Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

An audience member motions to the press while listening to President Donald J. Trump speak at the Atlantic Aviation Hanger on March 10, 2018 in Moon Township, Pennsylvania. (Photo: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

"Psychopath's Trade War": Critics Denounce Trump's Reckless Tariffs on Mexico, EU, and Canada

"It simply makes no sense to start a trade war with Canada, the European Union and others who are engaged in fair trade, are not cheating and where workers are paid a living wage with good benefits," argued Sanders

Jon Queally

"His is a psychopath's trade war," writes Columbia University economist Jeffery Sachs in a scathing op-ed condemning as "insane" President Donald Trump's decision this week to slap steel and aluminum export tariffs on the European Union, Mexico, and Canada.

"The US has probably never before had a delusional President, one who speaks gibberish, insults those around him including his closest associates, and baffles the world. By instinct, we strive to make sense of Trump's nonsense, implicitly assuming some hidden strategy. There is none." —Jeffery Sachs, Columbia University

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), in a statement issued late Friday, called the president's move both "haphazard and reckless," decrying the tariffs on top U.S. trading partners and ostensible allies as "an absolute disaster that will cause unnecessary economic pain to farmers, manufacturers and consumers" in his home state of Vermont and nationwide.

"It simply makes no sense to start a trade war with Canada, the European Union and others who are engaged in fair trade, are not cheating and where workers are paid a living wage with good benefits," argued Sanders.

While Moody's and other mainstream analysts are warning that the tariffs will cause clear economic harm in the U.S., the Associated Press reports on individual consumers and small business owners across the country worried about the economic impacts they will now face due to Trump's actions.

In addition to imposing retaliatory tariffs of their own after Trump's announcement of the penalties on Wednesday, both the EU and Canada on Friday filed formal complaints with the World Trade Organization claiming the penalties imposed by the Trump administration are a violation of standing trade agreements. Mexico also responded to the tariffs with new penalties on imports of U.S. goods traveling over the southern U.S. border.

For his part, Sachs characterized Trump's imposition of tariffs as "blatantly illegal," but said there is also something more concerning at play:

Trump's so-called policies are not really policies. Trade wars are on, off, on hold, on again, within the span of days. Summits are on, canceled, or maybe on. Foreign companies are sanctioned today and rescued the next. He says one day he would like to see overseas troops called home soon, and tells them to stay the next. Global agreements and rules are ripped to shreds. Trump's garbled syntax and disorganized thoughts are impossible to follow.

The US has probably never before had a delusional President, one who speaks gibberish, insults those around him including his closest associates, and baffles the world. By instinct, we strive to make sense of Trump's nonsense, implicitly assuming some hidden strategy. There is none.

"Trump creates chaos for no reason other than his own flagrant inability to follow rules or respect the interests of others," Sachs writes. "The result will be to undermine the long-term role of the dollar; ratchet up the public debt; and undermine the current expansion through a spiral of protectionist measures and rising uncertainties for business."

"Instead of imposing piecemeal tariffs on our trading partners, he should comprehensively and fundamentally re-write all of our failed unfettered trade policies to stop the race to the bottom and lift living standards in the U.S. and throughout the world."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders
In an interview with NBC News, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the tariffs are "quite frankly, insulting and unacceptable." And Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU's trade commissioner, declared on Friday that Trump is playing a "dangerous game."

If the goal is to help U.S. workers and bolster the domestic economy, what should Trump being doing instead?

"If Trump were serious about protecting good-paying American jobs he would sign an executive order today to prevent large companies that outsource jobs to low-wage countries from receiving lucrative federal contracts and corporate welfare," recommended Sanders. "Instead of imposing piecemeal tariffs on our trading partners, he should comprehensively and fundamentally re-write all of our failed unfettered trade policies to stop the race to the bottom and lift living standards in the U.S. and throughout the world."

While Sanders said he would support some trade penalties "on countries like China, Russia, South Korea and Vietnam to prevent them from illegally dumping steel and aluminum" onto the global market, the attack on our closest trading partners makes no sense. "American steel and aluminum workers need our help, and they need it now," Sanders acknowledge, "but not at the expense of farmers, workers, small businesses and consumers" throughout the country.

Sachs, however, offered a more direct solution to the current crisis presented by the man who occupies the Oval Office.

"The real answer to Trump's trade (and other) policies is the 25th Amendment," his op-ed argues. "Trump is unwell and unfit to be President. He is a growing threat to the nation and the world."

"The emperor had no clothes," he concludes. "This President has no sense."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

UN Agency Condemns 'Homophobic and Racist' Monkeypox Reporting

"Stigma hurts everyone," says one ranking UNAIDS official. "Shared science and social solidarity help everyone."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Tax the Rich,' Say Millionaire Activists Protesting at Davos Amid Record Wealth, Inequality

"As someone who has enjoyed the benefits of wealth my whole life I know how skewed our economy is and I cannot continue to sit back and wait for someone, somewhere, to do something," said one demonstrator.

Brett Wilkins ·


Rights Group Urges Civilian Safeguards as Biden Sends Troops Back to Somalia

"A culture of impunity for civilian loss breeds resentment and mistrust among the population and undermines efforts to build a more rights-respecting state," Human Rights Watch's regional director asserted.

Brett Wilkins ·


Australian Progressives Hail 'Greenslide' Amid Big Left Wins and Morrison's Ouster

"People have backed the Greens in record numbers and delivered a massive mandate for action on climate and inequality," said party leader Adam Bandt.

Brett Wilkins ·


Omar Leads Charge Against Baby Formula Monopolies Amid US Shortage

Democrats urge the FTC to probe "any unfair or unsustainable practices, like deceptive marketing, price gouging, and stock buybacks, that may be weakening our nutritional formula supply."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo