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The new US-Administration, Mexico, China and … India
The new US-President won the presidential campaign with anti-Mexico and anti-China rhetoric. By cancelling NAFTA, the free trade treaty among North American nations, he has started to redefine America’s neighbourhood policies. Mexico and Canada have good reasons to expect a rather unfriendly, if not hostile future for their continental relationships. The emblematic “beautiful wall” to be built by the United States against illegal immigration from Mexico will, once built, certainly make trans-border migration more difficult. This and the deportation of Mexican “illegals” from US territory will, among other effects, reduce the foreign workforce, be that legally in the country or not, available for low paid jobs generally refused by US citizens. Such low paid jobs actually exist because US industry and private households do need them; in certain fields they structurally need them. In as far as immigrants who are illegally in the country get lost as workforce, the US economy and private households will pay for it. The President expects Mexico to pay for the wall. As the Mexican Government has already given the right answer to such a preposterous pretension, i.e. “of course, not”, the US President intends to make Mexico pay indirectly by raising import duties on Mexican goods. This can put a strain on Mexican export industry. But who will pay the import duties? The US consumer, of course, who else? New American policies towards its Southern neighbour will put a burden on Mexico, but, for sure, it will backfire at the US economy as inevitably as macro-economics can predict. So much for Mexico. China, too, “deserves” a tougher approach by the US, according to the current White House tenant. In accordance with campaign rhetoric, China will have to “give back” jobs that left America. China is being blamed for other ills of the American economy, in the US President’s understanding of how economics works, because China took advantage of globalising free trade. Now, China can afford to oppose hostile new policies, let alone rhetoric. America’s new strategies of “Making America great again” are antagonising the rest of the world, in particular those who matter for the US, like Mexico as a neighbour and China as a global competitor and the world’s largest creditor of American debts. Their effect will be to hinder the US to get “great again”. America’s loss of influence is inevitable, the rise of others will be the consequence; the domination by the Super Power will be replaced by regional powers dominating their neighbourhood like Russia and Iran do, enhancing, thus, the trend to a multipolar world as opposed to the dominance of one Super Power. Take an example: America’s strategic objective of “regime change” in Syria is the only world power’s goal in that region that remains unfulfilled. Russia, Turkey and Iran are “running the show” in Syria without the USA. And for the rest of the world, China is successfully building up its positions as coming global power. It is colonising the South China Sea, it buys land in Africa and in South America, it develops deep sea ports in Pakistan and Sri Lanka and the trade port of Athens, Greece, for the benefit of its own global commercial strategies and it has started to get tough on North Korea, its protégé. China’s economic and military power projection capacity develops to be in correspondence with its population size, which is four times the size of the USA. The size of the population determining the size of the domestic economy is becoming again an indicator of future outreach capacities in the international economic and, ultimately, the military field. Against this background, the question naturally, so to speak, arises where the second power by population size, India, stands. India has not been in the focus of the US Government so far, apart, maybe, from IT-specialists immigrating legally to the US and “taking jobs from Americans in America”. Indian dreams of further developing the strategic partnership graciously offered by previous US Governments under Bush jun. and Obama, have not materialised yet. Prime Minister Modi, who has done so much right in the strategic field, has not managed to attract the Americans’ attention, neither as a nuisance, nor as a positive relevance and helpful support to “make America great again”. The size of the population and of the domestic economy necessary for a dominant role in world affairs are not lacking in the case of India. But even as the world’s number one buyer of arms and of other military procurement goods, the Indian Government seems unable to impose itself on international politics. What’s wrong with India, then, we ask. And wait until India, too, starts to “become great again” after two centuries of foreign colonialism and domestic socialism. The ingredients would be at hand.
28th February 2017 / Philippe Welti