By Patrick Watson via Iris.xyz
“You break it, you own it.” Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell cited this Pottery Barn rule back in 2002. He was advising President George W. Bush of the consequences should an Iraq invasion go badly.
In fact, Pottery Barn has no such rule. You can go in their stores and handle the merchandise all you wish. They see occasional breakage as a cost of doing business. But Powell still chose a good metaphor. Presidents aren’t just shopping for knickknacks when they make economic and foreign policy decisions. They have real, sometimes deadly consequences.
Bush should have listened more closely. Far from the “cakewalk” Pentagon officials predicted, the Iraq War cost the US vast amounts of money and several thousand lives, not even counting the (much larger) Iraqi death toll. Worse, the underlying nuclear proliferation problem Bush sought to solve is still with us.
President Trump’s trade war looks more like the Iraq fiasco every day. Some of the China-related problems are real. The US is right to demand changes. But Trump’s tariff strategy is…
- hurting American businesses, farmers, and consumers;
- not solving the China problems; and
- possibly making them even worse.
When you can’t possibly win, the wisest choice is to disengage and try again later. Beijing appears to be doing exactly that. Conversely, Trump is breaking valuable merchandise and still not achieving any of his trade goals. That may be entertaining, but it’s not “winning.”
Read the full article at Iris.xyz.