The United States and President Donald Trump were again at the top of the headlines last week. As opposed to the past, this time, much of the coverage of Mr. Trump’s moves was positive.
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On President Trump’s order, the U.S. Navy launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian military airfield in response to a chemical weapons attack allegedly committed by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Idlib province. Although it is not yet fully clear how the attack occurred and who is to blame, the swift reaction showed the U.S.’s determination not to tolerate any use of chemical weapons. It was a powerful statement, even if it turns out that President Assad was not behind the attack.
Compelled to act
Compared to the large swell of support President Trump received domestically and internationally, the geopolitical and strategic downside of the strike is small: It merely adds to Russia’s list of the West’s illegitimate attacks on sovereign nations. In response to the missile strike, Russia suspended an airspace safety memorandum for Syria that it had signed with the U.S. in October 2015, which was not too important.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley presented a convincing argument that the Syrian government was responsible for the attacks. But because the UN, as usual, proved unable to act, the U.S. felt compelled to do so on its own.
It seems that the many gloom and doom forecasts made after the election may not come to pass
Later, President Trump held his first summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida. According to reports, the leaders discussed the countries’ most sensitive areas of disagreement, namely trade, the South China Sea and North Korea. It appears, at least on the surface, that there is a readiness for more talks on these issues. Also, China invited the U.S. to participate in its huge One Belt, One Road infrastructure project, a gesture which might be significant, but could also be a simple diplomatic show of goodwill.
The Trump administration’s biggest accomplishment of the month was the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. Appointments to the court are among U.S. presidents’ most important long-term achievements. With this nomination – and there might be another during President Trump’s term – a conservative majority on the Court could be solidified for many years. Mr. Gorsuch is an excellent judge and highly respected throughout the legal community.
Though it grabbed less attention, there was another bit of important information that came out about the Trump administration’s plans. It has long said that its policy is to reduce the regulatory burdens on business, while maintaining robust systems. The banking sector, especially, suffers from overregulation. From the 1930s to the 1990s, the U.S. had the so-called Glass-Steagall Act, which separated retail banking from investment banking, to avoid conflicts of interest. Along with the U.S. Federal Reserve’s cheap-money policy, the Clinton-era repeal of the legislation may have been among the institutional causes of the 2008 banking crisis.
It now appears that the Trump administration is considering reinstating the separation of retail and investment banking. Such a move could provide a lot of clarity and could make a lot of regulations and supervision obsolete. It could be an excellent move.
With these positive developments, it seems that the many gloom and doom forecasts made after the 2016 U.S. presidential election may not come to pass. Let’s hope that is the case.