News or views or issues from the USA.
Washington Post: Trump considers investigation of international trade partners
President Trump is considering an executive action that would launch a formal investigation into the way U.S. trading partners use subsidies and a tactic known as “dumping” to skew imports and exports, a White House official said Sunday evening.
If signed, the executive action would call for a review of foreign trading practices and could, depending on the results, be followed by retaliatory trade measures from the administration.
The executive action would additionally reflect a tension within the White House between the economic populists, who have argued for more aggressive and adversarial moves against foreign countries, and the growing influence of pragmatists, who have called for a more measured approach.
The prospect of US-Russian cooperation to defeat the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda in Syria, a top priority of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, may be on life support following US missile strikes on a Syrian air base April 7.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned that the United States is “prepared to do more, but we hope that will not be necessary.”
Following the US missile attacks, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed “for restraint to avoid any acts that could deepen the suffering of the Syrian people.”
Putin has given top priority to re-establishing Russia as a regional power in the Middle East. His backing of the Syrian government boosted his reputation as a credible partner, and he will be loath to lose face.
Tillerson, with his experience of difficult and successful negotiations in Russia as CEO of ExxonMobil, may be well-suited for the task of trying to get US-Russia ties back on track. Both countries seek the defeat of IS and terrorist groups; that has not changed.
Bruce Riedel writes that the US airstrikes in Syria will “raise expectations” in Saudi Arabia, and that “the royal family will expect an American strategy to get rid of Assad sooner rather than later. More military strikes against Syrian regime targets and the Iranians are what the Saudis want to see.”
RealClear Politics: Rex Tillerson, Jared Kushner’s Understudy
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was hired to be America’s top diplomat, but less than three months on the job has proven he is definitely not. As president of Exxon Mobil, Tillerson, 65, was one of the most powerful people in the world, enjoying lucrative work away from the spotlight.
A few months later, the secretary of state has found himself in a job-share with a 36-year-old foreign policy neophyte married to the president’s daughter.
But as valuable as Tillerson “The Titan” may appear in a high-profile crisis moment, he has been generally relegated to outsider status within the small power circle centralized in the West Wing.
Jared Kushner, who like his father-in-law is a real estate heir, has the more final word on foreign policy.
And Nikki Haley — who thus far has been more visible and outspoken than Tillerson in her role as ambassador to the United Nations — is now viewed as the next secretary of state, prepared to step in after Tillerson bails.
Thursday morning, hours before the airstrikes, Axios noted that Tillerson operates in Kushner’s shadow and added a quote from “a friend” who said, “I don’t know what Rex does every day.”
During the transition Kushner was sneaking the Russian ambassador through the back door of Trump Tower, while someone high up also OK’d sending Erik Prince — founder of Blackwater — on a secret mission in the Seychelle Islands, facilitated by the United Arab Emirates, to meet with someone close to Russian President Vladimir Putin in hopes of establishing a back channel to Moscow.
In his third week on the job, President Trump hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago without Tillerson, though his Japanese counterpart was in attendance.
When Bibi Netanyahu visited the White House, not only was Tillerson nowhere to be found, the entire visit was conducted by West Wing officials without any State Department staff.
Kushner can’t fix everything everywhere at the same time. Tillerson might have to step up.