This week the world got an object lesson in how Donald Trump deals with his trading partners. He will build a wall between the United States and Mexico and lie about who will pay for it. Trump doesn't know much. If he knew any history, he would remember the Maginot Line -- a wall which France built after World War I along its German border to keep German troops out. When World War II began, the Germans simply flew over the wall.
The Mexicans will find a way over or under the wall. It's a 14th Century solution to a 21st Century problem. Justin Trudeau assumes that Donald Trump lives in the 21st Century, where rational analysis wins the day. Tom Walkom writes:
Still, the Trudeau government remains resolutely upbeat. It points out that Canada is the top export market for 35 American states. Its officials talk knowledgeably about supply chains and the economics of continental integration.The Trudeau ministry was cheered when Stephen Schwartzman, the head of a business group advising Trump, showed up this week at their Calgary cabinet retreat to praise Canada.
But civil libertarians were equally cheered this month when four senior Trump appointees, including CIA Director Mike Pompeo, said they opposed torture. That didn’t stop Trump from raising this particular idea again.Some 23 American states export $1 billion each to Mexico each year under NAFTA. Yet that has not moderated Trump’s views. I’m not sure why the Canadian government thinks its facts and figures will be any more successful.At a Republican congressional retreat yesterday, Trump said he wants to replace multilateral trade agreements with one-on-one deals. Does that formula apply to NAFTA? Does he want to replace it with separate Canada-U.S. and Mexico-U.S. pacts? He didn’t say.When his negotiators eventually start talking to Canada what will they want? He didn’t address that either.
Trump has a chaotic mind and an impulsive personality. Walkom warns that Trudeau should be prepared to walk away from whatever Trump demands. History offers another lesson. When you're dealing with Caligula, rational analysis doesn't work.