Nothing happened yesterday in Helsinki, Finland, which offered anyone any hope for a more peaceful world, a world wherein the behavior of Russia will be restrained from — shooting down civilian aircraft, from invading neighboring nations, from attacking the democratic institutions of free nations, from poisoning and killing people in the United Kingdom, from supporting other egregious regional dictators, from assassinating journalists, from fomenting disorder in western democracies and western democratic institutions both economic and military.
What does Putin want? Does he want to take back control of the Baltic nations? To make further incursions into Ukraine? To increase the influence of the faltering Russian economy? To fly the Russian flag — physically and metaphorically over the world camouflaging the fundamental weakness Reagan recognized; Russia as a third world nation with a first world military. Whatever Putin wants, whatever goals he wishes to achieve, he has a willing tool — a useful idiot? an unwilling accomplice? a willing foil? — in the President of the United States of America. We can rationally assume Mr. Putin wants more than just a press conference with an obsequious President.
There will be many commenters who can provide context and additional information about the geo-political ramifications of the Debacle in Helsinki, some have already weighed in. I’m going to retreat to my comfort zone — my soybeans if you will — and look at the debacle from that narrower perspective.
Russia’s economy isn’t even in the same ball park with the United States and China. The US has the world’s largest GDP, (pdf) China has the second, then it’s downhill.
Notice that Russia isn’t in the top five, it isn’t even in the top ten; it’s number 11 on the 2017 wold bank rankings. If we were looking to obvious alliances to maximize economic benefits the US and China have the most to gain by cooperating. We have the top two economies, by far and away the most powerful economic engines in the world. Yes, we have differences — intellectual property rights issues in particular — but given the inter- connectivity of modern manufacturing, logistics, and capital, cooperation will get both countries ahead of what they could accomplish singularly. So, what does the current mis-administration do? Assault the EU and slap trade penalties on China. So, this is reported this morning:
President Trump is inciting a trade war, undermining NATO and painting Europe as a foe. It’s no wonder, then, that the European Union is looking elsewhere for friends.
On Tuesday in Tokyo, it signed its largest trade deal ever, a pact with Japan that will slash customs duties on products like European wine and cheese, while gradually reducing tariffs on cars. The agreement will cover a quarter of the global economy, and is the latest in a string of efforts either concluded or in the works with countries like Australia, Vietnam and even China.
Now, look back up to the ranking list. Then, the article continues:
While the president was threatening to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement, the European Union was putting the final touches on a free-trade pact with Canada. It took effect late last year.
Europe also reached a deal in principle with Mexico to update an existing free-trade agreement, one that should be finalized by the end of the year. Accords with Vietnam and Singapore are going through the final stages of approval.
Lovely, nothing like spurning all the girls at the dance and then wondering why one is rapidly becoming the world’s wall flower. So, we’re throwing in our lot with the Russian economy? Why? The *President may call Russia a competitor, but I can call my dachshund a rottweiler too, all to the same effect. [WBUR] And, there’s this observation to contemplate:
Two other GDP comparisons are illustrative of Russia’s economic weakness. Its GDP is barely more than that of South Korea, yet South Korea’s population is slightly more than one-third of Russia’s. In effect, the South Korean people are three times as productive as the Russians.
The GDP of the European Union (EU), which Russia is aggressively trying to undermine, is 11 times greater than Russia’s GDP even though the EU has only three-and-a-half times as many people as Russia. Like the South Koreans, the EU population is three times as productive as the Russians.
In international trade, Russia does not amount to much other than as an energy exporter and, increasingly, selling wheat to China. Ranking just 16th among the world’s exporters, in terms of dollar value, Russia’s impact on global trade is minuscule compared to China or Germany despite its substantial oil and natural gas exports.
On a per-capita basis, Russia is even more deficient as an economic competitor. In 2017, Russia’s per-capita GDP was under $11,000, less than one-fifth of U.S. per-capita GDP and on a par with Turkey and Romania.
Russia’s economic shortcomings long predate the sanctions imposed on it by the United States and other countries. Its economy is hardly a first-class performer for its citizens due to its weakness. In fact, they are not faring well.
In short, Senator John McCain was correct in observing that Russia is a gas pump masquerading as a country. If someone can take a look at that GDP ranking list and explain to me — in rational terms — why the US would pick fights with Mexico and Canada, with the European Union, with the UK, with China, and then cuddle up to a “gas pump masquerading as a country,” please do so!
In addition to statements being constitutionally deplorable, militarily insane, and morally reprehensible, Orange Blossom added a large dollop of unadulterated economic IDIOCY.