|Drawing of the late 16th-century Azuchi Castle near Kyoto, from the collection of the Osaka Castle Museum, via Wikipedia.|
This can be seen especially in the Emperor's conduct of economic war, in which he hasn't followed his own advice but waged it against practically everybody, as The Times was saying,
Don Tzu said, It is better not to go to war. But if you must go to war, go to war against your friends rather than your enemies, for your friends have an interest in letting you look good afterwards.
Over a few weeks, Mr. Trump has declared European and Japanese cars, Chinese telecom equipment and Mexican immigrants national security threats. Those declarations have given the president authority to use Cold War powers to inflict economic pain on countries through tariffs, government blacklists and other restrictions.(with the odd little exception of Russia, neither a friend nor a foe), and found when he does it to the people he hates, like Iran and China, they just end up laughing at him, whereas the European Union or Japan or Australia always make the effort to avoid hurting his feelings.
So, Mexico, against which he declared economic war on 30 May:
It seems this was provoked not by a Fox News person but some talk-radio rant, I don't know from whom, in the absence of some key adults, Pence and Kudlow and maybe Lighthizer, per CNBC:....at which time the Tariffs will be removed. Details from the White House to follow.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2019
President Donald Trump’s Treasury secretary and top trade advisor opposed his surprise plan to impose new tariffs on Mexican imports, according to a source close to the White House who said the idea was pushed by immigration hawk Stephen Miller.
The announcement came as Trump was “riled up” by conservative radio commentary about the recent surge in border crossings, according to the source.As I've said before, the best thing about imposing import taxes (I'm trying to avoid the 19th-century word "tariff", with its smell of high school history class, in favor of a term that makes it clearer what we're talking about, taxes paid by the mostly US-owned companies that import products on the value of the goods they bring into the country)—
The best thing about imposing import taxes, from Trump's point of view, is it's the only action he really knows how to take entirely on Twitter, without getting out of bed or missing any TV, other than firing people (a job he'd much rather delegate), and it's become his favorite way of proving to himself that he's really the president.
I can't believe the whole episode was hardly more than a week, it seemed like three. The general outline of what happened subsequently is pretty clear. The US Chamber of Commerce instantly hated the idea and issued a warning on who would pay the price—
Republicans warned Trump that imposing tariffs on all Mexican imports could upend the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and undermine the economy. Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley called the move "a misuse of presidential tariff authority and contrary to congressional intent," adding that implementing the tariffs would "seriously jeopardize passage" of the USMCA.So you can be pretty sure virtually everybody in the United States with a functioning brain and a minimal understanding of the issue (which may not include most of the mainstream political journalists) understood this was a terrible, terrible idea and had to be stopped by any means necessary, and they got to work. But how could they manage it?
They'd need some help, obviously, from the Mexican government, to produce some kind of document that would convince him he had won his point, upon which he would magnanimously offer to pull back on the new taxes. The Mexican government, however, had already been making quite a lot of significant concessions to the Trump palace in recent months, most notably an expansion of the program to encamp more Central American asylum seekers in Mexican territory while they waited for their hearings, which they'd agreed to in December, and an offer to deploy 6,000 troops their brand new Guardia Nacional, which doesn't quite exist yet, in the service of stopping asylum seekers around Mexico's southern border, which they agreed to in March, so they didn't feel like yielding up anything new.
The solution was to repackage these agreements into a new statement, and tell Trump (who spent the week tootling around England and Normandy and his Irish golf course and was conveniently out of the way) that they'd forced the Mexicans to surrender. He'd have no way of knowing the trick that had been pulled on him, and he'd cheerfully take his victory lap.
Except the imposture was so transparent that not only did the Internet immediately know what had been done (I think Judd Legum was first), but even The New York Times:
It is super weird that the NYT is pretending that figuring out that there is nothing new in this deal requires anonymous sourcing.— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) June 8, 2019
It's all publicly available. Everything in the joint declaration was already announced months ago. pic.twitter.com/TkucKNABzj
So now pretty much everybody knows, and the brethren are doing their best to majestically ignore it, like Hugh Hewitt,
Because President Trump emerges as a clear winner from his week-long confrontation with Mexico over our neighbor’s lax enforcement of its southern border, reflexive Trump critics will scramble to find some way of containing what is a clear Trump triumph, which came with assists by Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who conducted the key negotiations.
or concoct some explanation in the hope of making the facts look normal, like Dinesh, but ending up making it look wackier than ever:
Is this a surprise? I’m sure the details of Reagan’s nuclear treaty with the Russians were negotiated months before the public announcement of the treaty. This is how things are normally done https://t.co/kWuKzvAEK9— Dinesh D'Souza (@DineshDSouza) June 9, 2019
Yes, Dinesh. Everybody remembers how Reagan suddenly freaked out in late November 1987, called it a national emergency that there was no Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and declared economic war on the Soviet Union, to begin in three weeks if the Soviets didn't move immediately, whereupon the negotiating teams got together and heroically agreed to the agreement they'd finished agreeing on in August and September, and Gorbachev came to Washington as scheduled long previously for the 8 December signing, and Reagan told everybody that he'd solved this crisis because of his masterful negotiating skill. Exactly how things are normally done.