Even as the #NeverTrump media picks at minutia to continue to spin stories to fill their pipeline of negative news narratives, the President has come out of the G20 summit in Argentina with some commendable outcomes. Tremendous wins.
The Trump/Xi tête-à-tête was not only the most important face-to-face discussion in Argentina, it may be the most important negotiation between the world’s two most important economies and the most powerful military forces – Russia notwithstanding – since President Nixon broke through the Bamboo Curtain in 1972.
China is a tough nut to crack. Establishment apologists have suggested that Trump should have gratuitously delayed the next round of tariffs, due to be imposed in January, as a positive “gesture” despite the fact that such unilateral gestures have been ignored for decades. Trump does not believe in one-sided “gestures” which have no specific benefits to the United States. For Trump, a deal means they give up something tangible and we will give up something tangible in response. A deal has to have changes on both sides – and that is exactly what Trump got from Xi.
Trump will now delay imposing future tariffs on China because China has agreed to bring some balance to the current trade imbalance by purchasing tons goods from America AND Xi has agreed to establish a negotiating platform to resolved other significant issues with a relatively short – 90-day –deadline for agreement.
It is also noteworthy that the two nations have agreed to the issues to be resolved. This was not some open-ended agreement to sit around a conference in a diplomatic circle-jerk. Among the issues to be decided in order to avoid those Trump tariffs next March are intellectual property protection, cyber hacking, cyber theft and additional tariff reductions. They will also focus on our best option for export to China – agricultural products.
Score this round for Trump.
There was another great accomplishment in Argentina.
Trump used the G20 occasion to sign the initial documents replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with NAFTA II – a deal with greater benefits for the United States. The photo op of Trump seated between President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada was a symbolic refutation of months of specious reporting that Trump had alienated Nieto and Trudeau to the point where no agreement could be reached. Au contraire. It was all smiles and handshakes as the three put their signatures to the new agreement.
Once again, Trump proved himself to be the consummate – if not the prettiest – negotiator/deal-maker. He is a kickboxer in the political ring where the entrenched establishment has clung to the politer Marquis of Queensbury Rules – imposed only on our side. In terms of international diplomacy, both allies and adversaries have been taking advantage of the United States’ generosity and weakness, respectively.
So far Trump has been winning these tariff confrontations for two reasons. First, he is tenacious. Trump does not give much in negotiations without getting what he wants. In the annals of presidential history, it is hard to find a president who is a tougher negotiator than Trump since Reagan – and more accomplished.
These so-called trade wars – which they are not – have provided another positive result for Trump – one that seems to have been unnoticed in the public sphere. As long as I can recall, labor and the political left have united in fighting FOR tariffs because they believe they protect American jobs – which they do not. Since these folks are in knee-jerk mode to oppose anything Trump says or does, the left is talking up free-trade and OPPOSITION to his tariffs. They are now talking like they just got out of an Americans for Prosperity seminar. Since the Trump tariffs will fall like autumn leaves as those other nations adopt fairer and freer trade policies with the United States, the left may be in the sad position of having to argue against itself. They have been hoisted on their own petard.
Finally, what did not happen in Argentina is relevant.
After Russian military ships attacked Ukrainian vessels and took hostages, Trump terminated his formal negotiating meeting with Vladimir Putin. Ironically, members of the same press and their pandering panelists — who called Trump out for meeting with Putin in Helsinki (and Kim Jong-un in Singapore) — criticized the President for NOT meeting with Putin to confront him on the Russian Ukrainian aggression. One does not have to ponder the question for too long to surmise what the press would have said if Trump DID meet with Putin.
Those who keep peddling the theory-as-news that Trump is being blackmailed by Putin should remember that Trump sent military armaments to the Ukrainians – something President Obama refused to do. He did not sell the Ruskies our uranium – something Obama did. Despite his nice comments about Putin, no president since Reagan has been tougher on Moscow. In terms of his relationship with Putin, Trump is in the tradition of boxer Mohammad Ali who once said, “float like a butterfly, but sting like a bee.”
Unfortunately, the death of President Bush “41” has given the press an excuse to avoid coverage of the positive outcomes of the G20 meeting in South America. They could have. After all, they are filling their schedule with repetitious remembrances virtually 24 hours a day. Certainly, the blockbuster breaking news out of Argentina could have been provided a bit more time and attention. But that does not happen in the #NeverTrump news industry.
Regardless, the G20 meeting has been a “yuge” success for Trump and America – the latest of many.
So, there ‘tis.