Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

Prof. ST Hsieh

Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum

626-376-7460

[email protected]

January 16, 2024

Trump, as expected, dominated the Iowa Caucus last night, paving the way for a most likely rematch with Biden in November. It does make the scenario of a Trump II in 2025 closer to the reality. However, how should the world deal with Trump again?

  1. Fortunately, the world has had a real front seat view of Trump I, from 2016 to 2020. No doubt it was painful for many people around the world, yet Trump did not single handedly turn the world upside down!
  2. Trump is a US phenomenon or reality, so his presidency has created real negative impacts in the US and divided the society, especially the political games. So, the US public, more than any the so-called global leader are concerned about Trump II. There is no happy ending of a Biden-Trump rematch on November 5, 2024. If Biden somehow prevails, a more volatile rerun of January 6th, 2021, led by the again defeated Trump could be expected: civil war in the US?
  3. On the other hand, as expected Trump II becomes a reality, then after 2025 he will be focusing on revenging against his political enemies and would try his best to stay in power, and out of jail by dividing the US public: culture war in the US?
  4. Thus, Trump II will have a very limited bandwidth for creating global crisis, because it does not benefit/protect Trump.
  5. In the context of Iowa caucus and the ensuing primaries, the only person MIA is President Biden! Biden should decide very soon: if his in the election than he should get out of the White House and campaign with Trump heads on, county by county, issue by issue, vote by vote! Otherwise, get out of the way and support a young and inspiring democrat who will beat Trump easily!

A Wary World Braces for Trump’s Return to the White House

Bloomberg News

Mon, January 15, 2024 at 9:12 PM PST·

(Bloomberg) — When Estonia’s much-fêted prime minister, Kaja Kallas, went to Washington in November, she didn’t just meet with White House officials. She also made sure to talk to key allies of Donald Trump.

A month earlier, her foreign minister was in the heart of Trump country, thanking workers at a Lockheed Martin Corp. factory in Arkansas for their contribution to his country’s security — in the form of the HIMARS multiple rocket launchers made there. “It’s important that we take these messages not only to Washington but also to other part of American society, to states that are perhaps a little more conservative,” Margus Tsahkna told reporters.

The outreach is just one example of how countries around the world are delicately — but urgently — preparing for Trump’s possible return to the White House. Back in 2016, Trump’s election stunned US allies and rivals alike. This time, leaders aren’t taking any chances.

Residents of Washington’s Embassy Row have been scouring the city to meet ex-officials and anyone else close to the former president to get a read on his foreign policy plans. Some have even reached out directly to Trump, massaging his ego, or in Estonia’s case, seeking to head off his habitual complaint that Europe isn’t spending enough on defense.

Others are sounding the alarm publicly. “It is clearly a threat,” European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde told French TV last week, citing the lessons of Trump’s first term.

Few in power are so open. But interviews with government officials from Europe to Asia, Africa and Latin America lay bare their concerns — in some cases, their hopes — about the impact of a Trump reprise, for security, trade, and climate action, and the balance of global power.

Fears, Hopes

Many US allies are concerned about Trump’s America First rhetoric and threats to pull out of NATO, not to mention his protectionist trade policies.

With Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine heading into its third year, 2024 could be a tipping point for Europe’s security, said a Baltic official. In the Middle East, Trump’s unquestioning embrace of Israel has some EU diplomats worried the Gaza war might worsen, fueling a new wave of refugees heading for Europe.

But some nations of the Global South see opportunities in the former president’s more transactional approach.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi enjoyed a personal rapport with Trump and his government preferred the previous administration to Biden’s, which has lectured New Delhi on human rights even as it has sought to enlist its support against China, according to officials.

Brazil, which assumed the Group of 20 presidency from India, sees President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s G-20 plans for climate action, poverty reduction and reform of the International Monetary Fund as vulnerable to a resurgent Trump.

Italy’s agenda for its G-7 presidency is similarly affected by the specter of his return. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni also faces a personal and political dilemma, having cheered on Trump while in opposition at an event in Washington in 2019, but in office cultivating a close relationship with Biden.

Perhaps counter-intuitively, the view from Beijing is one of little change in the fundamental trajectory of China-US relations. Wang Yiwei, director of Renmin University’s Institute of International Affairs, noted that tariffs levied during the Trump presidency remain in place, and despite positive signals from last year’s presidential meeting, what he called the US containment of China hasn’t changed, bringing “real harm.”

Trade Worries

In fact, China’s economy would benefit modestly from one of Trump’s signature initiatives, the imposition of 10% across-the-board tariffs on imports and the likely retaliation it would bring, according to estimates by Bloomberg Economics. US growth and employment would slow. Canada and especially Mexico, fellow signatories of the USMCA trade deal, would suffer disproportionately.

Mexican officials are having conversations with all camps including people in Trump’s orbit, and see their successful dealings with Trump before on complex topics like trade and migration as giving them confidence, they can wrangle him again. What’s more, even though June elections mean a new Mexican president is due to take office in October, a singular focus in Washington on migration at the southern US border is likely to be something of a relief after the Biden administration’s additional interest in democracy, human rights and the environment.

The EU, which engaged in tit-for-tat sanctions with the Trump administration over US tariffs on steel and aluminum, wants to “Trump proof” agreements with the US, though it’s not clear how successful those efforts will be. One senior EU diplomat — who put the chance of a Trump return at 50-50 — said there is a greater awareness of the bloc’s dependencies in energy and raw materials, and the need to address them.

Defense, Security

Many of the most critical — and anxious — voices are to be heard in Europe, where governments are bracing for the potential impact of Trump 2.0 on Russian relations, the Ukraine war and the future of NATO.

Several European delegations have been shuttling to Washington to reach out to Trump’s representatives and to the Heritage Foundation that’s working on his policy platform. The aim is partly to sound out who might be part of his administration to get a better handle on what to expect and to convey the message that Europe is paying its way in defense terms.

Personal ties are seen as key — something former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe grasped from the outset, according to Ichiro Fujisaki, Japan’s ambassador to the US from 2008-2012.

Still, Trump demanded more money from Tokyo to pay toward the upkeep of US bases in Japan. It’s a return to that quid-pro-quo approach to US security guarantees that worries many governments the most.

Taking no risks, Sweden, Finland and Denmark signed defense cooperation agreements with Washington in December. Finland is buying 64 F-35A fighter jets from the US, and last month announced investments to double artillery shell production.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, a favorite target of Trump’s in the past, has made no secret of his preference for Biden, and there is anxiety in Berlin over what a new Trump administration could bring. But Germany, too, is finally taking defense spending seriously, stepping up to help Ukraine militarily while deploying troops to the Baltic states. Scholz has said that Germany should be ready to step in if others — read the US — pare back aid for Kyiv.

Opportunities

Some sense a chance: France, which has consistently pushed for a more sovereign Europe in industrial and defense terms, is aware of the paradox that Trump Mark II may provide the best opportunity yet for Europe to overcome national reservations and come together.

The UK sees a possibility of restarting negotiations on a free trade deal with the US that was viewed by Conservatives as the prize of quitting the EU.

Trump enjoyed warm ties with Saudi Arabia, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner has retained and built on his business relations in the United Arab Emirates, including setting up a private company at Abu Dhabi Global Market late last year.

Trump’s temperament is in some ways more in tune with the UAE and other Gulf states, meaning there isn’t much that worries them about the prospect of his return. But the reality is they’re becoming used to volatility in US foreign policy and are moving to solve problems by themselves without relying on Washington.

Sheer unpredictability is an issue for all governments, though: Even Russia bemoans the inability to count on any long-term stable foreign policy strategy by Washington. With the war in Ukraine at a stalemate and likely to remain so this year, Russian eyes are on the US election.

There’s a general sense that things will go better for Putin and his entourage in 2024, with Trump’s re-election one of the main expectations, said a person familiar with the Kremlin’s thinking.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

World needs to prepare for ‘more uncertainties’ as Iowa caucuses kick off

By Xu Yelu Published: Jan 15, 2024 09:34

As the US election year race kicks off in Iowa on Monday, experts suggest that the world should prepare for the possibility of Donald Trump being re-elected as President of the US and a United States that is more divided.

The 2024 race has attracted global attention as the US has been involved in two protracted wars, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the Palestine-Israel war, as well as the escalating tension in the Asia-Pacific region. Experts are also concerned that the US election campaign will bring more uncertainties to the already tumultuous world situation. 

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