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Monday, June 11, 2018

Will Trump declare war on Canada next?

Just when we thought things couldn't get any more messed up on the international stage, the US President throws a hissy-fit, attacks all his allies and then jets off for a cosy tête à tête with his sworn enemy.

The world is clearly a much more dangerous place when the leader of its most powerful nation continues to act like a petulant child who insists on getting his own way. And whilst I wish Trump every success in disarming the Korean peninsula, I wonder what it is he thinks he is going to achieve by imposing trade tariffs on goods exported by America's friends whilst seeking to insist that they do not have the right to retaliate? Does he even understand that these tariffs will damage the American economy and cost him jobs?

It is not just the actions of an-out-of-control President that cause concern but the way that his senior advisors, who should know better, back him up with very undiplomatic language.

The Guardian has a good example of this when it quotes Donald’s Trump’s chief economic adviser as saying that the US pulled out of a G7 communique because the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, “stabbed us in the back”. He accused the leader of one America’s most important allies of playing a “sophomoric political stunt for domestic consumption”.

In fact, as I understand it Trudeau's press conference briefing was just repeating what he had already told Trump in private, that Canada does not accept the US demand for a sunset clause in the North American trade agreement, Nafta, that Trump has at different times pressed to abolish or renegotiate. Trudeau also said Canada would “move forward with retaliatory measures” in response to the Trump administration’s move to impose tariffs on aluminium and steel imports from the European Union, Mexico and Canada.

Why would Trump expect anything else? Is the master of the deal losing his touch, when he cannot get even his own allies to agree with him? Will we now see calls for a wall along the Canadian border as well?

This may play well in the rustbelts of America but all Trump has succeeded in doing is to isolate the USA from the rest of the free World, effectively abdicating his position as the pre-eminent leader of that grouping.

There is a West Wing episode in Season Six (Episode 17) where a crisis blows up as a result of a border incursion by some Canadians. During that episode, the Deputy National Security Advisor, Kate Harper reveals the existence of a fictional secret plan to invade Canada:

Kate: [to the Canadian ambassador] Ambassador, listen carefully. An hour ago I reviewed the United States' contingency plan to invade your country.

Will: Uh...there's a contingency plan...

Kate: 1789, amended in 1815, the calligraphy is beautiful. And if one more "deal" is floated in this room, I'm gonna ask DOD to reactivate it. [walks out]

Thank goodness Trump only watches Fox News and wouldn't dream of immersing himself in such liberal nonsense as The West Wing. If he did happen to see the episode I imagine he would be tasking his aides to find that plan and to initiate it. That is the world we now find ourselves living in.
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