Idiot in Chief: Setting America Back

June 8, 2017

spiegel

Back in 2002-3, I remember pleading with my high school bud, Dave Camp, then on the Ways and Means Committee, (he was to become chairman) to make him understand that there was nothing China would like better than for the US to step into a bloody, expensive bear trap in Iraq.

Obviously I, and a pitiful few others, were unpersuasive in keeping the chest pounding patriots of the GOP from plunging the country I love into an expensive, bloody, unjust, counterproductive, catastrophic, and just plain stupid, war.

It would seem that the more disastrous the policy, the greater the attraction for  so-called “conservatives”.  And so it still is today.
Genetic? Or the environmental effects of Fox-induced brain damage?

Der Spiegel:

Until the very end, they tried behind closed doors to get him to change his mind. For the umpteenth time, they presented all the arguments — the humanitarian ones, the geopolitical ones and, of course, the economic ones. They listed the advantages for the economy and for American companies. They explained how limited the hardships would be.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was the last one to speak, according to the secret minutes taken last Friday afternoon in the luxurious conference hotel in the Sicilian town of Taormina — meeting notes that DER SPIEGEL has been given access to. Leaders of the world’s seven most powerful economies were gathered around the table and the issues under discussion were the global economy and sustainable development.

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The newly elected French president, Emmanuel Macron, went first. It makes sense that the Frenchman would defend the international treaty that bears the name of France’s capital: The Paris Agreement. “Climate change is real and it affects the poorest countries,” Macron said.

Then, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reminded the U.S. president how successful the fight against the ozone hole had been and how it had been possible to convince industry leaders to reduce emissions of the harmful gas.

Finally, it was Merkel’s turn. Renewable energies, said the chancellor, present significant economic opportunities. “If the world’s largest economic power were to pull out, the field would be left to the Chinese,” she warned. Xi Jinping is clever, she added, and would take advantage of the vacuum it created. Even the Saudis were preparing for the post-oil era, she continued, and saving energy is also a worthwhile goal for the economy for many other reasons, not just because of climate change.

But Donald Trump remained unconvinced. No matter how trenchant the argument presented by the increasingly frustrated group of world leaders, none of them had an effect. “For me,” the U.S. president said, “it’s easier to stay in than step out.” But environmental constraints were costing the American economy jobs, he said. And that was the only thing that mattered. Jobs, jobs, jobs.

At that point, it was clear to the rest of those seated around the table that they had lost him. Resigned, Macron admitted defeat. “Now China leads,” he said.

Associated Press:

China may be poised to fill the breach. The world’s largest emitter of man-made carbon dioxide, considered a top cause of climate change, is already making rapid progress toward its Paris goal of stopping emissions growth by 2030. It has overtaken the U.S. in transitioning to renewable energy, generating a fifth of its electricity from renewable sources. The U.S. only sources about 13 percent of its electricity from renewables.

And although China remains heavily reliant on coal and pollution is a persistent problem for its 1.3 billion citizens, the country’s communist rulers say they’re determined to institute fundamental change. That commitment has much of the world now looking to Beijing, which wants to assert itself on the global stage.

“They were doing this before Trump was elected,” said Carolyn Bartholomew, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission chairwoman. Criticizing Trump in a personal capacity, and not on behalf of the bipartisan panel that advises Congress, she added: “He’s just making it easier for them by pulling the U.S. back from the position of global responsibility.”

China was positioning itself even before Trump officially declared his intentions in Thursday’s Rose Garden speech. It said this week it would work with the European Union to uphold the agreement, whatever Washington decided, with Premier Li Keqiang and EU officials set to discuss the matter Friday in Brussels.

Even potential U.S. partners reached out across the Pacific.

Gov. Jerry Brown of California, America’s largest state economy, said he’ll travel to China this week to build foreign support for carbon-cutting efforts. Such alliances “build momentum for a clean-energy future,” Brown told The Associated Press in an interview.

China’s emergence as a new, alternative unifying force is hardly limited to environment. As the Trump administration has stepped back from America’s traditional role of dominance on trade and development, China has filled the vacuum, expanding its ever-growing footprint across the globe on everything from new roads and ports to bank loans and energy projects.

To Washington’s chagrin, China last year set up its own development bank to meet needs left unfilled by U.S.-led institutions like the World Bank. Last month, President Xi Jinping hosted more than 20 world leaders for a show case of its economic initiative to build infrastructure linking Asia and Europe. Earlier this year, Xi made a high-profile speech in Davos, Switzerland, embracing at least the idea of an economic globalization that Western leaders like Trump are increasingly fleeing.

By contrast, Trump has pulled the United States out of President Barack Obama’s ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that would have spanned a dozen nations from the U.S. to Chile to Japan. China wouldn’t have been privy to the deal. Trump also is proposing sharp cuts to U.S. budgets for humanitarian and development assistance for the world’s poorer nations.

On climate, Beijing is taking action. It recently canceled construction of more than 100 new coal-fired power plants and plans to invest at least $360 billion in green-energy projects by the end of the decade. Its consumption of coal fell in 2016 for a third consecutive year. It could meet its 2030 target a decade early.

New York Times:

China is capitalizing on the leadership vacuum left after President Trump said last week that he would pull the United States out of the Paris accord to limit climate change.

China has already started an expensive campaign at home and abroad to solidify its considerable hold on solar, wind and other energy-saving businesses. If successful, China would win the economic and diplomatic spoils that the United States and some European countries have long enjoyed from dominating businesses like software, computer chips and airplanes.

China’s sway will be on display in Beijing this week at the Clean Energy Ministerial, a gathering of top energy officials from two dozen countries and the European Union that represent producers of three-quarters of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. While the United States will be there, its representatives reflect the country’s deep split. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, an enthusiastic supporter of fossil fuel industries, will attend, along with Gov. Jerry Brown of California, a vocal supporter of renewable energy.

China is an unlikely champion in fighting climate change. The country is the world’s largest polluter, and its problems could grow as people buy more cars and use more power. It remains deeply dependent on coal, an especially dirty source of power.

And the race in renewables hasn’t been won. The United States and European Union accuse Beijing of unfairly subsidizing its green industries and have raised trade barriers against Chinese-made goods. American companies and local governments are set to continue their clean-energy push despite Mr. Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris accord.

As with much in China, the clean-energy drive is much more about economic advantage, national security and political stability than an idealistic commitment to saving the earth.

The country’s “Made in China 2025” program, the heart of Beijing’s domestic industrial policy, calls for heavy spending on clean-energy research and development, as a way to bolster the economy. State-owned banks are pouring tens of billions of dollars each year into technologies like solar and wind along with energy conservation strategies like high-speed rail and subway lines.

 

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8 Responses to “Idiot in Chief: Setting America Back”

  1. Sir Charles Says:

    The Spiegel cover above says “the end of the world (as we know it)”. The country you love so much, Peter, has managed to isolate itself from sanity and the rest of the world. That is very likely due to a system that is fostering inequality, a system that has been captured by oligarchs, a system run by corporations. Predator capitalism at its best…

  2. Sir Charles Says:

    Oh, and I forgot to say, it’s all the fault of China… of course.

  3. indy222 Says:

    The greater the inner emptiness, the inner sense of impotence, then the greater the temptation to overcompensate with phony bravado idiocies like the Iraq War. Now as the world heads into climate chaos, what will the Conservatives do to distract awareness of their responsibility for such mass desecration of this Earth and our future? How far will they go to prove their Big Hands and Potency against the obvious evidence to the contrary? Scary to contemplate.

  4. Jean Mcmahon Says:

    Trump is stirring up discord in the Middle East so he can attack Iraq and get control for oil for his buddies…I think..I think he attacked the Muslim Mayor of London,to keep americans angry..all about oil

  5. rabiddoomsayer Says:

    The US broke their side of Bretton Woods, time to end it.


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