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Europe is growing politically more unstable. 2017 will prove a junctural year for Europe, politically and economically. To listen to my Alternative Visions radio show of Feb. 10, 2017, and discussion with guest, Alan Benjamin, a commentator and union activist, who currently works with labor unions in France,

GO TO: http://www.alternativevisions.podbean.com

Or TO: http://prn.fm/alternative-visions-french-elections-2017-le-pen-macron-united-left-02-10-17/

SHOW ANNOUNCEMENT

Jack Rasmus invites guest, Alan Benjamin, to discuss the pending April-May elections in France. How goes France goes Europe, the saying goes. Will Le Pen’s right wing National Front Party pull off a ‘Trump Surprise’ and win the elections, pulling France out of the European Union as she promised? Will the independent Macron united the remnants of capitalist parties and right wing social democracy in the Socialist Party and win? What is the ‘united left’ in formation in France? What does it mean by ‘left frexit’. Benjamin provides a ‘on site’ analysis from his work in Europe and France today not available in mainstream media. Rasmus and Benjamin discuss the collapse of traditional social democracy in Europe as it has aligned with European Neoliberalism and the rise of both right wing populist parties and emerging left wing alternatives. The positions of all the major parties in the French election are explained. Comparisons to the UK Labor Party, Germany’s SPD and AfD, Spain’s Podemos, and with US ‘Sanders-Warren’ efforts to ‘reform’ the US Democrat party are discussed.

Less than a week after assuming office, President Donald Trump signed an executive order abandoning the 12 nation Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement negotiated by former President Barack Obama, but not yet ratified by the U.S. Congress. He then quickly attacked Mexico — abruptly cut short a phone conversation with Mexico’s President Peña Nieto, canceled a meeting with Peña Nieto after demanding Mexico pay for a wall on the U.S. border and threatened to impose a 20 percent border tax on goods exported to the United States based on the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trump’s trade representative, Peter Navarro, then dropped another trade policy bomb by publicly declaring Germany was manipulating the euro currency unfairly to its advantage, stealing U.S. exports, while similarly exploiting the rest of the Eurozone economy as well.

Trump, meanwhile, continued to declare that China and Japan were also currency manipulators who were taking advantage of U.S. businesses and increasing their exports at the expense of the U.S. Their currencies declined by 8 percent and 15 percent, respectively, in recent months. The Mexican peso fell by 16 percent after the U.S. election and the euro and British pound each by around 20 percent in 2016.

Trump’s flurry of executive orders canceling trade deals, his phone calls to country leaders, his appointed representatives public statements, and his constant tweets on social media suggest to some, including the U.S. mainstream media, that Trump is anti-free trade, that Trump is ushering in a new trade protectionism, and that his attacks on free trade agreements, like TPP and NAFTA, will precipitate a global trade war. It is this writer’s view, however, that none of this is likely.

Trump is a dedicated free trader. He just rejects multilateral, multi-country free trade deals like TPP and NAFTA. He wants even stronger, pro-U.S. business free trade deals and intends to renegotiate the existing multilateral treaties — to the benefit of U.S. multinational corporations and at the expense of the U.S. trading partners. Trump’s threats of protectionist measures, like the 20 percent border tax and previous election promises of imposing a 45 percent import tax on goods from China, are primarily tactical and aimed at conditioning U.S. trading partners to make major concessions once U.S. renegotiation of past deals and agreements begin.

And as for a trade war, the answer is also a very likely “no.” The big ‘four’ targeted trading partners — China, Japan, Germany, and Mexico — currently exchange goods and services with the huge U.S. economy amounting between US$1 to US$2 trillion a year. China-U.S. two-way trade amounts to nearly US$500 billion a year, Mexico about as large, and Japan and Germany also account for hundreds of billions of dollars of trade with the U.S. per year. These are the countries with which the U.S. has the largest trade deficits: China’s about US$360 billion and the largest, Japan’s close to US$80 billion, Mexico and Germany around US$60-$70 billion. Given the large volume of lucrative trade with the U.S., these countries will eventually agree to renegotiate existing free trade treaties and trade arrangements with the U.S.

What Trump trade policies represent is a major shift by U.S. economic elites and Trump toward bilateral free trade, country to country. Trump believes he and the U.S. have stronger negotiating leverage “one on one” with these countries and that prior U.S. policies of multilateral free trade only weakened U.S. positions and gains. But free trade is free trade, whether multi or bilateral. Workers, consumers and the environment pay for the profits of corporations on both sides of the trade deals, regardless how the profits are re-distributed between the companies benefiting from free trade.

Trump’s shift to bilateral trade represents the intent of U.S. economic elites to increase their share of trade profits and benefits at the expense of their capitalist trading cousins. And this is not the first time the U.S. has set out to “shake up” trade relations to its advantage. In 1985 and 1986, when the U.S. under Reagan was losing out exports to Europe and Japan, the U.S. forced Japan to the bargaining table and negotiated the “Plaza Accords,” in which Japan was forced to make major concessions to the U.S. This was immediately followed up by the “Louvre Agreements” with Europe, with the same results.

The Reagan team, led by James Baker of the U.S. Treasury, decided to abandon multilateral trade negotiations through the then global General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT. GATT was an attempt to negotiate trade on a global scale involving scores of countries. The U.S. could not get the deal it wanted from GATT trade negotiations, so it turned its fire on its biggest capitalist trading partners — Europe and Japan — and forced the Plaza and Louvre Agreements on them. The results were great for U.S. business, especially multinational corporations. But the agreements play a large part in leading to banking crashes in the early 1990s in Europe and in Japan. Japan thereafter went into chronic recession for the rest of the decade and Germany in the 1990s ended up being described as the “poor man” of Europe.

Similarly today, Trump’s nixing of the TPP and his attacks on Mexico, NAFTA, Germany, and Japan reflect a strategic shift from multilateral free trade strategies and a U.S. policy turn to bilateral approaches to free trade where the U.S. can extract even more concessions from competitors in the critical decade ahead.

One reason for this strategic shift is that global trade volumes have been slowing rapidly in recent years. The global trade pie is shrinking, especially since 2010, when global trade grew at a 20 percent rate; but this past year the growth will be less than 2 percent. Capitalist elites are thus increasingly fighting over a smaller share of trade. For the first time, in the past year, the growth of global trade is slower than the growth of global Gross Domestic Product, even as GDP itself is slowing globally.

Another explanation for the Trump shift is that the U.S. dollar and interest rates are expected to continue to rise. That will result in an increase in inflation in the US. The rising dollar and U.S. prices will mean U.S. multinational corporations’ profits from trade will take a hit. They already are. The Trump shift to bilateral trade is therefore in anticipation of having competitors make up the expected losses of U.S. businesses from trade due to the rising U.S. dollar and U.S. price inflation.

The consequences of the Trump trade shift for the “big four” trade deficit trading partners are mostly negative. Eighty percent of all Mexico exports now go to the U.S. and 30 percent of Mexico’s GDP is from U.S. trade. Mexico’s peso will continue to fall, import inflation rise and undermine standards of living. Mexico’s central bank will raise interest rates to try to slow capital flight and that will cause more unemployment in addition to import inflation and a slowing economy.

For Europe, the U.S. turn from multilateral free trade will add impetus to Britain’s “Brexit” from the European Union, as well as further legitimize other countries in the EU exiting the Eurozone. France could be next, should the pro-Trump French National Front party there win the upcoming elections this spring, which the polls show it is leading.

Japan appears to want to be the first major U.S. trading partner to cut a bilateral deal with Trump. Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, continues to shuttle back and forth to Washington to meet with Trump. The first to strike a Trump bilateral deal may get the best terms. Britain’s Theresa May is not far behind, however, equally desperate to cut a bilateral deal to enable the U.K. to “Brexit” sooner than later.

Where the U.S. clearly loses from the trade policy shift is with China. The end of the TPP means that China will likely expand its own free trade zone, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, negotiated now with South Korea, Australia, India and also Japan. The TPP was the U.S. economic cornerstone for its so-called pivot to Asia (China) politically and militarily. That has now been set back. The expansion of China’s regional trade zone will also further solidify its currency, the yuan, as a global trading currency, as well as strengthen its recent Industrial Bank and “One Belt-One Road” initiatives.

The biggest negative impact of the Trump shift on free trade will be the global economy itself. The shift will take time, produce a lot of uncertainty, as well as reactions and counter-measures. That will only serve to slow global trade volumes even further. All emerging market economies will consequently pay a price in lower exports sales for Trump’s strategic trade shift, the ultimate aim of which is to restore U.S. economic hegemony in trade relations over trading partners — a hegemony that has been weakening in recent years. But this is not 1985. And a safe bet is that restoration will not prevail.

Listen to my radio show of Feb. 3 for analysis of the pieces of Trump’s strategy beginning to emerge and its relationship to past offensives of Nixon and Reagan.

Go To:

http://www.alternativevisions.podbean.com

SHOW ANNOUNCEMENT:

“Jack Rasmus describes Trump’s grand strategy that is now beginning to take shape–economic, social and foreign elements, noting how the Trump strategy reveals great similarities with Nixon in the 1970s and Reagan in 1980s. Trump is Nixon-Reagan on steroids. Rasmus reviews similarities with Nixon and Reagan in Trump’s current attack on US trading partners in Europe, Mexico, Japan, Australia, Germany, Australia and soon China—comparing them with Nixon’s New Economic Program in 1971-72 and Reagan’s 1985-86 attacks on Japan and Europe with the Plaza and Louvre accords. Trump is not against Free Trade, but for bilateral free trade instead of Clinton-Obama multilateral free trade. Trump’s protectionism is tactical. The goal is to advance US corporate interests vis a vis foreign competitors, just as Nixon and Reagan did. Rasmus describes Trump Grand Strategy to date as: Congress drives deregulation of ACA and Dodd-Frank and then focuses on corporate-investor tax cuts. Trump meantime paves the way with Executive Orders, while using EOs to attack immigrants, domestic and foreign; Trump goes slow on major foreign policy changes involving Russia, middle east and Asia, while aggressively attacking immigrants, law and order, proposing election reform and advancing religious groups’ interests. Strong similarities between Nixon, Reagan, and Trump on policies involving defense spending, social program cuts, deficits, strong dollar, attacking the liberal media, undermining unions, massive deregulation, cutting pensions and social security, promoting police and law and order attacks on protestors, and domestic spying and surveillance. (Next week: France and the Future of Europe)”

RT-TV’s Crosstalk Show of January 31, 2017 focused on the subject of whether there is such a thing as ‘Trumpology’. What does Trump represent and is the liberal media vs. Trump something new? As one of three participants on the show, I offered my view that Trump is both something old and something new. He reflects the resurrection of Nixon law and order, silent majority/forgotten Americans, confront the media, force foreign allies to give back conditions to advance US corporate interests, shake up global alignments, etc., taken to a more aggressive level. But he also reflects Reagan Neoliberal economic policies giving even bigger tax cuts to corporations and investors, deregulating business (ACA, Dodd-Frank and more), and he is a bilateral free trader, not a multilateralist. Threats of protectionism are tactical, to soften up the opposition as preparation to renegotiating free trade deals even more favorable to US business. Trump is old wine in new bottles, as they say. But a more ascerbic wine, a harsher form of neoliberalism, with an even stronger domestic policy emphasis of attacks on the ‘new jews’ (immigrants domestic and foreign), law and order (let’s punish the protestors), and an even greater threat to civil liberties, democratic rights, and even more income transfer to the rich than under the old elites in the Democrat-Republican wings of the party of the US elites. Unlike the other show participants, however, I argue Trump is not about to be impeached or removed, especially until he delivers to them the ‘big 3’ programs of bigger tax cuts, deregulation, and a rearrangement of free trade rules that benefit US business even more than before. His tweets and confrontation with media style is designed to keep his right wing base agitated. Steve Bannon is there to communicate directly to that base, and to mobilize it if and when necessary to more directly confront the elites in Congress, their party, the government bureaucracy, and their media.

TO LISTEN TO THE CROSSTALK SHOW GO TO YOUTUBE AT:

Listen to my Alternative Visions radio show of January 27, 2017 and my analysis of the events of the past week, Trump’s first week in office. Does it add up to Trump as incipient fascist? No, not yet, but warning signs appear.

Go to:

http://alternativevisions.podbean.com

or go to:

http://prn.fm/category/archives/alternative-visions/

SHOW CONTENT ANNOUNCEMENT

Dr. Rasmus reviews the major events in the first week of the Trump administration, both domestic and global, as Trump ‘governs’ by Executive Order. Rasmus explains government by executive order has no basis in the US constitution, but Trump is using EOs as the Republican Congress takes the next 6 months to formulate and pass big corporation favored legislation on tax cuts, business deregulation, and replacing Obamacare and Dodd-Frank bank regulations. Discussed are Trump EOs on immigration and the ‘wall’, ACA repeal, and others. Trump’s interview with ABC David Muir and his first press conference. Topics include: the collapse of meeting and negotiations with Mexican president, Pena Nieto, and potential ‘trade war’ with Mexico brewing. Also, Teresa May’s visit to Trump at Republican Party’s retreat, as Britain begs the US to help it bail out of the EU and Eurozone. What’s behind the exodus of career officials at the Dept. of State? Rasmus describes similarities between Trump and Nixon, and discusses the growing discussion whether Trump represents a new fascism? What really are the elements of fascism. The show concludes with a review of some global economic events this past week, including infighting in the Eurozone over QE, Germany’s newest conflict with Greece over debt, electoral events in Germany and French elections, Mexico’s economic crisis, Emerging Markets economies loading up on dollar debt, China’s fight with speculators, and the non-significance of US stock market, the DOW, reaching 20,000.

To listen to my January 20, 2017 interview (21 min.) with Global Research, Canada, on Trump and the Deep State,

Go To: http://kyklosproductions.com/audiocds.html

ANNOUNCEMENT:

Global Research, Canada, radio interviews Jack Rasmus on the significance of the coming Trump regime. What are the deeper political forces and class alignments behind Trump, will the established elites who opposed him take action to check or stop him? Rasmus argues Trump reflects a new coalition of ex-teaparty extremists pushed out of Congress, white working class elements abandoned by Democrats and traditional elites, small business, rural America, rebel generals critical of US foreign policy, and a new aggressive wing of capitalists focused around real estate, oil, shadow banking, etc. wanting a more aggressive restoration of total US global hegemony that has been in decline. Jack argues the traditional elites will allow Trump to proceed with right populist measures focusing on immigration, law and order police action, limiting civil liberties, and attacking the liberal media so long, and until, Trump delivers on corporate-investor tax cuts, deregulation, and does not proceed to dismantle free trade and Nato precipitously. Should he fail to deliver to his popular base, however, and not deliver on behalf of corporations-investors, or proceed too recklessly on foreign policy — they will then move to replace him.

I recent gave an interview with Global Research in Canada, on the significance of Trump and whether the US traditional elites will eventually ‘tame’ him. (The interview will be posted on my website shortly and will be announced here). A listener of the Global Research radio interview replied to me on the subjects covered in the interview, making some very good points. I replied briefly. The exchange follows below:

“Jack,

I was very interested to hear you’re recent interview on the GLOBALRESEARCHNEWSHOUR, and then was
BLOWN AWAY by the volume of serious material you have
on your websites.

As a dedicated observer of “events,” critical websites, etc, I was shocked that I had not heard your name before; and there… recalled yet another affirmation of the mainstream media’s success in isolating our eyes and ears from the wealth of wisdom which is ours to enjoy, so soon as we’re able to connect.

Listening to the interview and your latest podcast, I found myself agreeing on so many points: Trump’s rhetoric vs. real intent, (tax cuts for rich, de-regulation); pivot to China; neo-liberal-con 2.0; Japanese re-armament, etc.

I’m writing to you today because I believe you’re able to see what many otherwise-intelligent critics lately do not; namely, that Trump is NOT anti-establishment.

As you know, there’s a whole campaign underway, (by the corp-rat “liberal” media and CIA) attacking Trump with the lamest, most ridiculous charges.

“Russia did it.”

This would be laughable if it weren’t for the many serious critics who are taking this as evidence of Trump’s “opposition” to the establishment.

Some, like Michel Chussudovsky, describe this as the friction between two factions of the Elite. Chris Hedges speaks of a possible “coup.” Many take this as an opportunity to expose the thoroughly-corrupt, presstitute media and state, (“a shocking, unprecedented intrusion”, etc).

By acknowledging such charges as “attacks,” progressive observers affirm his “anti-establishment” credentials… the core of his credibility amongst intelligent conservatives.

Yet the weak, lame, luridly-absurd nature of the “attacks” on Trump could only be expected to strengthen him; for the very essence of his persona is STRENGTH – the “winner against all odds,” brushing off criticism with nary a care.

In keeping with their character, the Lamestream ‘liberal’ media and the Demoncratic Party are INTENTIONALLY flinging weak, irrelevant shit at him in order to STRENGTHEN his credibility, and then poison/hijack the real resistance.

(Chussudovsky speaks of this latter point quite succinctly… infiltrators, provocateurs, etc).

They’re infecting the widespread shock/outrage over Trump’s seizure-of-power with ridiculous, (facile) self-defeating logic. They’re turning the movement’s eyes away from those liberal/Demoncrats who laid the foundation for Trump, and who keep propping him up in various forms.

This further makes impossible any effective communication with intelligent conservatives, who then see such anti-Trump protests as NOTHING MORE than Demoncratic, liberal mainstream machinations.

Now, it’s true that some are using the term “fascist” quite loosely. Comparisons with Hitler are usually clumsy, at best. Yet lost in the muddle is the historical fact that the Nazis, (and mussolinin’s blackshirts) first represented themselves as REBELS… against “the establishment” – first against the Conservative
Parties, before moving to destroy the liberal state and the left.

While Trump today may be more thug than fascist, the trajectory of his play is certainly FASCISTIC, and the character of his cabinet is decidely so.

Trump is simply serving as a useful front-man for the nasty business going on behind the scenes. TPTB may certainly bump him off or depose him if/when it serves their interests; but for now, the “Trump as rebel “meme is strengthening his position.

On the international scale, the Trump phenom is falling in with a long line of reactionary, anti-immigrant,”strong-man” parties… on the rise in Europe, each… but a few steps away from an openly fascist declaration.

This is entirely in keeping with the decay of capitalism, and the last refuge of the Elite, (for maintaining power): the descent into barbarism, chaos as a tool for social re-organization along military lines, mass murder.

(This may also help to explain a “deal” that may have been made with Putin’s Russia, backing off in return for support of the “populist” movements in Europe, and the “pivot to Asia” instead).

We’ve entered a dangerous new phase, yes?

Yet so long as our critical community, (progressives, left, etc) continues to allow the “anti-establishment Trump” meme to linger, so long as don’t denounce such Demoncratic/liberal attacks as FALSE criticism, then we allow them to hijack the resistance and give fresh (stale) wind to Trump’s sails.

So I’m writing to you, Jack, to encourage you to get the word out wherever you can.

Trump is a con-man/front-man for a fascist advance; and the so-called “liberal” establishment, (media, CIA, Demoncrat Party) are providing a PHONY, (weak, baseless) “opposition” in order to STRENGTHEN him and poison the resistance.

We must dump the Trump and the Demoncrats at the same time, in the same breath.

We must denounce the lying “liberal” presstitute, corp-rat media as useful tools of Trump’s ascendancy, and utterly purge every ounce of Demoncratic influence from the ranks of our resistance.

Thanks for listening Jack,

keep up the great work.

Anthony”

.
Jack Rasmus reply to Anthony

“Thanks for your commentary, and for watching, listening, reading my perspective. I agree, Trump is not yet fascist (in the 1930s sense, but that sense by no means is the only form fascism may take). We should see him as a forerunner, with the potential to become one, a kind of ante-room or proto-fascist form. But first he must neutralize the liberal democratic media, which he is out to do. And he must solidify working class support with more jobs, appearance of anti-free trade, etc. And deliver on the ‘enemy within’ (jews in Germany; immigrants in the US), while appealing to nativist pride (the new nationalism) and identifying with ‘greatness’ (myths mostly) of the past (roman imperialism, the aryan ‘volk’, for US ‘founding fathers’-US Constitution), and reestablishing ‘law and order’ (crush the commies and unions in 1930s; now the central american immigrants killing our kids and muslim immmigrants planning terrorism). This is a fight between two wings of capitalism–one a liberal order that tolerated a certain amount of ‘freedom’ (i.e. minimal voting democracy, minimal civil rights, etc.) but an order that has failed to prevent the collapse of standards of living for millions–and a new virulent wing of capitalists (wheeler-dealer property developers, shadow bankers, big oil, right wing generals, and financial speculators) who want to roll the dice and take bigger risks to re-establish US total control the global economy (as in the 1950s-60s) and bring more ‘law and order’ (aka less democracy, civil rights, liberties, contain protests, check any opposition media–left, internet, NYT-Post-CNN-hollywood crowd)–that might challenge them in re-establishing that total dominance.

If Trump fails to deliver, he will ‘double-down’. And the liberal democratic traditional wing will meantime build a case for his removal in the short run, which they’ll employ if and when he fails (if he doesn’t bring himself to heel). But Trump could also take bigger risks if he feels he is failing, That could also mean more direct conflict with China which is the real target now, not the middle east or Russia. The US elite’s won’t touch him if he is about to get into a war there, or if he delivers jobs, law and order, etc. to his US popular base. In the meantime, as they develop the real ‘dossier’ on him, he will launch his own anti-media offensive against them. You can’t have fascism without taming the media and the press, without crushing popular opposition movements, and without neutralizing the potential opposition from within the more ‘liberal’ and tolerant wing of the capitalist class itself. We’ll see what happens in the coming year. The crisis will erupt no earlier than 2018 I believe.