Jaw-Jaw With Our “Island Monkey” President

Among the many insulting labels Germans attach to the British is “island monkeys,” according to today’s London Times. Donald Trump, despite being half-German, might perhaps have in him just a touch of the island monkey .  Fresh off his exuberant welcome of Egyptian tyrant al-Sisi yesterday in the Oval Office,  President Donald J. “Island Monkey” Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago to jaw-jaw with Xi Jinping.  Does Trump believe he needs anyone other than Jared Kushner to brief him on the issues?  I don’t wish to misunderestimate Mr. Trump’s brain at all.  And maybe he is listening in private to some people with actual up-to-date and historically informed knowledge of our economic and military relationship with China and East Asia.  I don’t care if he doesn’t even read the one-page memos, so long as he listens and adapts.  In an interview with the Financial Times published last weekend, Trump said that with respect to China, “our country hasn’t had a clue…. the past administration hasn’t had and many administrations–I don’t want to say only Obama; this has gone on for many years–they haven’t had a clue.  But I do.”  Hope Trump’s hubris works out better than I expect.  Trump may be quite right that some previous presidents did not make the most of our leverage vis-a-vis China.  But nostalgia for the glory days of America’s imperial zenith (which just happen to coincide with Trump’s own youth) is unlikely to be the winning formula for cutting great-for-America deals with China.

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