Interesting take – Superpower Showdown: How the Battle Between Trump and Xi Threatens a New Cold War

This newly released 2020 book is not for a neutral reader looking for neutral insights.

This book portrays Trump as the first US President to use tariffs as a master stroke which has eluded the minds of past presidents. Bill Clinton is portrayed as the President who failed to act tough and thus failed the US till Trump comes to the rescue.

One can’t find any analysis whether the actions by Trump and his hawks like Navaroo and Lighthizer are logical and good for both countries and the world generally. Collateral damage analysis to human lives seems to have mainly eluded the two authors as mere data.

Lighthizer, unlike Mnuchin, came out very badly as an unethical man. {p 208}.

While some of the insights and analysis are thought provoking, there are comments in the book which show the slant of the authors.

For example, in the context of China joining the WTO with the assistance of the US we have the comment ” a move that… turn China into the world’s biggest trader and leave the US wondering whether it had made the right choice in helping China prosper.” {p 11}.

Another example, the trade war didn’t start with Trump but was due to the failure of past US Presidents to confront China.

Interesting insights provided by the authors are that Xi Jinping had made it clear at the outset of negotiations to the US that eliminating the tariffs was a bottom line demand { p 15}, and that Abe consulted psychologists for advice on dealing with Trump {p 171}. The writing is brisk and easy to read. The infighting in the Trump camp between Lighthizer and Mnuchin etc are vividly described. A surprising omission is Mike Pompeo who for all his howling and bluster merits no significant mention in this book. So, till a better and more neutral book comes along, this book makes interesting reading as long as one has a broad knowledge to know where the authors have departed from neutral reporting to partisan narrative.

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