Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A President Is Winning — and It's China's

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

A President Is Winning — and It's China's

Article excerpt

"We're going to win so much," Donald Trump said last year, "you're going to be so sick and tired of winning." And "you'll say, 'Please, Mr. President, we beg you sir, we don't want to win anymore.' " He was right. We just didn't know that "Mr. President" would be President Xi Jinping of China.

As Trump makes his diplomatic tour of Asia, the West faces a simple and unfortunate reality. Four powers in the world are strong enough to meaningfully shape global affairs: the United States, the United Kingdom/European Union, Russia and China.

Europe and Britain are turning inward, battling the self-inflicted wound of Brexit and trying to minimize the damage from illiberal populism in Hungary and Poland. America under Trump has taken a transactional, short-term view of diplomacy that willfully cedes U.S. influence and leverage – except on a narrow band of issues dear to Trump.

These trends mean the West is smashing its geopolitical might on the anvil of its own foolishness. The authoritarian regimes in China and Russia are gleefully picking up the pieces.

Here in Bangkok, it's striking how everyone I talk to – from generals in the country's ruling military junta to liberal-minded political party leaders – says the same thing off the record: China is the new power. Trump's America is waning. And we can extract what we need from him using flattery, without giving up anything meaningful.

A former Thai foreign minister told me Trump sees Thailand exclusively through the lens of helping to pressure North Korea. So Trump's message to the military junta was simple: Help us isolate North Korea. The problem? Thailand already was happy to do so.

Even though Thailand's military regime has recently arrested journalists and forced an elected head of state into exile, Trump gave the regime international legitimacy and a full visit to the White House last month. That is worth a huge amount to Thailand's generals. It was a major bargaining chip. Trump threw it away in exchange for Thailand agreeing to buy an infinitesimal 155,000 tons of U. …

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