Cartoon by Kevin Siers
Trump’s Blasts Upend G-7, Alienating Oldest Allies
By Peter Baker and Michael D. Shear
The New York Times: Shortly before leaving the annual meeting of major world powers on Saturday, President Trump boasted that it had been “tremendously successful” and that on a scale of 0 to 10, “the relationship is a 10.”
Fewer than nine hours later, the relationship was plummeting toward a zero. With a petulant tweetstorm from Air Force One, Mr. Trump all but blew up the Group of 7 nations that the United States has led for more than four decades and essentially declared open political war on America’s closest neighbor.
Whatever hopes that other leaders had of pacifying Mr. Trump and papering over their widening differences on trade, security and the world order vanished in a flurry of harsh recriminations. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada rebuffed Mr. Trump’s positions in public comments, prompting Mr. Trump to refuse to sign the carefully crafted final communiqué.
The blowup left the United States alienated from its allies even more than it had been entering into the summit meeting and came as Mr. Trump flew to Singapore, earlier than originally scheduled, for a risky meeting with a nuclear-armed American enemy, Kim Jong-un, the repressive leader of North Korea.
“Trump is readier to give a pass to countries that pose a real threat to Western values and security than to America’s traditional allies,” said Peter Westmacott, a former British ambassador to Washington. “If there is a ‘method to the madness,’ to use the words of British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, it is currently well hidden.”
During his two days in Canada, Mr. Trump and his counterparts from the Group of 7 shook hands, mugged for the cameras and pretended they were friends. White House officials insisted the encounters were congenial. Negotiators struggled to come up with a compromise statement that all seven powers could agree to and, in a burst of relief, released it Saturday night.
But as the bruising aftermath made clear, the divide, for the moment at least, cannot be bridged by clever diplomacy and cordial talking points. Mr. Trump’s view of the world, and his country’s oldest and most important partners, is so infused by suspicion and grievance that he could not resist his pugilistic impulses even for a day.
Mr. Trump’s unvarnished post-summit Twitter insults aimed at Mr. Trudeau — “weak & dishonest,” “false statements,” “meek and mild” — left the Canadian-American relationship at its most overtly hostile since, perhaps, the War of 1812. Indeed, Mr. Trump had already clashed with Canada before the summit meeting by reportedly accusing it of burning down the White House during that war (it was really the British).
Mr. Trump seems unbothered by the ostracism, making the case that America has allowed itself for too many years to be pushed around by foreign powers that took advantage of it. In some ways, he wears the criticism from abroad as a badge of honor, proof that he is representing the best interests of the United States. Supporters cheer his aggressive posture on the world stage.
Mr. Trump had already made clear before the Group of 7 summit that he had no intention of reconsidering his position on climate change or Iran. And he refused to ease steel and aluminum tariffs he just imposed on Europe and Canada, arguing that the allies have been dealing with the United States unfairly.
“There are disagreements,” Larry Kudlow, the director of Mr. Trump’s National Economic Council, conceded at one point during the summit meeting. “My view? We can get through this.”
No one got through it this weekend, however. Mr. Trump signaled his disdain for the Group of 7 meeting by arriving late and leaving early. During closed-door meetings on Friday, he went around the room, citing ways each of the other nations represented there had mistreated the United States in some fashion or another, according to a European official.
Just hours before Mr. Trump’s outburst, a senior administration official said the meetings had been less contentious than depicted and that the session with Mr. Trudeau in particular had been much better than anticipated. The official, who insisted on anonymity to describe closed-door discussions, predicted the United States would sign the final communiqué.
But Mr. Trump, while en route to Singapore, evidently watched or was briefed on a news conference Mr. Trudeau held afterward and was offended by the Canadian’s defense of his country’s trade policies.
Even before then, Mr. Trump had left himself the outlier in the annual session. By departing before the end, he skipped sessions about climate change, oceans and clean energy — ceding not only America’s leadership on those topics, but also its very seat at the table >>>