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Year of the Plague 29 – NY Times Columnist Paul Krugman on a Biden Victory Next week… Interesting Insights…

October 29, 2020

Homelessness – Denver, Colorado

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… Other countries probably won’t rush to confront a Biden administration. There might even be a sort of global honeymoon, as the world breathes a sigh of relief.

But the loss of trust in America will gradually have a corrosive effect. A trade expert once said to me that the great danger, if America turns protectionist, wouldn’t be retaliation, it would be emulation: If we ignore the rules, other countries will follow our example. The same will be true on other fronts. There will be more economic and military bullying of small countries by their larger neighbors. There will be more blatant election-rigging in nominally democratic nations.

In other words, even if Trump goes, the world will become a more dangerous, less fair place than it was, because everyone will wonder and worry whether the United States has become the kind of country where such things can happen again.

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Krugman the contrarian..

Paul Krugman, New York Times columnist on economic affairs and Nobel Prize laureate,  today is a knowledgeable and to my view thoughtful, if mainstream critic of neo-liberalism – for those unfamiliar with the term – the kind of economic chaos pursued by Reagan, Bush father and son and now with a vengeance, by Trump.

Earlier in his career, this was not the case although it’s not worth the time or effort to explore his “transition” or “epithany”. Whatever.

I read him regularly now and think the everyone, regardless of their politics would be wise to do so. His explanations of economic processes, the current situation are clear, objective, fact-based and a helpful guild to understanding what is going on in the U.S. (and world economy). Of course reading Richard Wolff, David Harvey too every morning – or every other morning helps round out the picture, both of whom I recommend highly, Wolff especially.

That said, here in America foreign policy usual takes a back seat to domestic issues in national politics… and at present, even domestic issues, economics unfortunately takes a back seat to personality descriptions, attacks. This particular presidential election is one so vapid of issues as have been reduced to little more than a soap opera.

In the piece below Krugman argues that should Biden win the presidency next week that the main consequence of these four years of the Trump presidency will not be on the domestic front. He speculates that much of the dismantling of regulatory bodies, the taxation system which overly favors the .001% etc, will be partially reinstituted, that the Coronavirus pandemic will be handled less recklessly and with greater national coordination, etc. – although rightwing violence will probably be around for a while.

But where he argues that the United States will suffer the most is in foreign policy, global trade relations, have been nothing short of shattered and will not be more easily repaired, if ever.

I agree with him and the points he makes on this subject in his most recent NY Times op ed:

Now, if Trump is defeated, a Biden administration will probably do its best to restore America’s traditional role in the world. We’ll start following trade rules; we’ll rejoin the Paris climate accord and rescind plans to withdraw from the World Health Organization. We’ll assure our allies that we have their backs, and rebuild alliances with other democracies.

But even with the best will in the world, this egg can’t be unscrambled. No matter how good a global citizen America becomes in the next few years, everyone will remember that we’re a country that elected someone like Donald Trump, and could do it again. It will take decades if not generations to regain the lost trust.

For the full article: Trump Killed the Pax Americana

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Here it is pasted just below:

Trump Killed the Pax Americana.

Paul Krugman – October 29, 2020

There are, I suppose, some people who still imagine that if and when Donald Trump leaves office we’ll see a rebirth of civility and cooperation in U.S. politics. They are, of course, hopelessly naïve. America in the 2020s will remain a deeply polarized nation, rife with crazy conspiracy theories and, quite possibly, plagued by right-wing terrorism.

But that won’t be Trump’s legacy. The truth is that we were already well down that road before he came along. And on the other side, if the Democrats win big, I expect to see many of Trump’s substantive policies reversed, and then some. Environmental protection and the social safety net will probably end up substantially stronger, taxes on the rich substantially higher, than they were under Barack Obama.

Trump’s lasting legacy, I suspect, will come in international affairs. For almost 70 years America played a special role in the world, one that no nation had ever played before. We’ve now lost that role, and I don’t see how we can ever get it back.

You see, American dominance represented a new form of superpower hegemony.

Our government’s behavior was by no means saintly; we did some terrible things, supporting dictators and undermining democracies from Iran to Chile. And sometimes it seemed as if one of our main goals was to make the world safe for multinational corporations.

But we weren’t a crude exploiter, pillaging other countries for our own gain. The Pax Americana arguably dated from the enactment of the Marshall Plan in 1948; that is, from the moment when a conquering nation chose to help its defeated foes rebuild rather than demanding that they pay tribute.

And we were a country that kept its word.

To take the area I know best, the United States took the lead in creating a rules-based system for international trade. The rules were designed to fit American ideas about how the world should work, placing limits on the ability of governments to intervene in markets. But once the rules were in place, we followed them ourselves. When the World Trade Organization ruled against the United States, as it did for example in the case of George W. Bush’s steel tariffs, the U.S. government accepted that judgment.

We also stood by our allies. We might have trade or other disputes with Germany or South Korea, but nobody considered the possibility that America would stand aside if either country was invaded.

Trump changed all that.

What, for example, is the point of a rules-based trading system when the system’s creator and erstwhile guardian imposes tariffs based on transparently bad-faith arguments — such as the claim that imports of aluminum from Canada (!) threaten national security?

How useful is America as an ally when the president suggests that he might not defend European nations because, in his judgment, they don’t spend enough on NATO?

Is America still the leader of the free world when top officials seem friendlier to nations like Hungary, where democracy has effectively collapsed — or even to murderous autocracies like Saudi Arabia — than to longstanding democratic allies?

Now, if Trump is defeated, a Biden administration will probably do its best to restore America’s traditional role in the world. We’ll start following trade rules; we’ll rejoin the Paris climate accord and rescind plans to withdraw from the World Health Organization. We’ll assure our allies that we have their backs, and rebuild alliances with other democracies.

But even with the best will in the world, this egg can’t be unscrambled. No matter how good a global citizen America becomes in the next few years, everyone will remember that we’re a country that elected someone like Donald Trump, and could do it again. It will take decades if not generations to regain the lost trust.

The effects may, at first, be subtle. Other countries probably won’t rush to confront a Biden administration. There might even be a sort of global honeymoon, as the world breathes a sigh of relief.

But the loss of trust in America will gradually have a corrosive effect. A trade expert once said to me that the great danger, if America turns protectionist, wouldn’t be retaliation, it would be emulation: If we ignore the rules, other countries will follow our example. The same will be true on other fronts. There will be more economic and military bullying of small countries by their larger neighbors. There will be more blatant election-rigging in nominally democratic nations.

In other words, even if Trump goes, the world will become a more dangerous, less fair place than it was, because everyone will wonder and worry whether the United States has become the kind of country where such things can happen again.

 

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 29, 2020 1:44 pm

    Rob. Thanks for your sharing the Krugman piece. Suspect he’s very right. Yet I happen to be reading the Pope’s latest “letter” called Fratelli Tutti. I recommend it since, while it affirms what Krugman and others say — about violence and distrust in a failed/failing economic order, it calls for a new cultural order to undergird and transform the economic order. I suspect you and others on the Left, good friends, will find it romantic and illusory. But perhaps not. The basic issue is trust in all forms, its fraying everywhere (and his first chapter is an excellent and dark evocation of that fraying), and yet the still basic human sense of trust which can and needs to be rebuilt. If you take the time to read it (just google the title), I’d be interested in your response(s). John

    • October 29, 2020 1:45 pm

      Will read and get back to you

    • October 30, 2020 3:42 pm

      John: Read several summaries of “Fratelli Tutti” – not the whole document – the most cogent being by one Isabella Piro. It is in all its aspects a fine statement, a kind of guide to live by, and of course the fact that the Pope has written it will give it considerable global play. All to the better. That said, it seems to go against the grain of what I am hearing local priests here in Colorado are saying in church (as related to me by Catholic friends). They seem to be singing a far different and less humanistic, peaceful tune. Rob

  2. William Conklin permalink
    October 29, 2020 3:11 pm

    I can’t disagree with anything you say Rob, however, I do have to add that the lesser of two evils is still evil. It is obvious that the Democrats are less evil than the most evil bunch Americans, the Republicans. I would think that the fact that we dropped a Nuke on Japan when Stalin was completely capable of solving the problem; especially since the Russians gave up millions of lives so the American Fascists could claim they beat the German Fascists. The fact that we destroyed the complete infrastructure of North Korea, the fact that we dropped burning gasoline on hundreds of thousands of innocent peasants in Vietnam, the fact that we were responsible for the devastation of Palestine, that fact that we murdered presidents in Central America so we could eat their bananas and steal their oil, the fact that we murdered Salvador Allende and put the Chicago Boys in charge, the fact that we lied about Saddam’s weapons, which was obvious to me when the Republican criminals invaded. The fact that Obama sent out manned drones and killed anybody and anything he wanted to kill. This all happened before the Byzantine Clown grabbed the throne. In other words, the sheepish electorate hiding in their filthy diapers, terrified by a germ they don’t understand deserve no quarter for their belief that they live in the Greatest Country in the World.

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