20 October 2017   Leave a comment

The deaths of 4 US soldiers in Niger in an ambush has shown a light on US military operations in Africa.  It is not a topic that I have followed closely, and I must confess that I was surprised when I read that there are over 800 US soldiers and advisers in Niger.  We also know very little about the mission in Niger, but as an investigation proceeds we may be able to find out more substantive information.  After the horrific attack by al-Shabab in Mogadishu, Somalia, in which 358 people died and the ongoing attacks by Boko Haram in Nigeria, there is little question that there are significant security issues in some African countries.  I have tried to find out how many US troops are in Africa right now, but I found huge discrepancies in the estimates offered by different experts.  I did, however, find out that the US Defense Department has created an “Africa Center for Strategic Studies”.  Interestingly, the web site address for the Center is .org and not .gov.  I am not sure what kind of organization it truly is, but it is perhaps a small sign of how interested the US military is in Africa as an important strategic concern.  The US already has a Central Command for its Africa operations.



The negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are reportedly not going well.    US President Trump’s policy of “America First” has led to a number of anti-free trade acts, including the termination of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, tariffs on Canadian airplanes, and restrictions on the importation of solar panels.  Te NAFTA, however, involves two of America’s most important trading partners, Mexico and Canada, and Mr. Trump’s willingness to terminate the Agreement would have serious repercussions.  The most significant issue is on the production and importation rules for automobiles.  According to ETAuto:

“Under NAFTA, at least 62.5 percent of the material in a car or light truck made in the region must be from North America to be able to enter the marketplace tariff-free.

“The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has proposed raising the amount of NAFTA content in autos to 85 percent and securing 50 percent of the total for the United States.”

Mr. Trump’s proposed rule change would likely end the importation of autos produced in Mexico into the US.  It is highly unlikely that those automobile factories would move into the US.  If the NAFTA is terminated, the liberal economic order based on free trade would shift dramatically away from the US, and might perhaps even end.


Smile Time

Posted October 20, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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