Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Sleeping walking toward a possible trade war

Sometimes misunderstandings can lead to enormous adverse consequences. In 1941, Japan believed that war was inevitable with the United States. The Americans had slapped a trade embargo on Japan, and made it clear that Japanese occupation of China was unacceptable. The Japanese High Command saw that America was a big industrialized country with resources that it could not defeat in the long run. The only solution was a quick strike to destroy American combat capabilities. The logical solution was a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor as a way of crippling American naval power. The rest, as they say, is history.

Tokyo just had one fatal misinterpretation of the American position. Washington did not consider Manchuria, which was China's industrial heartland and the jewel of Japan's occupation of the Chinese mainland, to be part of China. Had Japan withdrawn its troops from the south and remained in Manchuria, American entry into the Second World War would have been delayed for several years. Under that scenario, Nazi Germany would not have been forced to fight a two front war. Britain and her Commonwealth Allies would have been too weak to land in Italy in 1943, and the D-Day landings would have been out of the question. There would have been no Manhattan Project, or it would have been delayed for several years. Hitler might have been able to develop the Bomb. History could have been dramatically changed,

A similar scenario is setting up in Sino-American relations. Both sides seem to be talking past each other. The result could be a trade war with catastrophic results (see Could a Trump trade war spark a bear market?).

The full post can be found at our new site here.

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