“Rather than securing a better trade agreement for American farmers and blue-collar workers, the real goal of President Donald Trump’s trade war with China was a second term in the White House. So says John Bolton, Trump’s former national security advisor, in a Wall Street Journal excerpt from his forthcoming book, The Room Where It Happened.
Bolton writes that he would be “hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision” that wasn’t driven by the president’s re-election plans. But Bolton singles out Trump’s fraught and sometimes frothy relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping as a particularly striking example of how Trump “commingled the personal and the national.””
“Rather than getting tough on China, Trump appears to care far more about the appearance of getting tough with China than actually accomplishing substantial policy.
That’s been fairly obvious to anyone who cared to look. After all, how many economists and journalists have debunked Trump’s claim that China is paying for the cost of his tariffs, or pointed out that trade deficits don’t work the way Trump seems to think they do? But the tariffs were a useful way to appear to be doing something. From the outside, Trump’s trade policy has looked like a haphazard, self-interested mess from the start; Bolton confirms that’s how it looked inside the White House too.”