The Perpetual Trade War

The thing with a trade war, like any war, is you need not only a will to win, but an end-game as well. One of the things that have led to the quagmire wars of Afghanistan and Iraq is the clear lack of objectives in the wars. Thus, they become perpetual with any small excuse being used to justify ongoing operations. With no clear and obtainable goal, the war will just drag on and on until the soldiers are tired of fighting and just quit. Just like Vietnam.

Trump’s trade war lacks clear objectives; it lacks an end-game. The supposed reasons for the tariffs change on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. One moment we’re told they’re to get more “fair” trading practices. The next, we’re told they’re for national security. Then, we’re told they’re to bring back manufacturing jobs. Then, we’re told they’re to chase jobs out of China. Then we’re told they’re to address the trade deficit. Then we’re told they’re to address IP theft.

And all that is just from the Administration! Never mind the vast ad-hoc end-games we hear from the Trumpeteers: they’re to screw over China, they’re just optimal tariffs, they’re to force a regime change in China, they’re because Europe didn’t support us in the Iraq invasion, they’re to screw over the libs, they’re just for negotiating, or my absolute favorite “You need to just shut up and trust Trump knows what is best for you as an American.”

With such disparate and often mutually exclusive, not to mention poorly-defined, goals, how can the trade war ever be won? It can only ever be perpetuated.