The legacy of the Trump administration will be one of finally confronting vexing international problems that all recent presidents failed for one reason or another to address with any credibility.
Tyrannical economies and dictatorships that thrived under the Obama administration now find themselves struggling economically to underpin their corrupt and repressive ways. This development can be seen from China to Tehran. The situation is encouraging for American national security as Trump is the first president to fully use the full weight of American power.
The most impactful example of this phenomenon is of course China, that evil regime that currently has over one million of its own citizens in concentration camps, channeling their inner Hitler. The Trump tariffs have finally put an end to the easy money for Beijing; using the American market as a dumping ground for cheap, poorly made Chinese goods, all the while stealing American technology and intellectual property, is no more. When you combine this sea change with the massive misallocation of capital in China (managed economies never work long-term), where empty city after empty city has to continue being built to keep the population working or face civil unrest, the Chinese economy is in real trouble, no matter what the bought-and-paid-for-Wall Street pundits have to say.
Beijing knows this full well, and is why they are desperate to prevent the second round of Trump tariffs from being enacted. Whether or not Trump can wring out a good trade deal with the Chinese for America’s future generations is still to be seen … but at least they are at the table, and look to be facing reality for once.
Iran is now an economic basket case. What a change from Ben Rhodes’ eco-chamber to Trump nerves of steel. With the Obama cornucopia called the JCPOA long dead, Tehran is reduced to begging in European capitals for those liberal governments with enough power left to defy POTUS and find a way to ink economic deals with the Mullahs. It is not working well. With their oil production significantly reduced, the golden goose of hydrocarbons is dead. The regime of the Mullahs is on life support and its destruction is only a matter of time, which will be a wonderful consequence for the Iranian people, who will finally be able to throw off their murderous yoke.
Venezuela is an obvious case. Trump, Bolton and Pompeo have decided Maduro and his corrupt band of Chavistas have to go … yesterday. The government can’t even keep the lights on in the capital. Gotta love that socialism. All the Trump administration had to do is show the world the emperor in Caracas has no clothes. Maduro’s time in power is extremely limited, and rumors of his expulsion are not greatly exaggerated. Russia will try, but will fail to keep the regime in power.
Speaking of Russia, if you haven’t noticed, things are not going smoothly in Moscow. After spending billions in Syria and Ukraine, Putin simultaneously pushed through a much needed reform of the Russian pension system (which was not sustainable) and his poll numbers have plummeted.
Spending on social services has recently increased but may be too little too late after years of reductions in things like medical care and schools. One fifth of the Russian population say they want to leave for better locals; about half of younger Russians want to do so, leaving a dire situation for those too old to resettle as Russia’s demographic decline continues.
Western sanctions have had the effect of pushing Moscow into Beijing’s arms; this is like putting the fox in the hen house. Most Russians in Siberia have no false hope of eventually reclaiming agricultural and forest lands that have been ‘leased’ to China. China is buying Russian gas, but at what cost? Many analysts believe the price is cut rate, if even profitable. Even Russian military spending is now being finally reduced after years of growth. Moscow cannot afford another arms race, which is exactly what they are going to get under Trump America First policies.
The current Russian system of government, which is essentially rule by the oligarchic elite, simply cannot survive long term. Something will have to give. What that ‘something’ is remains to be seen.
In any event, what a shift in the geopolitical situation in the two very short years of the Trump administration. Our adversaries feel the changes, even if the American political Left does not or doesn’t want to.
The positive realities of life under the Donald need to be shouted from the roof tops, especially prior to 2020.