In a video message recently posted on Facebook, US President-elect Donald Trump vowed to introduce a rule by which at least 2 old regulations are eliminated for every new regulation introduced. While this may seem like a sound policy, further examination of his pre- and post-election vows show that for every good policy, Mr. Trump has at least two bad ones, some of which are very bad, especially for those of us living outside the US.
In that same Facebook address, Trump alluded to one of the central issues of his campaign, his opposition to free trade, when he vowed to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a planned free-trade deal with 12 nations. Leaving aside the merits of this particular deal, Trump’s position on trade forms part of his strategy to force companies to move manufacturing jobs to America, whether or not doing so is economically feasible for them.
Days later Trump announced that he had reached a deal with air conditioner manufacturer Carrier Corporation to keep nearly 1,000 jobs, which the company had planned to move to Mexico, in their current plant in Indianapolis, Indiana, which was set for closure. The nature of “negotiations” between a company, which creates value, and a government, which holds a monopoly on power, is clear.
Should Trump follow through on his promises of forcing more companies to move manufacturing to America, with its high taxes and minimum wage laws, and of restricting immigration and sending millions of immigrants (in mostly low-paying jobs) back to their countries of origin, the economic ripple effect will be unimaginably grave; with manufacturing costs rising drastically, so, inevitably, will prices.
While Trump’s policies on trade may cause damage that would take many years to repair, the potential damage of his foreign policy, in particular with regards to Russia, could be irreversible. The applause with which news of his victory was received in the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian legislature, undoubtedly only increased the legitimate concerns of America’s allies in Eastern Europe, who find themselves facing the threat of Russian military advancement, which is more real now than it has been at any time since the end of the Cold War.
Beyond the obvious risk posed by the improvement of relations between the U.S. and Russia, Trump has also repeatedly expressed what can best be described as a lukewarm position on NATO. The military alliance, the existence of which has served as a deterrent for Russian military aggression since it was formed, may very well be the only thing stopping Putin from attacking its Eastern European members. Ukraine and Georgia, who are not members of NATO, can attest to that.
If the author of The Art of the Deal needs a powerful ally in his planned trade wars with China, he surely realizes that he must offer something of high value in return. What that something might be is anybody’s guess, but it’ll be Putin’s choice, and unlike the popular Trump slogan, it will put Russia first.