It takes an extra-special effort to turn a friendly Group of Seven summit into a rancorous, invective-laden encounter. The G-7 was founded by staunch developed-world allies as a way of co-ordinating trade policies to promote mutual prosperity and a spirit of global co-operation. That’s the best way to reduce the kinds of tension that push nations toward hostilities.
US President Donald Trump stomped all over that concept at last week’s G-7 summit in Canada, as if to suggest co-operation is for losers. Trump tried to justify his belligerent behaviour as necessary to address trade imbalances and predatory practices by countries allegedly taking advantage of America. In reality, however, it was about one thing only: Trump’s ego.
His G-7 counterparts – Britain, Canada, Germany, Japan, France and Italy – stood their ground and refused to buckle under Trump’s pouting and bullying tactics. They made clear he was being unnecessarily confrontational and wildly exaggerating trade imbalances to mask his loose grasp of the facts.
But they were dealing with a man who surrounds himself with sycophants and aides who tell him only what he wants to hear. Trump apparently cannot handle being in a room with coequals who refuse to fawn over him.
The result was another embarrassing public tantrum. He left the summit, according to other leaders, having agreed to a final communique that reiterated the members’ determination to work out their trade disagreements diplomatically. Trump even described their level of co-operation as a “10” on a 10-point scale. But when he saw Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak critically at a news conference about Trump’s threatened tariffs on some Canadian goods, Trump exploded on Twitter, calling Trudeau “very dishonest & weak.”
Recriminations quickly followed. “Big tough guy once he’s back on his airplane,” tweeted former Trudeau foreign affairs adviser Roland Paris. “Can’t do it in person, and knows it. ... He’s a pathetic little man-child.”
France called for all G-7 leaders to be “serious and worthy of our people” and, in a clear reference to Trump, lamented the “inconsistency” of those who agree to a final communique then reverse themselves after the meeting ends.
British Prime Minister Theresa May defended Trudeau. Germany’s foreign minister excoriated Trump for having destroyed the atmosphere of goodwill. “In a matter of seconds, you can destroy trust with 280 Twitter characters. To build that up again will take much longer.”
Perhaps Trump hoped that his divisive behaviour would somehow portray an image of toughness ahead of his talks in Singapore with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Instead, his message was that the US. president can’t be trusted nor control his own emotions. Once again, Trump justifies the view of his critics that he is not worthy of the high office he occupies. – Tribune News Service
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