America is wasting precious resources in Afghanistan with no exit in sight.  The Economist continues be myopic regarding Iran saying that Russia and Iran are colluding to fund and shelter Taliban to undermine western interests.  Even if this is true, it is shortsighted for America to disregard the potential gains for American and world interests to change the situation dramatically by open invitation to Iran to get involved in negotiating peace between Taliban and the current government placed by America in Afghanistan.  An empire cannot run without the ability to facilitate local political equilibrium.  Iran needs to be involved in the process whatever Economist feels.  The real choices are between a future Afghanistan that is an Iranian-Russian protectorate or America can claim influence on the region by bringing Iran into the process.  There is no possibility of any stable American influence in the region without Iran.

Because, idiot, you will guarantee that Radical Islamists who were irrelevant before Israel did 9/11 and US invaded Iraq and Afghanistan will gain access to nuclear weapons.  Then the fun and games of mowing down a lot of brown people far from home will become a serious threat FOR THE FIRST TIME.

Weakening the Pakistani state will give access to potential radical Islamists to nuclear weapons.  Trump is poised to make an insecure world much less secure.  These sorts of stupid decisions are sure to sink the American Empire into oblivion.

The key to undoing some of the damage done by the wars in the Middle East for America is Iran.  It is stupid to try to isolate Iran now that there is a curb on any nuclear bombs.  Diplomatic channels to Iran should open and Iran should be recruited to pacify the terrorism in the region including being part of peace negotiations between Taliban and the Afghan government.  Iran and other regional countries should also be asked to help reconstruct and stabilize Iraq.  This is the right way to handle the region and reduce the influence of terror groups like Islamic State.  The region needs to move to a proper state of civilization and it will not be done by this ‘not nationbuilding but killing terrorists’ of Trump.  While this may sound good for American interests it will keep draining resources indefinitely and will do nothing to actually increase American influence.  Trump’s policy in Afghanistan is myopic and will achieve nothing but an inevitable failure of America to reduce threat of Islamic terrorism by continuation of these useless moves like hiring mercenaries to keep the war in Afghanistan going.

Trump’s strategy is not a strategy at all.  He will have a troop surge of 3000-5000 to train locals on counterterrorism.  The good thing is that US is consulting with India and Pakistan.  This is not going to do anything.  There needs to be a legitimate government that is accepted by the people there.  And much more importantly, Iran needs to be involved.  After Iran already has a deal curbing nuclear bombs, it is stupid for America to keep making Iran an enemy.  The best strategy is to open diplomatic channel to Iran and get them involved in quelling terrorism from Afghanistan.  This war is just a waste of resources and is dragging on for 16 years.

There is nothing new in Trump’s Af plan. The solution is simple: Bring Iran in. Let Iran, Turkey and others in the region moderate peace negotiations between Taliban and the current government. Sending 4000 or whatever new troops and using a lot of bluster will do nothing except keep bleeding resources. “Killing terrorists” is a stupid project plan there. IRAN needs to be unisolated. They are the key to peace in the region.


Robert Lighthizer, center, the United States trade representative, at the initial round of Nafta talks in Washington on Wednesday, said that the pact had “fundamentally failed many, many Americans.” Credit Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters..

WASHINGTON — The renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement is off to a rocky start.

The Trump administration lectured Canada and Mexico on the failures of the current agreement at an opening news conference Wednesday morning, while behind closed doors negotiators began to seek significant concessions from America’s neighbors.

“We feel that Nafta has fundamentally failed many, many Americans and needs major improvement,” said Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, who is leading the United States team aiming to overhaul the 25-year-old agreement.

The Canadian and Mexican representatives were publicly pleasant, emphasizing their commitment to regional trade and the benefits resulting from a regional alliance. But both nations also say the current agreement is not tilted against the United States.

The talks that began Wednesday are the first of several scheduled rounds between now and the end of the year, when the three nations hope to conclude a deal. It is a very fast timetable in the world of international negotiations, reflecting political imperatives in all three nations more than the practical realities of an immensely complex negotiation.

Both Mexico and the United States have national elections scheduled next year.

The overarching issue is the importance of trade deficits. Americans buy more goods and services from Mexico than Mexicans buy from the United States. Last year, the difference was $55.6 billion. The Trump administration regards this number as an indictment of the current trade deal — evidence that Mexico is taking advantage of the United States.

Continue reading the main story

While trade with Canada has been more balanced in recent years, Mr. Lighthizer said Wednesday that over time the United States has run a significant trade deficit with Canada, too.

Such trade deficits, Mr. Lighthizer said, “can’t continue.” President Trump has made it clear that he regards trade deficits as a primary measure of the nation’s economic health.

Mexico and Canada, however, are united in discounting the importance of trade deficits. Many economists agree that the focus on bilateral trade is misplaced. A nation may run a deficit with one trading partner and a surplus with another. What matters is the totality.

“Canada doesn’t view trade surpluses or deficits as a primary measure of whether trade works,” Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, said on Wednesday.


How Nafta Changed U.S. Trade With Canada and Mexico

Trade has contributed to economic growth, but changing dynamics have also prompted concerns about lost jobs and the trade deficit. But when something is manufactured in the United States, it is often made up of parts from around the world.

OPEN Graphic

Mexico has been even more pointed in resisting the assertion that there is a problem. The economy minister, Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, told a Mexican Senate commission last week that he was “delighted to analyze the situation that we call ‘trade rebalancing’ if and when we manage to improve that through expanding trade, not restricting it.”

A key question looming over the negotiations is how the Trump administration’s public bombast will translate into the details of the negotiations. The administration in its early months has repeatedly talked tough and then sought to conciliate trading partners.

The administration, for example, insists that it wants to do away with a system of independent arbitration that allows companies to seek the elimination of tariffs. The system has been used primarily by Mexican and Canadian companies to force the United States to abandon protectionist measures found to be in violation of the agreement.

Another area of potential conflict concerns the automobile industry. The United States wants to discourage importation of auto parts from countries outside the Nafta region. Under the current agreement, a car assembled in Mexico can be imported into the United States without paying an import tax if at least 62.5 percent of the car, measured by value, was made in North America. The Trump administration wants to raise that bar, and to require that a significant portion of those parts come from the United States.

The United Automobile Workers union has long sought such a change.

But carmakers are wary. The importation of some cheap parts helps to hold down the cost of the final product. In general, a higher share of Nafta components, and a higher share of American components, means a more expensive car.

“Many in the business community feel that the Nafta is working quite well and they don’t want disruption in existing supply chains,” said Jeffrey J. Schott, a Nafta expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. Both Canada and Mexico said Wednesday that they opposed specific standards for the share of car parts coming from any of the three nations.

There is general agreement among the three nations that Nafta needs to be modernized. It was written before the advent of Internet-based commerce, for example, and there is broad support for stronger enforcement of workplace and environmental protections. Indeed, the three nations already renegotiated Nafta once as part of the discarded Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

Some issues appear relatively straightforward. The Trump administration is eager to insert provisions addressing currency manipulation. Canada and Mexico float their currencies, and are unlikely to resist the symbolic gesture.

But on more substantive issues, both Canada and Mexico have shown a growing willingness to resist American demands.

Luis de la Calle, a former Nafta trade negotiator for Mexico, said the shock value of Mr. Trump’s bluster and threats had diminished since the presidential election. “Most people thought back then that he had powers to impose duties, close the border, prevent investment,” Mr. de la Calle said. “Now people have learned what trade experts knew all along, that he doesn’t have those powers.”

Mr. Trump also will need to win congressional support for a revised agreement. Democrats, who have long sought changes to Nafta, share many of his stated goals, but Mr. Trump’s political problems could complicate any alliance.

There is also little if any congressional support for the administration’s threat to withdraw from the trade agreement if Canada and Mexico resist improvements.

Representative Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat, said Tuesday that “being bombastic” was not “the mature way” to seek changes. “Ultimately you can have huge disruptions in the economy if you don’t handle this like an adult,” he said.

Ms. Freeland spoke first on Wednesday, and began by holding up pictures of American and Canadian firefighters working together, images that she said “illustrate the deep friendship that our countries share.”

Mr. Guajardo Villarreal struck a similar tone. “Nafta has been more than a trade agreement,” he said. “It has made us think of ourselves as a region.”

Mr. Lighthizer began by acknowledging that Nafta had benefited groups including American farmers and communities along the Mexican border.

Then he insisted that the agreement was broadly damaging to the United States, causing the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

“The views of the president about Nafta, which I completely share, are well known,” Mr. Lighthizer said. “I want to be clear that he is not interested in a mere tweaking of a few provisions and a couple of updated chapters.”

He concluded, “And now, we will get down to work.”

Trump is permanently tied to the white supremacists, despite his various condemnations and disavowals because actions speak louder than words.  Until Charlottesville I would not have thought it was a serious issue but now there is circumstantial evidence tying his father with KKK, although to be fair I don’t know much more about this.  Anyway, after Charlottesville, after the flurry of resignations including call to resignation of Mnuchin by his Yale 1985 classmates, it’s clear that all of Trump’s political enemies will make this issue overshadow his agenda for the entire term.  His effectiveness as the American President was already in question but alienating his party, CEOs of the most important companies, and threatening North Korea with nukes and Venezuela with a military invasion when America is still reeling from massive overextension in the Middle East he does not seem like he will accomplish a great deal in this term.  His administration is then likely to go down as a reactionary blip of racism after Obama’s Presidency, a phase transition for America that will have a significant positive effect of destroying the forces of racism in this country permanently.  If this happens, then the Trump Presidency is to be valued hightly.  He has managed to permanently undermine his business agenda permanently by showing his moral ambivalence.  On the other hand, this is an extremely dangerous time for America.  The empire is under enormous pressure for global economic hegemony with China.  This transition period of Trump threatens the long term future of America.  Unfortunately, fate has given us this situation.  Trump is much more likely to be a liability for American future than an asset.  We have to live with this reality.