Cordelia Jenkins: Announcing his proposed tariffs on steel and aluminium, Donald Trump was fixated on separating America’s “real friends” from its fake friends. “We are going to see who’s treating us fairly, who’s not treating us fairly,” he warned. Steel dumping was not simply hurting the economy, it was a threat to the nation, he insisted. The tariffs, therefore, were “vital to our national security, absolutely vital”.
His argument is nothing more than a cover for US protectionism, says Rana Foroohar in her latest column. But, while the world watches anxiously for its effects on the global trading system, a more worrying form of protectionism is threatening innovation in Silicon Valley. The trade war the US should fear is not in physical commodities but in technology, Rana says.
She predicts that an ongoing US investigation into China’s theft of intellectual property will result in stricter barriers on Chinese investment in American data and IT. That could hurt companies such as Tencent or result in new tariffs on a wider variety of Chinese products or even new visa rules for Chinese immigrants. But there are better ways to protect American competitiveness, she argues.
Italian risk: Wolfgang Münchau is relieved to note that the referendum on Italy’s eurozone membership proposed by the Five Star Movement is off the table. But, he says, there are three ways in which the next Italian government could still cause trouble: by derailing talks on eurozone reform, a fiscal overshoot at home, or by making ominous noises about creating a parallel currency.
Failing the front line: Margaret Heffernan argues that the UK university lecturers strike is a textbook case of bad leadership by university heads. In successful businesses, smart managers do not deliberately alienate their front-line workers, she says. Lecturers, tutors and researchers are the names and faces of these institutions, and the students know their worth. That is why they are siding with their teachers.
Dodging bullets: Donald Trump is correct to try diplomacy with Kim Jong Un, writes Nicholas Burns. The US and North Korea were on a collision course to a war, which might have also drawn in China. But the devil will be in the details. The former undersecretary of state argues that the US president must acknowledge the strength of Mr Kim’s position, North Korea’s considerable nuclear arsenal and Washington’s very thin bench of Korea and East Asia experts, before he chooses a diplomatic path.