(Two pieces. Follow the links embedded in the headlines for the full columns.)

Trump’s trade wars risk global economic disaster (Aug. 26): With President Trump threatening large-scale trade wars against multiple trading partners simultaneously, it’s time to explain, in terms of cause and effect, just why trade wars are terrible for the United States and world economies. With such threats, Trump risks plunging the whole world into a depression.

The entire global economy is integrated. With modern communications and rapid transport options, it cannot be otherwise. Goods and services, both raw materials and manufactured, flow across borders and become essential components of other goods and services, in an almost seamless web. The United States can no more be both self-sustaining and economically vibrant than it can fly its entire territory to the moon.

Wealth is created as economic activity increases, and is destroyed as activity decreases. Trump seems to believe in an 19th Century mercantilist system. But economics is not a zero sum game. For one nation to “win,” it is not necessary for another to “lose.” If the pace of activity speeds up, everybody wins. If it slows, everybody loses….

Gen. Mattis shoots, quite effectively, across Trump’s bow (Aug. 28): A few key sentences from a Wall Street Journal piece by Gen. Jim Mattis, the former secretary of defense, serve as a not-so-veiled, but oh-so-important, warning to and about President Trump.

If Trump won’t listen, the rest of us should both listen and act responsibly to find a reasonable alternative to reelecting this president.

Mattis’ essay, an adapted excerpt from a forthcoming book, makes an impassioned case against unilateralism of the sort Trump practices.

“Nations with allies thrive, and those without them wither,” Mattis writes. “Alone, America cannot protect our people and our economy. At this time, we can see storm clouds gathering. … A leader must display strategic acumen that incorporates respect for those nations that have stood with us when trouble loomed. Returning to a strategic stance that includes the interests of as many nations as we can make common cause with, we can better deal with this imperfect world we occupy together. Absent this, we will occupy an increasingly lonely position, one that puts us at increasing risk.”…


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