Peter Navarro: My jour­ney to Trum­p­land

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - INSIGHT - By Peter Navarro Peter Navarro is a busi­ness pro­fes­sor at UC Irvine and the au­thor of 13 books. His on­line eco­nom­ics cour­ses have reached more than a half mil­lion stu­dents in al­most 200 coun­tries. To com­ment, sub­mit your let­ter to the edi­tor at http://bi

As a se­nior pol­icy ad­viser to Don­ald Trump, I get more ques­tions about whether I’m of­fended by the lat­est re­marks of the can­di­date than I re­ceive about the econ­omy, trade or na­tional se­cu­rity. I’m also asked how some­one who would fit right in any­where in San Fran­cisco or Sil­i­con Val­ley — reg­is­tered Demo­crat, Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia pro­fes­sor, Har­vard Ph.D., gay rights sup­porter, strong en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist — can pos­si­bly be sup­port­ing Trump?

My jour­ney to Trum­p­land be­gan at the UC Irvine busi­ness school. Around 2004, I be­gan to no­tice many of my MBA stu­dents, who were en­rolled in our night and week­end pro­grams for the “fully em­ployed,” were los­ing their jobs. I wanted to know why, and all roads quickly pointed to China.

In 2001, China joined the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion and im­me­di­ately be­gan flood­ing Amer­i­can mar­kets with its ex­ports. Many of Amer­ica’s multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions — in­clud­ing those in Orange County — also be­gan mov­ing fa­cil­i­ties to China.

While my re­search con­firmed cheap la­bor was a fac­tor driv­ing the Made-in-China boom, I also un­cov­ered the wide­spread use of sweat­shops and pol­lu­tion havens — nei­ther of which are banned by WTO rules. I also dis­cov­ered China’s real com­pet­i­tive edge was driven by a set of un­fair trade prac­tices — from il­le­gal ex­ports sub­si­dies and cur­rency ma­nip­u­la­tion to in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty theft.

My world would in­ter­sect with Trump af­ter I wrote my first book on China, “The Com­ing China Wars.” Trump put this trea­tise on China’s cheat­ing on his Top 10 list.

I be­gan a cor­re­spon­dence with him, and he was kind enough to pro­vide tes­ti­mo­ni­als for my fol­low-up book and film, “Death by China,” and my most re­cent book about the rise of China’s mil­i­tary, “Crouch­ing Tiger.” From these in­ter­ac­tions, I learned Trump clearly gets it on the trade is­sue.

To Trump, while free trade is good, it must also be fair trade. Other­wise, we will get what we have got­ten — a mas­sive ero­sion of the U.S. man­u­fac­tur­ing base, stag­nant wages for the last 15 years, and more than 20 mil­lion Amer­i­cans who can’t find a good job at a de­cent wage.

What of­fends me here is not that Trump wants to rene­go­ti­ate bad trade deals such as NAFTA or that Trump wants to slap a 45 per­cent tar­iff on China if it re­fuses to stop its wide­spread and per­va­sive cheat­ing. These are ex­actly the right poli­cies.

What of­fends me is that Hil­lary and Bill Clin­ton have had their hands in ev­ery bad trade deal the United States has signed. In 1993, first lady Hil­lary Clin­ton was an “ar­dent ad­vo­cate” for the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment and Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton signed it, promis­ing us 200,000 jobs. Ac­cord­ing to the Eco­nomic Pol­icy In­sti­tute, we’ve lost more than 850,000 jobs.

In 2000, lame-duck Pres­i­dent Clin­ton and a Repub­li­can Congress worked hand-in-glove to grant China per­ma­nent nor­mal trade re­la­tions sta­tus. This paved the way for China’s 2001 en­try into the WTO — ar­guable the most de­struc­tive trade event in U.S. his­tory.

Mean­while, in 2012, Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton promised us 70,000 new jobs for her South Korea trade pact and to date, we’ve lost 75,000 jobs and seen our trade deficit with South Korea dou­ble — with our auto in­dus­try the hard­est hit.

Be­yond trade, I share Trump’s for­eign pol­icy an­tipa­thy to­ward us­ing our mil­i­tary to bring about “regime change” or to “na­tion build.” What of­fends me here is Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush in­vad­ing Iraq un­der false pre­tenses — and the re­sul­tant loss in both blood and trea­sure. Trump op­posed that war, U.S. Sen. Hil­lary Clin­ton voted for it.

What of­fends me, too, is when Sec­re­tary of State Clin­ton ex­pends more than $5 bil­lion of tax­payer money to top­ple Moam­mar Khadafy in Libya and winds up turn­ing the coun­try over to the Is­lamic State in the re­sul­tant power vac­uum — or when Pres­i­dent Obama draws a red line in Syria over the use of chem­i­cal weapons and then does noth­ing when such weapons are used. Be­cause of such in­ept for­eign-pol­icy de­ci­sions, I was cer­tainly not of­fended when Trump re­ferred to Clin­ton and Obama as the founders of the Is­lamic State. True that — at least in a fig­u­ra­tive sense.

Of course, you might won­der whether I’m of­fended by Trump’s call for a tem­po­rary ban on Mus­lim im­mi­gra­tion. I would if U.S. State Depart­ment vet­ting pro­ce­dures could pre­vent Is­lamic ex­trem­ists from slip­ping into our coun­try dis­guised as refugees. But that’s clearly not the case.

Trump speaks in a lan­guage that talks di­rectly to the Amer­i­can peo­ple — crude though it may be to some. The far greater of­fense lies in Hil­lary Clin­ton’s con­stant short-cir­cuit­ing of the truth and her mon­u­men­tal eth­i­cal lapses.

She has lied about her de­struc­tion of thou­sands of emails, lied to the fam­i­lies of the diplo­mats killed in Beng­hazi, mis­treated Mon­ica Lewin­sky and other of Bill Clin­ton’s “fallen women,” and tried to scape­goat for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Colin Pow­ell for her own mis­han­dling of clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion.

She has also racked up ob­scene speak­ing fees that she failed to prop­erly dis­close, and, ac­cord­ing to Ju­di­cial Watch and oth­ers, ap­pears to have used the State Depart­ment as a fa­vor dis­penser to raise hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars from for­eign gov­ern­ments and cor­po­rate in­ter­ests for her cam­paigns and the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion. That’s ex­actly why a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor is now war­ranted.

For all these rea­sons, I’m a Trump Demo­crat — aban­doned by my party on trade and na­tional se­cu­rity and ap­palled at the prospect that some­one as cor­rupt and un­trust­wor­thy as Hil­lary Clin­ton might as­cend to the Oval Of­fice. In the end, the vot­ers will de­cide; and the only thing cer­tain I will con­tinue to be of­fended by is ev­ery time your Gi­ants beat my Dodgers.


Po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist Ian Brem­mer (left) ap­pears on CNN with Peter Navarro, Don­ald Trump’s se­nior pol­icy ad­viser, at the Repub­li­can Na­tional Con­ven­tion.

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