our political institutions have had to change… Briefly we had the right to fight, but our fight was against what might be called a Darwinian development – or an adaptation to changed & changing conditions – so we need not greatly regret defeat.
It is an interesting question as to how far this argument can reasonably be applied. See my post What Are the Limits of the Alexander Analysis?
I’d put it differently. Putin is very supportive of nationalism. He just wants to nationalize Ukraine into Russia. As for any hopes of his for Russian globalism, that’s really more of a Russian empire not stateless globalism (and Russia is far outpaced by China in this).
I think this argument is really weak on its face. He makes an argument with no rationale to support it except a war was lost and and he got personally involved in some big things that emerged in transport and information transfer similar to the mindset that capture Wall St today. I think Chesterton has a lot more to offer with distributism and subsidiarity.
Pirates on the high seas affecting trade stopped long before big diesel ships were put into use. I cannot remember the last time there was a sea embargo. Maybe the US navy has prevented such things. Maybe they are just passe. The bigger factor in globalization is the container revolution. Containers where a huge productivity improvement in shipping.
I think the demographic stuff is bunk. We are headed for a period of global stagnation, but it is not existential. China will be just fine with 1.0 billion people as opposed to 1.4 billion. Thinking that a country needs a lots of bodies to defend borders is so 100 years ago.
I don’t think this has anything todo with it. It is economic and related to trade, production and consumption. Demographics would have a big effect on these matters.
China might be fine with a billion people if they were not all old.
There is still about $12 billion/yr worth of piracy on the high seas, according to one insurer. But that’s less than the dollar value of military aid we sent to Ukraine in the past year (I would guess) so not a huge thing.
That’s nationalism at its worst. It’s what has given nationalism a bad name. If Hitler was a nationalist (and some will say he was a racist more than a nationalist) it’s the same kind of nationalism that Putin advocates. It’s evil.
But nationalism doesn’t have to be like that. It can be more like Ukrainian nationalism (though there were times in the past when Ukrainian nationalism showed its bad side, too, like when the Poles and Ukrainians were trying to ethnically cleanse each other. Some of that can possibly be blamed on Soviet Russia, but it was there to be exploited.)
The Soviets tried to do away with nationalities and turn everyone into Soviet Citizens. They also tried to do away with borders and make them irrelevant, e.g. by nonchalantly giving Crimea to Ukraine. They were somewhat successful at this, even in Ukraine, but the Russian empire fell apart before enough generations passed to do away with the nationalities. And Russians were always going to be in the drivers seat, even if they were Soviets. They could never help being somewhat schizoid about this.
This is what Blackrock trying to do pushing it’s ESG ratings of companies.