Tuesday, May 30, 2017

It's Not Easy

Justin Trudeau faces Trumpian pressure on the NAFTA file. But, Tom Walkom writes, he also faces pressure because Canada is a member of NATO. That pressure is not just about ponying up more money. It's about once again sending troops to Afghanistan:

The problem facing the NATO-led force is that it is losing. The Taliban poses a significant threat in at least 40 per cent of the country. The Afghan army on its own has been unable to defeat the insurgents.

Added to this is the growing presence in Afghanistan of the terrorist group Daesh, also known as the Islamic State.

To meet these problems, the American general in charge of the NATO-led forces wants Washington to send between 3,000 and 5,000 additional military “advisers.” The Trump White House is said to be split over the request. No matter how this is sorted out, Trump wants other NATO members to share any pain.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary-general, said Thursday that a decision on the exact number of troops to be deployed by the alliance will be made later this year.

Oddly enough, Trudeau’s rhetoric on NATO may make it more difficult for Canada to avoid contributing troops to any expanded Afghan mission.

Faced with a U.S. president determined to have other NATO members spend more on defence, Trudeau has argued eloquently that money isn’t everything.

Dealing with Trump -- Angela Merkel will confirm this -- is a Herculean challenge:

Behind all of this is the spectre of the upcoming North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation.

The Trudeau government is fixated on keeping the trade pact linking Canada, the U.S. and Mexico intact. Ottawa looks at everything, including defence, through a NAFTA lens.

The government strategy to date has been threefold. First, it is waging a public relations blitz to convince American lawmakers that it is in their own national interest to keep NAFTA more or less as is.

Second, it is waging a charm offensive to convince Trump that Trudeau is his, and America’s, best friend.

Third, it is hinting — more in sorrow than in anger — that, if forced, Canada can engage in trade practices of its own to make life difficult for American firms.

But of the three, the charm offensive is key. Faced with a president who takes perceived slights badly, Trudeau is going out of his way to stay on Trump’s good side.

Staying on Trump's good side is a Sisyphean task. As soon as you roll the stone up the hill a little, the mercurial Trump kicks it back down again.

It's not easy to stay out of Trump's swamp.



Lorne said...

I suppose there is a parallel to be made with those in abusive relationships, Owen. The abused partners often hope against hope that the abusers will change, if only they do nothing to provoke them in the interim.

Studies show us how well such marital appeasement strategies work, eh? I wonder when Trudeau will learn this hard lesson vis-à-vis Trump.

Owen Gray said...

It appears that Angela Merkel is a quick study, Lorne. She will not be abused -- and Trump knows it.

Anonymous said...

Staying on Trump's good side isn't worth the candle. As the entire WH staff now knows, it comes at the cost of every shred of self-respect. Far better to be like Merkel and call it like it is. That will at least get you the respect of your own voters.


Owen Gray said...

Precisely, Cap. Keeping Trump happy is wasted energy. I suspect that anyone who has worked for -- or been married to -- Trump can testify to that fact.

Anonymous said...

Yup. Trump is all about domination and if he's winning, you're losing. I loved the way Macron stood his ground on the handshake and, white knuckles showing, forced Trump to back down first. Any young guy like Trudeau or Macron who gets bested in a handshake contest by a 70-year-old lard-ass Trump deserves what's coming.


Owen Gray said...

The folks in Europe have Trump's number, Cap. They've seen his kind before.

Steve said...

This is a great example of history repeating itself. Not so great for the great Americans who are going to die for nothing.

The bottom line in modern history, lets let the British Empire rest, although the motives where all the same is pipelines.

We are not going to get those pipelines period.

Owen Gray said...

Afghanistan has become the never ending war, Steve.

The Mound of Sound said...

Trump campaigned on the promise that he had a secret play to wipe out ISIS within his first 30 days as president. His plan was so good he had to keep everyone in the dark so ISIS would be taken by surprise. The Gullibillies, every bit as stupid as those who forked over big money to enrol in Trump University, bought the snake oil but that's no reason why we should risk another Canadian life on that same chicanery.

Chretien got us into Afghanistan to appease the Americans first to police the capital, Kabul,and later, under Martin, to take the Kandahar combat gig. A decade passed and we left - with nothing to show for it.

By any standard we were defeated. We lost. Harper defined our war to nurture human rights, defend democracy and drive al Qaeda and their hosts, the Talibs, out of Afghanistan for all time. We accomplished none of that and when we left our enemy still held the field.

Now they want us back. For what, more of the same? Trump is only sending forces there because he doesn't want to risk being deemed the president who lost Afghanistan. He can't win that war but he mustn't be seen to have lost it. Trump haS embraced perma-war which guarantees he'll keep this dark farce going until, by hook or by crook, he's driven from the White House.

Owen Gray said...

It's the same argument LBJ used for widening the War in Vietnam, Mound. He didn't want to be the president who lost Southeast Asia. Kennedy was beginning to have his doubts. Obama had his. But Trump refuses to learn from history -- even recent history.

Steve said...

If LGJ was not in on the coup, he was co opted by it. The military industrial complex needs blood and your donating, its up to you to choose how much.

The west is spending trillions fighting terrorism. So where is the money for the other side comming from. How about we just shut that supply line down and go home.

Owen Gray said...

Unfortunately, Steve, shutting down the supply line isn't easy.

Anonymous said...

Back to Afghanistan, where dead Russian equipment lies abandoned after decades of war....Owen? We are peace keepers.

I have a sense that our PM is a real friend of the few remaining Liberal leaders left on earth, and the T-Bum, is a (fake) BFF. It just may be that Team Trudeau is 'playing' the whole criminal racket of the present, elected, US government- ruthlessly. And, we absolutely should kick their asses on trade issues. Freeland isn't there for nothing- and Dump, quite obviously cannot negotiate- he rules by Order and Tweet. Yeah, right. No cred, whatsoever. Maybe the- "Polls? What polls"- guy,Mike Cohen, can get him a better deal from the Fed's. Oh yeah, that's right...he and Boris Epshtine- they should....be pleading the 5th.....any moment now.

Have a great one, sir.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, lovingit, that Trump is no one's BFF.