The Trump Administration's decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum drove global online interest in protectionism last week. The White House has threatened protectionist actions before and has already slapped levies on solar panels and washing machines.
But this latest salvo is being received as a severe escalation. On March 2, the day after the steel and aluminum tariffs were announced, views of the English-language Wikipedia page for “Trade War” were the most in the page's history. By contrast, past Trump trade threats and measures barely registered. This time, online observers appear to consider the White House's policy an act of trade war.