Sunday Blurbs - News You Should Know

Chinese Trade War Leaves US Rethinking TPP

As the trade-war between the United States and China continues, we should take a look at one of the root causes of it.

The United States leaving the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

None of the 2016 Presidential Candidates supported the TPP, including current President Donald Trump. Shortly after being elected to office, he withdrew the United States from the partnership.

Financially speaking, many people say it is the right call for the United States, however just over a year later the United States finds itself in developing trade war with our top economic competitor: China.

If the United States drops another US $100 billions of tariffs on China as was threatened last week, it would mean that both countries are facing tariffs of 30% of all products that flow between the two. 

This hurts everyone.

And while I believe the United States has a good argument for why they initiated this barrage, I cannot help but to honor the irony in the fact that this is happening because the United States left the TPP. 

The origins of the TPP lie in the fact that the proposed 12-member nations wanted to keep China "in check". Economically smaller nations, such as South Korea, Canada, and Australia, wanted to enact measures to control China's growth, especially considering China does not always "play by the rules".

But when the United States withdrew from the pact, it weakened its ability to suppress China. It also boosted China's ability to work with other nations and make trade deals on their own since the Pacific nations could not rely on the United States. 

Now, because of these developments, the United States is considering rejoining the TPP, albeit with some new verbiage that makes it economically friendlier to the nation.

I am hoping that this comes together. I would much rather see the United States work in accordance with other nations rather than alone. President Trump has voiced his desires to work solely with bilateral deals rather than, multilateral ones, but if the United States wants to remain the world's sole superpower, it needs to make sure it has the support of the world. 

Qatari - Arab Tensions Continue

Qatar and its neighboring Arab States faced off in an economic and diplomatic confrontation that threatened to destabilize the entire region in a widely unnoticed conflict last summer.

For those not in the know: Saudi Arabia & Co. accused Qatar of directly funding terrorism and secretly housing Iranian armed forces. Massive trade embargoes were slapped against Qatar and both Qatar and Saudi Arabia recalled their citizens living in the opposite country. Violence was a certain possibility, yet little attention was given to the conflict. 

And here I am, nearly a year later, talking about this same conflict again, only to find it buried deep within the weekday issues of newspapers. 

Under the weight of heavy economic sanctions, Qatar has gotten even deeper in bed with Iran. The United States does not want an OPEC ally working so closely with Iran. Hoping to ease the tensions, the White House has hosted the heads of state from a handful of Middle East countries to discuss the conflict. While it is too soon to see if anything has improved, it is certainly worth noting that while the United States Military's Centra Command is headquartered in Doha, Qatar, many of the permanent positions held there have been transferred to Amman, Jordan since this conflict began. While this might just be a coincidence, I do not see it as a good sign for the prospects in the region.

The Middle East has always been a region wrought in strife, but now we face a situation where the economic and peaceful leaders are squaring off. If our diplomats are not able to cool this situation down, things might turn a different shade of ugly than we have ever seen before. 

The Battlefields Down in Africa

Did you know there are more US Service Members in Africa than there are in Iraq?

Well, apparently neither did most of our politicians.

The United States Military has over 6,000 troops deployed to various countries in Africa supporting our allies there in the fight against Boko Haram and other violent terrorist organizations. These efforts suffered a brutal setback this past October when four special operations Soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger. At the time of the attack, very few people knew we even had a military presence in Africa, let alone a dangerous one larger than Iraq. 

Negative feedback flooded the airwaves following the news, most of which was asking the simple question of, "Why are we even there?".

In an apparent delayed response to this criticism, Major General Mark Hicks, Commander of the US Special Forces in Africa, ordered that his troops stick to garrison positions, away from the front lines and back in the safety of the installation. The hope is that US Forces can continue helping our allies in Africa from a developmental and logistical standpoint in this fight without putting American lives in direct harm anymore. Hopefully his plan works out and we continue to see a strong and prosperous relationship with these African nations without anyone having to pay the ultimate price.

Jake GavinComment