Trump is susceptible to such giveaways, not only because he is ignorant, but because he does not see himself as the president of US
I’m contemplating writing a book on the first year of President Trump’s foreign policy, and I already know the name: “The Art of the Giveaway.”
Today, Trump just gave it away — for free. Such a deal! Why in the world would you just give this away for free and not even use it as a lever to advance the prospect of an Israeli-Palestinian deal?
Such a trade-off is needed. It would produce a real advance for United States interests and for the peace process. As Dennis Ross, the veteran American Middle East peace negotiator and author of “Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.-Israeli Relationship From Truman to Obama,” explained: “When you stop building outside the settlement blocs, you preserve, at a maximum, the possibility of a two-state outcome and, at a minimum, the ability for Israelis to separate from Palestinians. Keep up the building in densely populated Palestinian areas and separation becomes impossible.”
In either case, Trump could then have boasted to Israelis and Palestinians that he got them each something that Barack Obama never did — something that advanced the peace process and United States credibility and did not embarrass our Arab allies. But Trump is a chump. And he is a chump because he is ignorant and thinks the world started the day he was elected, and so he is easily gamed.
Just ask the Chinese. Basically, his first day in office, Trump tore up the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade deal — clearly without having read it or asked China for any trade concession in return. Trump simply threw out the window the single most valuable tool America had for shaping the geoeconomic future of the region our way and for pressuring China to open its markets to more United States goods.
Trump is now trying to negotiate trade openings with China alone — bilaterally — and getting basically nowhere. And yet he could have been negotiating with China as the head of a 12-nation TPP trading bloc that was based on United States values and interests and that controlled 40 percent of the global economy. Think of the leverage we lost.
In a column from Hong Kong last June a senior Hong Kong official told me: “When Trump did away with TPP, all your allies’ confidence in the U.S. collapsed.” After America stopped TPP, “everyone is now looking to China,” added Jonathan Koon-shum Choi, chairman of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, Hong Kong. “But China is very smart — just keeping its mouth shut.”
As I also noted last June, the other people we disappointed by scrapping TPP, explained James McGregor, author of “One Billion Customers: Lessons From the Front Lines of Doing Business in China,” were China’s economic reformers: They were hoping that the emergence of TPP “would force China to reform its trade practices more along American lines and to open its markets. … We failed the reformers in China.”
The New York Times
First Published: Thu, December 07 2017. 17:59 IST