As I expected, the Republicans are starting to realize that the repercussions of the Trump punitive tariffs against México will damage America’s economy and their constituencies. The Republicans are historically pro-international open trade. The fluidity of the trade dispute makes it difficult to forecast what the outcome will be. But here is a nugget to consider, AMLO and the GOP.
On one side are the Republicans who are spooked by the possibility of another trade war, especially with such a large trading partner, like México. It would severely impact the economies of states, like Texas. The Republicans are scared that the latest trade war could spin out of control. The Chinese trade war was more palatable to the Republicans and their constituency because it included the decades-old debate over the theft of intellectual property by the Chinese. In addition, China is seen as a global power able to challenge the Americans on the globally
The Republicans are getting tacit support for the latest brawl from an unlikely source – the Democrats. The Democrats don’t care about the punitive tariffs except that they are a Donald Trump led effort. If Trump were to fail to implement the tariffs it would be a win for the Democrats.
Against this background is the unknown player in the clash – Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO). AMLO’s public stance is that he hopes to resolve the issue with dialog. His negotiating team will have a meeting today that is supposed to reach consensus on the major points of the issue. México has a long history of leaders capitulating to foreign interests to protect political interests.
One such example is Antonio López Santa Ana who lost almost have of Mexico’s national territory. Santa Ana served twelve non-consecutive terms as Mexico’s president. He was held in high esteem by many in México even after several failures throughout his political and military history. Santa Ana was finally exiled by Benito Juárez. Today is reviled by most Mexicans.
Benito Juárez succeeded in defending México against foreign intervention by not wavering on protecting Mexican sovereignty, although Juárez argued for and advocated dialog. Although Santa Ana fought off the American invaders, in the end he capitulated to protect himself.
AMLO does not want to be bothered by foreign affairs problems, especially those from Donald Trump. AMLO wants to focus on his inward-looking domestic policy instead. But the threat of economic damage that the punitive tariffs could impose on the Mexican economy makes it more difficult for AMLO to ignore Trump. Although AMLO is not Benito Juárez – although he recently channeled him – nor is he Santa Ana, he seems to have put off curtailing Donald Trump in favor of keeping his focus on his domestic agenda.
Much will be revealed today after the negotiating meeting concludes. The GOP is unlikely to challenge Donald Trump until they have no option. If the Mexican government capitulates, then the GOP will resolve their problem without challenging Trump.
Simmering in the turmoil is Donald Trump who is out of the country and therefore not directly engaged on the issue. His return to the country will add another dimension to the controversy, the one he created himself.
We will know more today, after the meetings are over and the spin begins.