Trade war? There are no guarantees

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Global economic diplomacy can't be done with seat-of-the-pants blather.

HELMUTH VON MOLTKE, a 19th century Prussian military man, is credited with what has become a famous quote: "No battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy."

President Trump might want to ponder that point as he starts slapping tariffs on goods and risks kicking off an international trade war.

Or maybe he has pondered it and come up with his own answer. A Friday Trump tweet contained these words: "... trade wars are good, and easy to win."

If so, that's news to pretty much every professional economist, not to mention heads of state for America's trading partners all across the globe, who we're sure have no intention of laying down and prostrating their nations before Trump.

THAT'S NOT TO SAY the United States shouldn't try to negotiate better deals where international trading relationships appear outside reasonable balance and are potentially harmful to American companies and workers.

But there's a wide chasm between proposing and pursuing productive negotiations and off-the-cuff declaring stiff tariffs against other countries.

World markets immediately nosedived following Trump's impetuous, stream-of-consciousness stand. Some world leaders reacted stiffly. Others blew a gasket.

One thing the economy - here or anywhere else - thoroughly disdains is chaos and uncertainty. Unfortunately, the man in the White House specializes in chaos and uncertainty.

Sowing discord within the economic climate carries consequences for America and, for that matter, the world. Seat-of-the-pants tweeting may be relatively harmless, even sometimes humorous - think: Crooked Hillary, or Low Energy Jeb - but when applied to global economic relations, there's nothing funny about it.

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