If Donald Trump gets the Singapore summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un as wrong as he just got the G6+1 meeting in Canada – the US is going to get taken to the cleaners, bigly. Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul put it in these terms:
Trump, as has been reported, slunk out of the meetings in Charlevoix, Quebec, pouting and grumbling that the other national leaders did not dance to his tune the way the GOP Congress has for the past 19 months. In the process, Trump made a number of characteristically uninformed and embarrassing statements and tweets that were immediately fact checked.
The Globe and Mail editorial board described Trump’s barrage before, during and after the summit as –
“one of the most flagrant manufactured crises ever perpetrated by an American administration against an ally.”
At this point, observers of Trump’s style of communication would only be surprised if Trump got the facts right, even by pure accident. In the case of Trump’s narrative about the trade that has been transacted between the United States and its global partners, only the hardest of hard core apologists for Trump’s fact challenged trade tantrums would venture to construct a defense.
The Trump and Trudeau Show
Trump was especially piqued by the host of the meetings, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Of Trudeau, Trump petulantly tweeted:
Notice something interesting here. Trump frames this whole encounter with Trudeau on the basis of a confrontation between two antagonistic elementary school children – not on the basis of national leaders. It has all the flavor of “say it to my face” – and “I’ll see you at the bike rack, after school!”
The words “dishonest and weak”, are certainly among the two most apropos words in English to describe Trump’s character and conduct. Amusing that he would project those character deficits outward in anyone else’s direction, but he constantly does.
Trump’s entourage of ignorant thugs posing as a contingent of trade negotiators, also reflected their bosses’ indecent demeanor, spouting such un-professional hyperventilations as that of Trump trade advisor Peter Navarro, saying, “There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door.”
Trump economic stuntman, Larry Kudlow, chimed in with, “He really kind of stabbed us in the back.” Not long after that, the purpose behind this filthy and inflammatory invective was disclosed. Kudlow told one of the Sunday shows that the other leaders at the summit should have taken Trump’s insults and bullying without complaint, because Trump needed moral support going into the meetings with Kim Jong-un. “They should have said to him, ‘God speed, you are negotiating with the crazy nuclear tyrant in North Korea, and we are behind you.'”
From Russia With Love
This sort of conduct unbecoming, adds to the ledger of adversarial relations with America’s allies, but Trump had more. Trump, in what administration insiders are claiming was an unscripted, ad lib statement, functioned as an ad hoc Russian diplomatic attaché . Trump petitioned the other world leaders to allow Russian president Vladimir Putin back in the global summit group.
“Why are we having a meeting without Russia in the meeting. They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”
And during the summit, Trump continued;
“I think it would be an asset to have Russia back in. I think it would be good for the world. I think it would be good for Russia. I think it would be good the United States. I think it would be good for all of the countries of the current G7. I think the G8 would be better.”
It’s virtually impossible to imagine that Trump’s handlers would have ever signed off on his advocacy of Russia’s re-entry into the sphere of states that are warily keeping a nation that is subverting democracy at arm’s length.
Europe has made Russia’s return, conditional to a set of policy changes outlined in a directive to Moscow, called the Minsk Agreements and Russia has not only not come to the table on them, but has engaged to a greater degree in the actions that led to the breach.
Then, there is the signal it sends that Trump has always been a partner to Russia’s foreign policy machinations, something that Trump has denied at every turn.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), summed up his disapproval, saying, “The President has inexplicably shown our adversaries the deference and esteem that should be reserved for our closest allies.”
Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse added:
“Putin is not our friend and he is not the President’s buddy. He is a thug using Soviet-style aggression to wage a shadow war against America, and our leaders should act like it.”
Amusingly, even Moscow seemed to lack enthusiasm for Trump’s bold proposal. “Russia is focused on other formats, apart from the G7,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a brief statement reported by the government-controlled Sputnik news agency.
It’s Obama’s Fault
Trump wasn’t finished on the Russia topic, however. He has developed a knack of musing on the many ways a man of his demonstrated courage, could insert that instinctive bravery into events that already took place.
As you will recall, Trump speculated that had he been in Parkland, Florida the day of the Stoneman-Douglas High School shooting, he would have charged in and confronted the shooter – armed or not armed. Similarly, in placing the blame on former president Barack Obama, for Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Trump professed this empty boast, void of specifics, “Obama can say all he wants, but he allowed Russia to take Crimea. I may have had a much different attitude.”
He’s a hard charger, this president, known to some by the handle, “Commander Bone Spurs”.
As to Trump’s ongoing estrangement with the world of facts, he continued to provide fact checkers with silos full of fodder. Trump made wild, accusatory statements against both Canada and other trading partners, including the European allies at the summit. “We’re like the piggy bank that everybody’s robbing and that ends.”
Aside from the fact that there is a solid case to be made that the president is using the White House and the presidency as his own piggy bank and that needs to end, Trump’s claims about lopsided trade conditions, just don’t meet the sniff test.
Suppose you were to learn that instead of having a trade deficit with Canada, the US actually has a trade surplus with Canada. According to the president’s own Bureau of Economic Analysis’ figures, the US had a $2.8 billion trade surplus with Canada last year. It also had surpluses with Canada in 2015 and 2016.
Trump ascribed specific motives to the participants in the summit, “You want a tariff free. You want no barriers. And you want no subsidies. Because you have some cases where countries are subsidizing industries and that’s not fair.” Trump conveniently ignores the fact that while the United States maintains a significant trade surplus in agricultural products, America leads the way in farm subsidies on such cash crops as soy, wheat, corn, rice and cotton – to the tune of $20 billion annually.
Fix the Check Engine light – don’t put the car out of commission…
So, according to Trump’s view here, the United States is engaged in “unfair” trade practices. As to our situation with the European Union, Trump is prepared to blow up billions of dollars worth of trade, for – are you sitting comfortably? – a whopping net difference in tariffs of … .06 percent. Yes, Europe is putting six tenths of a whole penny in their piggy bank for every dollar’s worth of trade going back and forth between the two parties.
What Trump voters are essentially doing here, is seeing the “check engine” light flash on their dashboard indicators and then deciding to take the car to the one mechanic who doesn’t have the beginnings of a clue of how to work on cars. All the car needs is the oxygen sensor removed and replaced. Trump wants to yank the engine and the transmission out of the car, with no replacement available.
Trump is now in Singapore for the dress rehearsal for that Nobel Peace Prize he is eying so lustily. As in every deal Trump gets involved in, someone must lose in order for him to win.
The loser won’t be North Korea and also won’t be Trump, so that leaves just – fill your name in here ____________.