Zero-sum Trump

Among the mountains of articles I read over the previous ten months on Donald Trump, this one stands out as particularly important for understanding how Trump will approach relations with China and Taiwan. Vox, a left-leaning website, read through all 12 of Trump’s books to see what they could learn about his core philosophies. It is a long article, and some of the books are more informative (or relevant to Taiwan) than others. Fortunately, the introduction gets right to the point. If you don’t want to wade through the whole piece, I strongly recommend reading the introduction carefully.

It isn’t reassuring. Trump is not philosophically predisposed to worry about whether the rest of the world is democratic, stable, or prosperous. International relations are a zero-sum game, and Trump’s goal is to make sure the USA “wins” every relationship by benefiting more than the other side. He also gets tremendous satisfaction out of making deals, the bigger the better. From our perspective here in Taiwan, it hardly needs to be said that a deal with China would be the biggest of all.

Perhaps this is a completely inaccurate portrayal of Trump and his values. I certainly hope so. However, it is consistent with the Trump I have observed over the past ten months. Until he demonstrates otherwise, we should probably take him at his word and believe that he really means the things he says.

The American election has plunged Taiwan into an uncertain environment fraught with danger.

4 Responses to “Zero-sum Trump”

  1. Alan R S Tseng Says:

    Trump is a big disaster, bigger than anyone else, and bigger than what you can imagine.

  2. shiyali Says:

    US presidency is not a one man show, though he has a lot of leeway in setting policies. Trump thinks zero-sum and does not think much of traditional diplomacy? Well, that sounds like a lot of US foreign policy of the last few years.

  3. petergries88 Says:

    While i can understand the anxiety in Taiwan, rather than a big deal with Beijing that sacrifices taiwan, I think the more likely concern is that Trump’s zero-sum predispositions will increase tensions with Beijing…

  4. Zla'od Says:

    Alan R S Tseng: As Han Solo once said, “I dunno, I can imagine quite a lot.”

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