Incoming President Donald Trump has announced a bold new strategy in the War on ISIS.* Speaking to reporters after a recent visit to Capitol Hill, Trump said that the war needs to be waged on two fronts, military and economic, and called for a “reverse blockade” against the terror group.
Like many things Trump has proposed, the policy goes against the conventional wisdom. Most scholars believe that reducing a country’s access to international trade makes their economy and their country weaker–this is why one common tactic employed in wars throughout history has been a blockade. The explicit goal of the tactic is to cut a foreign adversary off from international trade. According to theory, the reason this works is because newly isolated countries have to divert resources into producing goods that their former trading partners can produce more efficiently, or they may lose access to some goods altogether.
For instance, the US is one of the most efficient and effective producers of commercial airplanes. So when Iran received international sanctions (a diplomatic method of cutting off trade), the Iranians would have to either invest heavily in their domestic aerospace companies (removing investment from other industries) or go without getting new and safer planes. Either way, the wealth and standard of living of the isolated country goes down, or so the thinking goes.
Trump’s new policy promises to turn this reasoning on its head, suggesting that it is really access to international trade that harms a nation’s economy, not a lack of access to trade. This suggestion is actually consistent with many of Trump’s comments on the US economy. Trump favors an increase in protectionist policies for the US to reduce international trade and thereby “Make America Great Again.” So it follows quite naturally that he would want to maximize trade with the US’s enemies, including as it turns out, terror groups in the Middle East.
In his remarks, Trump noted that ISIS is uniquely positioned to have a thriving domestic economy. Trump highlighted the fact that ISIS controls territory that is fully landlocked and has committed sufficiently voluminous war crimes that no nearby countries are willing to trade with them on a regular basis anymore–not even Saudi Arabia or Israel. As a result, domestic businesses in ISIS territory do not have to compete with any destructive foreign competition and are thriving, according to Trump’s remarks.
The Daily Face Palm was able to get in touch with one independent journalist operating in ISIS territory to get a local take on the terror group’s economy. Granted anonymity for obvious reasons, our source confirmed business and employment were booming. “There’s an almost endless amount of work to be done here–because we have to make almost everything we have from scratch.”
Indeed, ISIS apparently doesn’t even attempt to track statistics on employment because it’s obvious that the unemployment rate is effectively 0%, even when preteens are included in the definition of the labor force. Inflation is also admirably high, well above the 2% marker targeted by Federal Reserve.
(Editor’s note: Our source in ISIS territory also wanted our readers to know that his positive reporting on the ISIS economy was entirely objective and voluntary and had nothing whatsoever to do with ISIS’s reputation for summarily murdering dissenters.)
The economic experience cited above suggest that Trump may be on to something with his protectionist plans. After all, developed countries like the US haven’t been able to consistently achieve ultra-low unemployment and greater than 2% inflation in recent years, even though they have vastly more Ivy League economists dedicated to the challenge. Perhaps protectionism was the key all along?
Whatever the future holds for the US economy under Trump, it’s clear that ISIS’s days as an isolated economy are now numbered. Throughout the presidential campaign, Trump often claimed that China was “killing” the US by flooding the market with cheap and inexpensive goods that domestic manufacturers couldn’t compete with. Now, Trump wants to give that same treatment to ISIS.
“We’re going to bomb the shit out of them, and we’re going to trade the shit out of them,” he said, referring to ISIS. “Their standard of living is going to go up so fast that they won’t know what hit them.”
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who also made a name for himself this campaign season for criticizing international trade, was quick to express solidarity with Trump’s latest proposal. “It is completely unacceptable that the working men and women of this country get a raw deal while even the captive population in ISIS can reap the rewards of a sensible trade policy,” he said, adding that he “looked forward to working President Trump on the issue.”
It appears that not everyone is on board the Trump Train for this gambit, however. We reached out to Dr. Steve Barton, an economist at the libertarian Cato Institute. When asked for a reaction to Trump’s plan, Dr. Barton asserted that President Trump must be “out of his goddamn mind.”
*Note that the story above–sources and quotations it includes–are entirely fictional. The economic analysis presented as to why cutting off trade tends to be harmful is genuine, however.