Trump policies and La La Land

Rizwan Ghani

As Trump heads to uphold his election promises, it is attracting different reactions within America and rest of the world. His policies on immigration, American jobs for American people and proposed changes in financial policies have attracted both strong criticism and support. It is too early to see how Trump is going to uphold his election promises to serve average American. But one thing is clear that they have lot of expectations from Trump because they have not benefited from the globalisation in last two decade.
The Mexico Wall Tax policy will fail. The wall is going to cost around $14bn. Since the Mexican government has refused to pay, so the average American taxpayer will pay for it. The economists have rejected the idea of taxing Mexican goods to pay for the wall. The surveys and reports have also shown that number of illegal immigrants from Mexico have fallen in last five year by 45 percent. According to Fox, former Mexico president, in an interview said that if Trump imposes 20 percent tax on Mexican goods, it would cost America ten million jobs. In 2016, US exports to Mexico were $270bn. The tax war will negatively impact jobs and economies of both countries and reduce Trump’s 24-million job plan to 14 million.
The Trump, May press conference showed differences in their policies. May’s posturing of getting Trump’s commitment for obsolete NATO is empty. Trump is on record that he will not pay US share of NATO which is 73 percent of the total cost. EU members are not ready to pay more for NATO. Trump does not support EU, he prefers bilateral deals after his personal experience of dealing with EU from Scotland.
Trump will not go against Russia as part of US-China policy. Crimea will stay under the control of Moscow and like Georgia, Ukraine will have to make adjustments with Moscow. Trump is not going to support regime change policy in Syria. With the scrapping of TPP, regional trade deals will surface. Trump will deal with Putin at bilateral level. UK is out of the loop. The detailed parameters of US-China policy will emerge after upcoming Trump-Modi meeting. Instead of banning immigrants or blocking countries, West should accept responsibility. Trump and May cannot walk away from the fallout of American and British wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya. The global refugee crisis is result of West’s wars, interference and failures in ME and Africa. Banning immigration and putting countries on “no entry list” and under extreme vetting and watch policy is not a solution. These people need help. Trump is trying to protect his country but what about US allies who stood with America in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya as part of Washington’s policies. In this regard, the people of Pakistan are victims of US-Afghan, and US-Russia policies. They are facing consequences of failures of American policies in region for the last three decades, which May accepted in her US visit. Pakistan spent more than $100bn on US war in Afghanistan, lost more than 100,000 lives, millions have been internally displaced, lost trillions of dollars in commerce and trade. Today a liberal secular Pakistan of early 70s is now fighting against so-called radicalism and extremism backed by India and its allies in West to protect their geo-strategic and geo-economic interests.
Protectionism, nationalism and globalisation can work together. President Xi gave a message of win-win cooperation in Davos. There is a need for realistic economic cooperation on lines of China’s “one belt, one road” to bring benefits to all parties without undermining national interests. China has successfully lifted millions out of poverty, created millions of jobs and still maintained economic growth. The successive governments have failed to do the same in the West which has contributed to rise of nationalism, protectionism and anti-immigration policies. Changes should be made in economic models to serve ordinary worker who has been left behind in last 3 decades. Following steps can help: banking reforms, universal wage, wage control of CEOs (1933 US Supreme Court judgment 5:1), end tax havens, eradicate corruption, earning based tax, transparency, accountability, free healthcare, education and pension plans. The policies of high taxes, blocking cheap imports, criticizing other countries for keeping currency value artificially low or blaming immigrants or cheap products for stealing American jobs is not going to revive rust belts of America, fulfil needs of poor Americans who are dependent on cheap imported goods, or have strong economy without controlling multinationals, Wall Street and restoring traditional banking.
Finally, there is a difference in real world and La La Land. The timing of release of La La Land movie with its classic cars, dresses and music is reminiscent of prosperous America. Trump is trying to sell this sanitized image to his voters in which America has jobs, factories and no immigrants. Problem is that there is no such La La Land in our world. America is a country of immigrants. Like Merkel, he should step forward and make a policy to help immigrants who are suffering due to failed policies of America and its allies.
—The writer is senior political analyst based in Islamabad.

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