Donald Trump is in Quebec this morning, working hard to tear the Western Alliance apart. Jonathan Chait writes:
Western trade partners have attempted to reason with Trump’s demands, but the problem is that the basis for his beliefs and actions is entirely fantastical. If your neighbor is irate that you let your dog run loose in his yard, you can pacify him. If he’s irate that you are reading his thoughts through his tinfoil hat, there’s nothing you can do except disengage. And that is what they are doing. French president Emmanuel Macron threatened to sign a six-country agreement omitting the U.S. altogether. Canadian prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed “to defend our industries and our workers” and “show the U.S. president that his unacceptable actions are hurting his own citizens.”
But trade is merely a symptom of a larger rearrangement of American alienation from its partners. The West has attempted to prevail upon Trump to retain, in some form, a series of agreements he inherited: the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Paris climate agreement, and the Iran nuclear deal. In every instance the negotiations foundered on Trump’s allergy to compromise and immunity to reason. You can’t negotiate a climate plan with a person who considers climate science a Chinese hoax any more than you can negotiate a trade deal with somebody who believes Canada must be punished for the War of 1812.
Trump has poisoned his relationship with each of the Western leaders:
One by one, Trump’s personal relationship with the leader of each major U.S. ally has been fatally poisoned. Angela Merkel, whom Trump had repeatedly taunted and likened to Hillary Clinton during his campaign, was the first major leader to give up on Trump. “It’s difficult to overstate just how enraged Germany is about Trump,” reports Matthew Karnitschnig. Trump’s allies tell one British newspaper he “has grown frustrated with Theresa May’s ‘school mistress’ tone.” (May publicly corrected Trump’s circulation of fake videos blaming Muslims for violence.) Trump “has griped periodically both about German Chancellor Angela Merkel — largely because they disagree on many issues and have had an uneasy rapport — as well as British Prime Minister Theresa May, whom he sees as too politically correct,” his advisers tell the Washington Post.
Macron, who has bent over backwards to flatter and placate Trump, has found his efforts unrewarded. A recent phone call between the two was “terrible,” a source tells CNN. “Macron thought he would be able to speak his mind, based on the relationship. But Trump can’t handle being criticized like that.”
Things could not have worked out better for Vladimir Putin.
Image: New York Magazine