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An ill-advised trade war could turn out to be Trump’s Afghanistan

Costly, fruitless and open-ended, Trump could be starting something he won't be able to finish

By Adam Posen   April 2018

Donald Trump (pictured) could be launching a costly, open-ended trade war. Photo: PA

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…

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