Monthly Archives: July 2016

Bernie Sanders Fundamentally Misunderstands TPP

As Bernie Sanders’ quest for the Democratic nomination for the presidency winds down, he has set his sight on other lofty ambitions: influencing the Democratic Party’s platform.  Recently, that’s meant vehemently condemning the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which Sanders decries as unfairly forcing workers to compete against “low-wage countries who earn pennies an hour.”

Sanders stands against TPP for economic reasons, though his arguments largely miss the mark.  TPP will likely not affect the American economy.  A U.S. International Trade Commission study predicted that the trade agreement would “lift U.S. gross domestic product by a small amount – 0.15%, or $42.7 billion, by 2032 – and increase employment by a net of 128,000 full-time jobs.”  The effects are not spread evenly.  Business services and agriculture would each grow by around $10 billion; manufacturing would decrease by around the same amount (per the ITC study).

Criticizing the TPP on economic grounds is not the right line of attack.  The approach ignores evidence to the contrary and, more importantly, fails to analyze TPP’s geopolitical ramification, the agreement’s motivating factor.  Sanders’ TPP disparagements therefore shows that he fundamentally misunderstands the multinational trade pact – TPP is much more a strategic foreign relations move by President Barack Obama than it is a free-trade pact designed to affect the domestic economy.

China’s influence across Asia is growing.  Its development as a country and increasing international clout threatens America’s standing as the world’s sole hegemon.  The spread of Chinese political thought – illiberal, totalitarian governance coupled with a quasi-capitalistic economic system – threatens America’s commitment to liberal democracy.  TPP comes at a time when “China is…pushing to accelerate the transition to a new order in Asia – one in which China itself has greater influence over the United States, Japan, and other smaller states in the system.”  The trade agreement seeks to contain China by boosting America’s image in Asian and Southeast Asian countries, some of whom, like Vietnam, already view China’s rise with weary eyes.[1]

And it’s easy to see how TPP will accomplish that goal.  A study done by Peter A. Petri and Michael G. Plummer of Brandeis University estimates that the economies of Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore will grow by 8.1, 7.6, 5.9, and 3.9 percent, respectively, by 2030.  There’s no better way to ingratiate America to the people of these countries than through economic and income growth.  Both will increase the standard of living for people throughout TPP member states and, coming from American action, will pull those countries away from Chinese influence.

Lowering trade barriers, apart from creating prosperity for the involved countries, fosters a culture of openness and togetherness.  Member nations must work together to establish rules by which all must abide.  Doing so creates the long-sought society of states where countries coexist in a peaceful, stable order that builds wealth and promotes the general welfare of all those involved.  TPP creates that society, headed by the United States, in a region where an aspiring hegemon hopes to overpower American interests.

What’s more, if successful, TPP could induce China to apply for membership.  Though such an action is not imminent, President Obama mentioned that China has “already started putting out feelers about the possibilities of them participating at some point.”  Their membership would hinge on “major changes to its economy, international diplomacy and attitude toward free trade.”  In turn, that would ideally lead to China further accepting capitalistic reform and the political liberalization that usually accompanies market reforms (this on top of the benefits accrued from China entering a society of peaceful states).  Distant, perhaps infinitely so, the possibility of China entering TPP and working with America on equal grounds is worth mentioning as a TPP plus.

TPP poses the best means for America to curry favor with Asian and Southeast Asian countries while containing Chinese influence.  As such, opposing TPP on pure economic grounds not only fails to accommodate research findings, it displays international ignorance.  Sanders embraces a position that simply does not make sense and, in fighting TPP, he demonstrates that TPP’s true benefits and design eludes him.  As Michael J. Green and Matthew P. Goodman stated, “The opponents of TPP have offered no better pathway to [the aforementioned] beneficial future.”

[1] In a sense, TPP fights fire with fire: China expanded its sphere of influence largely through the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.  Soft power often yields the best results in foreign relations.

Donald Trump is an Anti-Semite

Donald Trump has risen to power through a message of xenophobia and overt racism.  Hidden among his racially-charged rhetoric is another lurking beast: Antisemitism, the likes of which should immediately disqualify him from office.  Courting Neo-Nazis and other white-nationalists — and, through Trump’s frequent retweets of their messages, granting them a large, eager audience — should not be accepted in a major party’s nominee for president.

Here are but a few instances of Trump’s antisemitism, played out for all to see:

1) Trump Retweets, with Startling Frequency, Antisemitic, White-Nationalist Accounts

Twice Trump has twice retweeted @WhiteGenocideTM, a user who claims to live in “Jewmerica” and links, in his profile, a site promoting a documentary that urges viewers to “think differently” — sympathetically — about Adolf Hitler.  The account frequently retweets Neo-Nazi propaganda and greets all profile clickers with this lovely image, directed towards non-whites:

donald trump kkk

Trump also retweeted a now-deleted antisemitic account that put together a blatantly false, altogether racist meme regarding crime statistics.

donald trump racistApparently,  the meme’s origin from a Neo-Nazi account that praised Hitler appealed to Trump and instinctively earned his trust.  He didn’t bother to fact-check the image.  Here’s the account’s profile:

donald trump anti-Semite

In case it isn’t painfully obvious, the “Austrian chap with the little moustache [sic]” to whom the account claimed we should have listened is Adolf Hitler.

2) Trump refused to condemn, on national television, renowned Klansman David Duke

The incredibly painful interview:

Trump, who claims to have “the world’s greatest memory” apparently couldn’t remember the details about David Duke or Duke’s endorsement, despite Trump having talked about Duke in the days leading up to the CNN interview.

Duke, in 2003, penned a book seeking to expose quests for “Jewish Supremacy” and has called Jews the “real problem” facing our country.

3) Trump Told Republican Jews They Wouldn’t Support Him Because They Couldn’t Buy Him

This came after he told the Republican Jewish Coalition “you just like me because my daughter happens to be Jewish.”

It’s hard to spot notable differences between Trump’s argument here and those espoused by David Duke.

4) Adopting “America First” as a Slogan

Trump decided to up his nationalist appeal by unraveling a spiffy new slogan: “America First.”  The phrase, designed to conjure up xenophobia (American should be for Americans, not colored people!), has its origins in a group of Nazi sympathizers.  That Trump chose it for his presidential quest is no surprise or coincidence.

The American First Committee arose at the beginning of World War II, before America’s entry into the affair.  It advocated remaining neutral in the war and treating the Nazis as a legitimate political and governing party, one with whom the United States should do business.

However, the Committee, already on the wrong side of history, furthered its foray into antisemitism when Charles Lindbergh, the face of America First, revealed his deep-seated antisemitism, calling Jews a great threat facing the country.

Henry Ford, a prominent anti-Semite, and Avery Brundage, “the former chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee who had prevented two Jewish runners from the American track team in Berlin in 1936 from running in the finals of the 4×100 relay,” also originally sat on America First’s executive committee.

America First’s ugly history, one tainted with the foul stench of antisemitism, is of course conjured up by Trump’s use of the slogan.  It can be no surprise: Trump’s campaign had long involved antisemitic tropes before adopting “America First.”

The slogan is just another in a long list of antisemitic activities by the aspiring tyrant.

5) Linking the Star of David with Corruption and Greed

Most recently, Trump sent out an insulting image that combined Hillary Clinton and the Star of David with images of money, representing greed, and the inscription “most corrupt candidate ever!”

donald trump antisemitism

It’s origin?  8chan’s /pol/, a message board dominated by white-supremacists, anti-Semites, and Neo-Nazis.

The Trump campaign claimed it lifted the image from a Twitter user (who has since deleted his account) who again espoused antisemitic and Neo-Nazi viewpoints.

Either origin means that campaign staffers perused alt-right, Neo-Nazi feeds for images they could use to attack Hillary Clinton.

Jewish leaders and Republican officials quickly moved to condemn the meme.  The Trump campaign offered a second defense: They claimed the star represented a sheriff’s badge, not the Star of David.

For those curious, a sheriff badge has rounded corners.

donald trump sheriff badge

Whereas the Star of David has sharp corners.

donald trump star of david

There’s little doubt as to which the meme references.  Rather than own up to its mistake, the Trump campaign continues to lie and mask its blatant antisemitism.

Unacceptable Antisemitism

Does any of this come as a surprise from a man and campaign who accepted a white-nationalist to be a delegate to the Republican National Convention?  It shouldn’t.  For months Trump has been displaying, even touting, his antisemitism.  It’s time Republican leaders pushed back against Trump’s hatred and bigotry by refusing to lend him their support.  Voters need to take heed of Trump’s actions and recognize that their beloved candidate may very well be a modern version of Adolf Hitler.