More than twenty years ago, one of Madrid's weekly news magazines ran a story with a picture of President Bill Clinton in a bomber jacket and his menacing index finger as he was reportedly telling the Japanese Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa "if you don't buy, you won't sell."
Over a typical mid-afternoon Spanish lunch, the editor gave me a copy of his magazine, hot off the presses, a day after we talked at length about the economy, the Clinton-Hosokawa summit in September 1993 and America's intractable trade problems with its key Asian ally.
You don't have to believe in (Nietzsche's concept of) "eternal recurrence," but here we are: After 24 years, we are back with the same play as different actors feel compelled to tackle recurring rounds of American-Japanese trade imbalances.
There is one difference, though – and please give credit to our hard working, 24/7 president: He greeted warmly his Japanese guest instead of pointing at him Bill's trademark threatening finger. And never mind that suave gestures of bonhomie are at odds with the stiff Japanese etiquette.
In the run-up to the Trump-Abe summit, the clever Japanese were tirelessly repeating that America's trade deficit with Japan was much smaller now and less of policy issue than before.