Internationality and Truthiness

            Yesterday the President said that “Every nation in the world has been taking advantage of us.  We’re going to put a stop to that.” 

            I thought:   “Every nation?  Jeez, aren’t there just a couple of countries that haven’t been mean to us?”

            Like, Haiti.  Really, what have they done to us?  I mean, it’s so hard to really abuse the United States when you have a hurricane every three years that floods your hillside slums in seas of mud and you just wish to hell you could get your kids across the river/bridge/border into the Dominican Republic.  Right?  How did Haiti “take advantage” of the United States?  By accepting our charity and letting our doctors help them through these catastrophes? 

            Cuba.  I’ll give him that one.  Castro refused to sell Cuban cigars to the United States.  To a Republican Senator, that’s gotta be some serious retribution, like the second or third level of Dante’s Inferno.  For decades there has been a complete and utter absence of Cuban cigars in the Senate, except for the ones they smuggled in from Canada.  Castro committed this heartless insult by not violating the US ban on Cuban imports into Estados Unidos.

            Britain has absolutely TAKEN us.  There’s no doubt.  Atlantic partnership, my sodden hairpiece.  Britain colonized us, taxed us, invaded us, burned the White House in 1812, and exported all of those long-haired boppity-boo kid musicians who got to play on the Ed Sullivan Show.  They took our beautiful P-51 Mustang and put a Rolls Royce Merlin V-12 in it, just to show us up ( and turn it into the greatest fighter plane of World War II).  Every Jaguar ever made broke down and was incredibly expensive to fix. They joined the EU, and then they Brexited.  Plus, they have a Queen.  And, she’s like 112 years old and still knows what the hell she’s doing, unlike our Head of State.  (Yes, future professors of political science, the President of the US and the Queen of England are both “Heads of State”.)

            But, Gambia?  South Africa?  Brazil?  How can Brazil take advantage of us?  Most of you who are reading this, just like the President, don’t even know where The Gambia is, much less that they just replaced a torturing dictator with a former waiter who lived in Britain and saved somebody from choking or something.  (It’s in West Africa, by the way, for all you future geography professors.) 

            The trade balance between the US and The Gambia is … wait for it … $298,000.00 in imports, and $42,000,000.00 in exports … a net trade surplus of over $41 million dollars that we sell to Gambia over what we buy from them.  Way to take advantage or poor little America, you Big Dog of West Africa!

            Or, Haiti! … We import about $1.2 billion from them, and export about $980,000,000.00, for a net trade surplus of $200 million and change.  It made me wonder, so poor and all, how Haiti could even afford to buy over a billion dollars of American made goods.  But, they do.

            I think Iraq has taken CRAZY advantage of us.  We blew up their country, and they didn’t give us their oil.  Ingrates.  Ungrateful ingrates.  Completely thoughtless rude unappreciative oil-pumping ingrates.

            Germany, Japan, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands:  We gave them the Marshall Plan.  What did they give us back?  France kicked our troops out of the country, just 15 years after we liberated them from the Nazis.  Germany and Japan built cars that were better than ours.  Italy kept the Pope and changed governments every six months.  Netherlands legalized dope and put out the red lights for our guys stationed over there.  How ya gonna keep em down on the farm after they see that shit?  Seriously?  THANKS, NETHERLANDS!! … You suck almost as bad as DENMARK!!

            India banned Coca-cola and stole all the robo-calling jobs, ever, which were ever created in the whole freaking world. “Hello?  Sir?  This is Anthony calling from United Canadian Pharmacy about your prescription. … “

            No!  You’re NOT Anthony.  You are NOT calling from Vancouver BC.  You are, sir, FAKE NEWS and ALTERNATIVE FACTS.         And don’t call back again until I’m out of Cialis.

            I read today that a peace demonstration in Germany in 1932 drew 600,000 people.  Yes, 600,000 Germans demonstrated for peace the year before Hitler took power.  After the casualties of World War I, the German people had a “pathological fear of war.”  Sir Ian Kershaw, British historian,  writes:

Where Hitler pulled a masterstroke was in persuading them for years that he was striving for peace, not war, that rearmament was the best way to secure German defence, and that he wanted no more than ‘equal rights’ with the western powers in terms of military strength.

            Where have you heard that before?  “Peace through strength.”  Lately, we’ve been hearing:  “I’m gonna re-build our military.  We’re gonna have the most fantastic, the most beautiful, the most awesome military.  Other countries are not going to dare to oppose us.”

            Guess what, they’re already scared.  We are, truly, the world’s only superpower.  We have the most incredible war-fighting capability ever created.  We can strike anywhere, any time, any place in the world with anything from smart missiles launched from drones to sub-launched ICBMs sufficient to blast us all to Alpha Centaure.

            But contrary to the President’s assertion, it appears there are quite a few nations that have not figured out how to “take advantage of us” in trade and job creation.

            Qatar:  Qatar imports $4.9 billion from the US and exports $1.1, for a net trade surplus with Qatar of about $3.8 billion.

            Saudi Arabia?  We have over a billion dollar trade surplus with the oil kingdom.  Check that?  Fo’ sho’?  Yes, we sell Saudi Arabia more goods and services than the value of the oil and other products we buy from them.

            Kazakhstan buys nearly $400 million more from us than we do from them.  Trade surplus, baby!!

            Believe it or not, we have a small trade surplus with Iran!  Our surplus with Hong Kong is almost $40 billion.  Most of the Asian-Pacific rim is killing us in this respect, but our trade surplus with UAE (United Arab Emirates) is $20 billion.

            Is Trinidad and Tobago taking advantage of us?  Absolutely.  They have beaches nonpareil.  But, they buy more of our stuff than they sell to us, even after American tourists flood their duty-free shops and buy emeralds and rubies that they, in turn, imported from Myanmar, Tanzania, and Sri Lanka (“the jewel of the Indian Ocean”, producing more than fifty varieties of gemstones).

Our trade surplus with the Netherlands is over $25 billion a year.  Here’s a list of their top ten imports from the US: 

  1. Medical, technical equipment: $6.5 billion

  2.  Machinery:  $5.7 billion

  3.  Electronic equipment:  $4.8 billion

  4.  pharmaceuticals:  $4.3 billion

  5.  Oil:  $3.3 billion

 6.  Aircraft, spacecraft:  $2.1 billion

 7.  Organic chemicals:  $1.6 billion

 8.  Plastics:  $1.1 billion

 9.  Oil seed:  $1.1 billion

10.  Other chemical goods, $877.2 million

If those sneaky Dutch don’t stop taking advantage of us this way they’re going to have to start importing KY Jelly by the shipload.

There are 22 nations we trade with whose names start with the letter “M”.  We have surpluses with 16 of them.  

Israel is a thief of our money.  They sell us $10 billion more than we sell them, even though we give/sell/finance their armed forces.  But, we have a $2 billion surplus with Egypt, despite all the prunes. Olives, and dates we buy from them.  They can pound sand.  They’ve got pyramids, ancient aliens, secret tombs, the Nile river, the Aswan Dam, runestones, and the the  Muslim Brotherhood.  But, they buy our stuff:    Trade Surplus, Baby! and an absolute failure on their part to “take advantage” of the good ol’ US of A.  Egypt? Taking advantage of the U.S.? Ha! Baloney and bullfeathers.

What the heck do you think we’re selling to all those Middle Eastern countries, anyway?  What are our primary exports to Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Israel, and Egypt?  C’mon now, seriously, what does the US make that every nation in the Middle East wants?  Still guessing?  Think hard.  I’ll give you a hint, it’s not oil; they have plenty   of that.  (Okay, all you future generals: it’s — shhhh — weapons … guns and ammo, airplanes, missiles, comms, all that kinda stuff.  The United States exports one third of all the arms sold on the import-export markets, globally, every year.  Take advantage of THAT, Suckahs!)

Sure there are nations that “take advantage of us”, if that means they sell us more goods and services than we sell them.  But, we set it up that way.  We’re a “consumer society”, which means we borrow money to buy things and then borrow more money to buy more things.  By its very nature, a consumer-driven economy is going to run some big trade deficits, because we purchase manufactured goods from other countries, and manufactured goods are more expensive than raw materials.  For all you economics gurus, that’s because labor and capital turn raw materials into manufactured goods.    

There was Pax Romana; Pax Britannia; and now Pax Americana:  “the American Peace”.  Truman called the Korean War a “police action”, which made us the world’s policeman.  We have allies, alliances, relationships, treaties, trade agreements, and friends to help us.  Not “every nation in the world” takes advantage of the United States.  

Historically, we’ve done pretty well at taking advantage of others.  Our treaties with the tribes really turned out pretty well, at least until they started taking that word “sovereignty” seriously.  I’m pretty sure Mexico would build Trump’s Wall on their own dime if we gave them Texas, California, New Mexico, and Arizona back.  France would probably take the “Louisiana Purchase” off our hands, especially now that we’re completing the pipelines down to N’awlins.  Plus they’d get most of the Mississippi Valley and the Wide Missouri.  At the time, of course, most Americans thought the Louisiana Purchase was a profligate example of being taken advantage of by Napoleon.  Darn that spendy liberal Thomas Jefferson, anyway.

I have no doubt the Russians would like to push the “Re-Set Button” on Seward’s Folly.  But then, they didn’t have the clear-eyed vision of Sarah Palin.  She can see Russia from Alaska, but the Russians couldn’t see Alaska from Siberia back in 1867.  There was too much fog, and global warming hadn’t properly set in yet.  Of course, right after he signed off on buying Alaska,  Andrew Johnson got impeached.  I’m just sayin’. 

Wouldn’t you like to know why we have a $745 million trade deficit with Estonia?  What the hell can Estonia make that we would buy that much of?  Okay, services and goods:  phones, communication equipment, IT stuff … like that. (For all you officer candidates and future State Department types, Estonia is one of the Baltic States, up above Germany and Poland, left of Russia, and almost all its Jews were killed in World War II.)  

Still, the President’s got a point; if Estonia can beat us, anybody can beat us.

I almost forgot about Latin America.  Mexico’s a done deal.  They won’t build the wall, they have gangs, and our trade deficit with them is YUGE … not even counting the drugs that come this way or the guns that go that way.  El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Venezuela, Brazil — let’s just say they’ve got issues.  Plus, the President of Venezuela drones on and on and on and on and on while his people starve to death and kids can’t get medicine.  They can’t take advantage of themselves, much less the USA.

Australia is doing a horrible job of taking advantage of us.  Really bad.  A complete and total disaster.  Absolute bugger all.  Our trade surplus with Australia is over $12 billion a year.  But then, perhaps trade balance is not the one and only measure of whether another nation is “taking advantage of us.”  

I just find it so paranoid and devastatingly imbecilic for the President of the most powerful and wonderful nation ever in the history of the world to whine about inequity and unfairness of the whole world and every nation in it towards the United States.  

Really?  We invaded Iraq in 2003, got Britain and a few others to give away some of their young men, blew the country up, and still today, 14 years later, they have a suicide bomb or a car bomb that kills dozens of people almost every single day in Baghdad.  We had one of those here in OKC and it changed our collective urban psyche instantly and forever.  In Baghdad, they have a Murrah Building almost every single day.  Boom.  There goes another 33 Shia; or Sunni or Sufi or Kurds or Christians … Some kids, some parents, some amputees, some parts blown off.

And then they hear our President say they cannot come to our country, and we should have taken their oil while we were there.  

Those sneaky rotten lying cheating Iraqis!  They were so ungrateful they didn’t just give us their oil to pay us for coming to save them.  They’re worse than the Congolese who didn’t appreciate King Leopold II, right?  

The wonderful thing about Trump is, he’s getting us to watch the news and pay attention because he loves to be the star of the show.  Every time he accuses CNN of being fake news, people start watching Jake Tapper and both Trump’s and Tapper’s ratings go up.  When the CBS news anchor, Scott Pelley, says “It’s been an interesting day of alternative facts in the Trump administration”, the media hones and sharpens the sword that is the word of fact-finding investigative journalism, a lost art which appears to be raising its head again, and just in time we hope to freaking God.  

Other administrations mostly shaded the truth with spin.  The Trump administration creates its own truthy reality every day, every hour, every minute, every tweet.

We are so big, so powerful, so mighty, so strong, so Excellent, so fortunate to be Americans at the apex of our national glory.

We are not a little tiny whining Gollum who sees only evil, fears all others, is ignorant of everything outside of his dark tweeting cave of a hidey hole and afraid to share with others because they will take advantage of him.

Or, are we?

 

 

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