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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > Apr-18 > Trump’s economic Afghanistan

Trump’s economic Afghanistan

The latest trade tussle is different. The President wants to ramp it up into a war without end

OPINIONS

Trade conflict is recurrent, ubiquitous, and occasionally quite contentious. Yet, for all the political attention given, no major economic problems have arisen as a result of these conflicts in over 70 years—let alone anyone resorting to military force to settle them.

The Trump administration’s trade threats and tariff actions to date, however, are the most dangerous measures since the United States and its allies set up the international economic system in the 1940s. Several factors distinguish a trade war from mere friction. Governments start viewing trade as a conflict between nations, rather than a beneficial process to manage. They assume that bullying is preferable to multilateral rules. They put a premium on doing damage rather than deterring bad behaviour. Ultimately, they break down the separation between commerce and national security, raising the risk of significant escalation of conflict.

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In Prospect's April issue: Four writers explain how our relationship with death has changed in as technological and medical advances have been made in recent years. Joanna Bourke explores how modern life is now able to live on through social media sites, Cathy Rentzenbrink explains how (referring to the case of her own brother) a “twilight zone,” in which someone is neither alive nor dead, has been created through medical advances. Michael Marmot argues that we are experiencing a change in regards to our life expectancy—over the course of a series of decades we have seen life expectancy increase, but what do recent decreases actually mean. Meanwhile, Philip Ball writes about his participation in an experiment to create a second brain from his own flesh. Elsewhere in the issues: Jane Kinninmont questions whether the Saudi Crown Price, Mohammed bin Salman, really knows what he’s doing, Daniel Howden charts how European attitudes to migrants might be changing and Jay Elwes asks: Does a Cornish mine hold the answer to questions about the UK’s green future?