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Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty

Historians say President Trump is a symptom of the anti-establishment turn in global politics, not its cause. Therefore, the populism that has erupted across the U.S. and Europe will go on or die — independent of what happens to him.

But what about the global trade war, which seems to be wholly Trump-driven? Experts tell Axios that it only appears that way: Protectionism, they say, is now part of the populist zeitgeist — and will outlast Trump.

Driving the news: In statements today, Beijing said it will immediately retaliate if Trump proceeds with a vow yesterday to impose tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese imports, bringing the total to $250 billion. The Chinese have said that, if Trump proceeds next week as threatened, it will retaliate with tariffs on some 5,200 types of U.S. imports worth another $60 billion, for a total of $110 billion.

We previously reported that the trade war with China could last a year or longer. Now experts say the war will be larger and endure for an unknown period of time.

  • "My view is that Trump has accelerated and amplified latent anti-trade and anti-globalization populist forces. And I think this represents a systemic break with the past 75 years," says Gary Hufbauer of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. 
  • "Trump’s successor is unlikely to go back to the postwar model of American leadership of the world economic system along liberal free trade and investment lines," says Hufbauer.
  • Edward Alden of the Council on Foreign Relations agrees: "It’s clear we are never going back to the status quo pre-Trump. Congress and the administration are going to need to fundamentally rewrite their relationship on trade, not try to revive the old rules. And the WTO will either need to be refashioned or it will die."

If there’s any chance for a return to the pre-Trump system, it’s this: "[T]he polls suggest that younger American voters are generally quite pro-free trade and see the benefits of globalization," says Alden. "So I think the protectionist moment we are seeing will be shorter rather than longer. But a lot of damage could be done in that short time."

Go deeper

Updated 3 mins ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to actually deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.

Updated 30 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden calls Fox News reporter a "stupid son of a b---h" on hot mic

President Biden blasted Fox News' Peter Doocy on Monday after the reporter asked if the nation's soaring inflation is a political liability, saying, "what a stupid son of a b----h."

The latest: The president called Doocy Monday evening, the reporter told Fox's Sean Hannity. "He cleared the air and I appreciated it. We had a nice call," Doocy said when asked whether the president apologized, adding: "I don't need anyone to apologize to me."

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February.
  2. Vaccines: The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: New York Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Hochul's mask mandate for public areas — Sarah Palin tests positive for COVID, delaying defamation trial — Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker