Paul Krugman argues that destruction is the end game of President Donald Trump’s trade war and his increasing belligerence to core U.S. allies such as Canada and Germany:
The best hypothesis is that trade war and destruction of alliances aren’t means to an end — they are ends in themselves. Trump isn’t trying to fix the system, he wants to destroy it, and supposed wrongdoing by others is just an excuse. 4/
— Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) July 11, 2018
That’s probably correct (and Krugman’s full thread is well worth reading). It would explain why Trump doesn’t pay much attention to the details of his case for unfair trade rules, or even formulate coherent demands that could be subject to bargaining. The same is true on NATO. Trump continues to botch the longstanding U.S. request that its allies spend more on defense; Trump still (falsely) believes that relatively low spending by NATO partners is tantamount to failure to pay dues and asks when those nations will “reimburse the U.S.” This line of thinking leads him to the nonsense position that America is overspending on the military, even as he brags about spending more and attacks the Democrats for opposing defense expenditures.
All of that would matter a lot if Trump was really trying to negotiate better deals. But his loose grasp of facts, and even his own position, don’t matter at all if all he’s doing is throwing bombs. That means his buffoonery is far more dangerous than many believe. We have to take seriously the possibility that he’s out to undermine the entire postwar order and may just get what he wants.