A review of “In Trump Time: Inside America’s Plague Year,” by Peter Navarro (All Seasons Press, 304 pages, $22.99)

Why Trump’s ‘Sudden Zen’ Strategy Foundered

China snubbed the globalists’ recent love fests in Europe, but watched them closely. When Joe Biden apologized for America asserting its own interests during his predecessor’s term, Beijing pounced. Through its Global Times mouthpiece, China mocked Biden as “powerless” and suggested that America’s core strength—its republican form of government—is actually its greatest weakness, in that presidents come and go and policies change in Washington, while Beijing’s single-party rulers could relentlessly pursue their goals across decades, even from one premier to the next. 

China has the wrong ideas about human liberty and freedom. It has the wrong ideas regarding governance and economics. Its cancerous behavior with respect to America and the West should never have been allowed but it cannot go on forever, as cancers tend to kill their hosts and then die themselves. Cracks are already beginning to show, in the reversal of its ghastly one-child policy and in its real estate bubble exemplified in the Evergrande collapse. China is no paper dragon but it is also not invincible. Yet, it does appear now as if it’s the colossus rising to displace and perhaps even destroy the United States as we know it. 

Biden’s feeble presence in the White House is not just unhelpful; it probably could not have come in a worse way or at a worse time. As Peter Navarro, former Trump adviser and long-time China watcher observes in his new book, In Trump Time: Inside America’s Plague Year, China is and has long been guilty of committing what he calls “Seven Deadly Sins” against the United States. Those sins include hacking to steal American intellectual property and subverting U.S. research institutions by buying off top researchers and their work. The Trump Administration, or rather Donald Trump—as will be explained shortly—was engaged deeply in stopping China’s sins in order to protect American security and jobs, and ultimately, to curb the multitude of threats China poses.

Donald Trump led this effort. Navarro was one of his key allies, as he details extensively in the book. But as Navarro writes, and as a keen observer can occasionally see, Trump was undermined from within and blocked from without when it came to dealing with China. From without, a media that happily accepts payments from China runs interference for the Communist regime in its reporting. The Democratic Party, which has been in thrall to China since the Clinton years and its now largely forgotten fundraising scandals, has Maoist elements always hovering near the centers of power. The university-government complex is even more Maoist in its woke mores, often sounding like it wants campus show trials to replace hard-won American jurisprudence. Every denunciation of America as “systemically racist,” every toppled statue, every groveling apology offered by today’s cancel culture target, comes straight out of China’s Cultural Revolution playbook. 

The Republican establishment is not without blame; far from it. When President George H. W. Bush paved the way for China to achieve “Most Favored Nation” (MFN) trade status, he laid the cornerstone for China’s rise from backwater to global power. President Bill Clinton campaigned against MFN, only to go back on his word once in office. President George W. Bush then made that status permanent in December 2001. He asserted at the time that MFN would bring China into the same ruleset that the rest of the world lives by and would improve its human rights record. That seems like a joke now. 

China flouts rules, plays the victim, runs concentration camps, gobbles up whole manufacturing sectors, swallows Hong Kong, menaces Taiwan, muzzles the NBA, and mocks America, all while launching aircraft carriers, building fifth-generation fighters, and conducting massive joint military exercises with Russia. Under Putin, Russia is mobilizing to menace Europe as China does Asia and the Pacific. Their behavior is raising alarms in Taipei, Seoul, Tokyo, and even Ho Chi Minh City, but tellingly, not so much in Washington. 

It’s tempting to say that, perhaps, Trump failed. Navarro writes that seeing the Seven Deadly Sins of China clearly, Trump sought to impose a “Sudden Zen” strategy of encircling China economically in a series of tariffs and penalties until it capitulated and stopped its sinful ways. It was classic Trump strategy, according to Navarro—bluster here, praise there, but act resolutely in America’s interests with a strategy in place to achieve desired outcomes. 

But Trump was undermined from within by his own staff and by both the Republican and Democratic Party establishments. Navarro calls out Trump officials including Rex Tillerson, Steve Mnuchin, Larry Kudlow, and Mike Pence, among others, for reducing Sudden Zen to dust in the wind, benefitting China at the expense of American power and American jobs. 

Recall, during the Trump years multiple manufacturers had jobs back from China back to U.S. soil in direct response to his rhetoric and his policies. The COVID pandemic seemed to accelerate the trend. The current supply chain issues should bring the many issues of depending on China into even sharper focus. Now the Biden Administration tells American energy workers it callously fires to make solar panels—but about 90 percent of those are made in China. 

China’s sins grow deadlier by the day, sapping America’s strength. This would not be happening if Trump’s time in office had not been so gravely compromised by the sinophile establishment, Peter Navarro convincingly writes, that holds power in both parties. 

About Mark Anthony

Mark Anthony is a former Silicon Valley Executive with Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR). Mark is now the host of the nationally syndicated radio called The Patriot and The Preacher Show. Find out more at patriotandpreachershow.com.

Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

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