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Monday, June 1, 2020
Home Op-Ed Columns Opinion on Page One The grief we get from Trump and China

The grief we get from Trump and China



United States President Donald Trump, the “stable genius,” thinks through his Twitter feed and countless hours facing the boob tube — his obsessive telebabad. Trade wars, real wars, political wars are mostly driven and undergirded not by a deliberate decision-making process, but by his megalomania. His worst impulses have overridden expert advice. He has set aside critical briefing papers and intelligence reports in favor of the toxic imploring of those wingnuts on Fox News — his valued  advisers on both domestic policy and international affairs.

During the congressional briefing on the killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, Trump’s national security officials failed to answer a question  as basic as  the legal justification for the killing. It is clearly a fight between an “Amateur Hour” president and an ancient civilization. “We are playing golf while they (Iranians) are playing chess,” said Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

If he were leader of small Monaco, his depravity would have little bearing on the world at large. The harm would be bearable. The problem is this figuratively small man has an outsized role as the leader of the free world. From the truth and fact-free chambers where he tweets, he spreads mayhem and chaos unto the world at large. In a moment of great candor, our own Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor admitted that Mr. Trump is the number threat to the stability of the global economy.

Just look at the impact of his latest exercise in wingnut policy — the killing of Soleimani. On us, on our economy that is reliant on overseas workers. On our oil-reliant economic activities.

Immediate casualties: 3,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) rudely dislocated from good paying jobs in Iraq. Not only that, but also 3,000 OFWs whose evacuation was funded by public money.

The spike in oil prices is an economic danger as  damning. Transport cost will go up.

Manufacturing costs will also rise. Electricity costs for the households will likewise move upward. The poor farmers, already savaged by government policies, use diesel for their shallow tube wells whenever irrigation water is in short supply, which takes place with alarming regularity.  There is hardly any sector of the economy that would be spared from the brutal impact of an oil price spike.

Bourses across the globe  have gloom and doom on the trading floor.

We are used to sufferings. But Trump’s Middle East misadventure has led the leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to raise the alert level on local terrorist activities. The AFP has warned that “ sympathy attacks “ might be launched by local terrorist groups in response to the killing of Soleimani. Iran has proxy networks all too ready to spread violence and mayhem.

Why did Trump give the orders to kill Soleimani? Some say that Soleimani often got into the nerves of Trump because of his vicious name-calling. He once called Trump a “ bartender “ and many other derogatory, belittling names.  To experts, Soleimani was not even a great military strategist.

The truth,  according to a  journalist who first made a name covering the tumultuous and bloody affairs of the Middle East — Thomas Friedman of the New York Times — Soleimani was a  dumb  and overrated general, whose own misadventures — of course sponsored by his religious backers — have led to Iran’s rot from within. Friedman even claimed that the Quds Force led by Soleimani had been so infiltrated by Israeli intelligence that whenever Soleimani ordered strikes from precision rockets he positioned in Syria, Israeli forces would strike back minutes later with extreme precision and maximum casualty.

We have yet to venture into the trade war launched by Trump against China, which principally hurt the US in particular and the global trading order in general.

The AFP’s decision to raise the alert level on the activities of local terrorist groups came a day after the Department of Health warned all ports of entry on possible carriers of a mysterious viral pneumonia, you guessed it right, from China. Every time there is an alert that concerns an existential threat to both humans and animals alike, there is this a 99-percent chance the place of origin of that scourge is China.  And there is every reason to be very afraid.  Take the case of the African swine fever (ASF).

Farm bio-security experts have placed China’s ASF-related hog casualty at 40 percent of the entire hog population, or a big chunk of the global pork production. From China, it spread to the Philippines via tainted pork from the many Chinese regions affected by ASF and the offshore gaming workers with clothing and luggage carrying the ASF virus.

In my home province of Pampanga, the “ Hog Belt “ in the Porac-Angeles-Magalang areas, which was once one of the largest hog-producing enclaves in the country and a major component of the P250-billion hog industry, has been wiped out by the ASF. I do not know the casualty count in Region 3. Batangas, which also has a thriving hog genetics business, in particular. But a true accounting of the loss would reveal a very grim picture, a once-thriving industry dealt a major blow by ASF from China.

The ASF is a hog-killing machine and in the current wastelands ravaged by the ASF, there is job loss, the slowdown in the retail, slowdown in the sale and distribution of animal feeds, veterinary drugs and the auxiliary sub-sectors dependent on hog-raising.

The pneumonia virus that is believed to have originated from Wuhan City in central China, is more serious . This is a case of a possible killer virus, probably as lethal at the severe acute respiratory syndrome.

The Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs), or online gambling, are banned in China and, as usual, we are too grateful for junk from other countries, Criminal elements are mixed up in the POGO business and a string of online scams related to the POGOs has been exposed by police authorities.  The once-hyped crypto-business at the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority  has been found out to be running online scams, with the crypto fraud as front.

I have yet to move into the issue of shabu, the drug of choice of the addled mass. It slips with regularity  from China into the country and it is at the root of the country’s drug problem.

Not one Chinese shabu supplier has fallen victim to extrajudicial killings. Only the poor in the slums are dealt  that extreme sanction.

No wonder shabu merrily slips through our ports and porous borders. It is sometimes expedited at the  clearing area for vital imports.

The grief that shabu brings is incalculable. No one seems determined to stop the flow and execute the big-time suppliers.


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