By Ai Jun Source:Global Times
Which countries can be considered “friends” of the US? Nowadays, the answer is probably: no one. Even Washington’s traditional allies may need to think twice before giving their answer. “I think we have a lot of foes,” said US President Donald Trump Sunday during an interview with CBS News. Apart from naming Russia a “foe in certain respects” and China “a foe economically,” Trump complained that “the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade.”
Amid endless quarrels with other NATO members about defense spending, Trump wrapped up his tour in Brussels, during which he also accused Germany of being a “captive” of Russia for Berlin’s pipeline deal with Moscow.
Trump’s political philosophy is getting increasingly obvious: Since those countries have benefited a lot by unfairly taking advantage of the US, one must offer enough benefits to Uncle Sam before becoming a friend of Washington, and this friend must not get stronger, because the ultimate goal of Trump is “America First” and only America can be great again.
Take the EU for example. Trump has long articulated his frustration with the US’ supposed unfair share of NATO’s costs and how little his allies spend on their militaries. He also said that Brussels is treating the US unfairly on trade. His logic is simple – how can he possibly spend big money to boost EU security and strength to challenge the US’ status of being No.1 in the world? Oh, please. Not to mention that Europe hasn’t stopped buying oil from Russia despite sanctions. It irritated Trump.
Trump wants all the world to import more from the US and buy as many “Made in America” products as possible. Yet how can that be possible? “There has never been a better time to diversify,” said Joe Pickerill, spokesman for Canada’s trade minister, on Twitter. However, the New York Times put it bluntly that “diversification is the polite way of saying that America’s friends and allies believe we [the US] have become an unreliable partner, and they are now looking elsewhere.”
According to The Nikkei, British chip design house Arm Holdings will sell a 51 percent stake to Chinese investors and “cedes control of China operations to a local joint venture.” It means when the US is banning chip sales to China, its ally, the UK, is taking over chip orders from the Middle Kingdom.
After Washington withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, quite a few countries sped up their trade negotiations with other nations. Tokyo is promoting the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement. Seoul is turning to Russia for a free trade agreement (FTA) in the service and investment sectors. The EU also initiated negotiations for a FTA with Australia.
An increasing number of countries have started to reduce their dependence on the US. They realized that when Trump is striving for more benefits for the US, he is playing a zero-sum game. In such a case, who are still willing to be the US’ friends?
Since nearly every country is considered by the US as a foe now, will they sit idly by to be crushed by Washington one by one? Or will they unite against Trump’s protectionism? I think the world has already stood at the starting point of the second path.