The Trump and Biden Administrations applied tariffs and technology controls on an unprecedented scale in order to reduce America’s trade deficit, suppress China’s high-tech ambitions, and strangle Russia’s war economy after its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Robert Lighthizer’s No Trade is Free: Changing Course, Taking on China, and Helping America’s Workers and Henry Farrell and Abraham Newman’s Underground Empire: How America Weaponized the World Economy each provide an insider’s account of separate but complementary aspects of this revolution in American policy.

Lighthizer, Donald Trump’s U.S. trade representative, was the main architect of the administration’s trade policy with China as well as North America. Farrell and Newman, professors at Johns Hopkins and Georgetown, respectively, first proposed extraterritorial control of American intellectual property in order to restrict Chinese access to semiconductor know-how. In tandem, their two books provide the best picture we have of the thinking that guided this great shift in American policy.

The authors of these books advocate for policies they helped devise, and the reader will have to look elsewhere for an objective assessment of their effectiveness. Five years after the Trump Administration imposed a 25% tariff on $200 billion of Chinese goods, America’s trade deficit

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