Commentary on Political Economy

Monday 13 May 2019

Paul Krugman and the Pax Americana

And Trump’s trade war should correspondingly be seen as part and parcel of his embrace of foreign dictators, lack of respect for our allies, and evident contempt for democracy, at home as well as abroad.
But wait, you say: China is neither an ally nor a democracy, and it is in many ways a bad actor in world trade. Isn’t there a reasonable case for confronting China over its economic practices?
Yes, there is — or there would be if the tariffs on Chinese products were an isolated story, or better yet if Trump were assembling an alliance of nations to confront objectionable Chinese policies. But in fact Trump has been waging trade war against almost everyone, although at lower intensity. When you’re imposing tariffs on imports of Canadian steel, on the ludicrous pretense that they endanger national security, and are threatening to do the same to German autos, you’re not building a strategic coalition to deal with a misbehaving China.
What you’re doing, instead, is tearing down what’s left of the Pax Americana. – Paul Krugman, NYT, May 12.

Finally, Krugman has come round to the view that “China is neither an ally nor a democracy, and it is in many ways a bad actor”. Of course, China is much much worse than that. Self-admittedly, Krugman was sitting in a café’ sipping a caffelatte when he wrote these lines, so one may forgive his flippancy, especially if it was one of those fine New York mornings when Bryant Park or Union Square can look like heaven on earth. But he is also flippant about the Pax Americana. Because in reality the US have been shafted by the so-called “allies” – especially Germany and Japan – for far too long after the last World War. All these miserable mercenary cowards have been hiding for far too long behind the coat-tails of Uncle Sam while heroic American soldiers kept the peace around the globe and risked and often lost their lives in that noble effort.

Well, it is about time that these lousy vermin pulled out their finger, rolled up their sleeves, took up arms and help the US fight dictatorships starting from the hideous Han Chinese to keep us all safe and free! Instead of gaming the system, bet a bob each way, and benefit from "amicable relations" with heinous filthy Chinese rats!

One more point. Krugman says that “it is not that Americans have grown poorer but the rest of the world has grown richer” – which is why the US cannot ensure the Pax Americana as effectively as before. There are a couple of corrections to be made here. First, the world’s population has increased exponentially. Second, the US cannot take blunt measures to discipline wayward rogue states except in all-out war, and not even then as Vietnam showed. Third, saying that “Americans have not grown poorer but others have grown richer” is basically admitting that Americans have suffered while other countries – of course, the Chinese rats above all! – have benefited from investment from US corporations that have made (a) a few Americans obscenely wealthy and (b) worse, the ugly avid rats in China wealthy enough to waste enormous resources on their military and on subsidizing some industries (starting with Huawei). It is as a result of these investments – in search of lower wage costs and the mobilization of resources that only a brutal dictatorship like the Chinese could ensure – that these filthy rats have acquired enough effrontery to raise their ugly necks….so we can cut them off as we are already beginning to do at long last!

By far the most important matter that Krugman omits is that China is a very poor Empire - as poor as the Dominican Republic on per capita terms. The fact that it squanders valuable resources on its military is all the more reason why we must confront and destroy these beasts right now! Krugman speaks of “the rest of the world getting richer” but in reality what has happened is that hundreds of millions of human beings in the Third World have been brought under the subjugation of (a) Western capital and (b) of their own truculent and murderous dictators. These facts by themselves expose Krugman’s flippancies and levities for what they are.

My advice to him is: next time you write an opinion piece, make sure it is not while you are sipping a latte!

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