Monday, June 11, 2018
Yes, he is an effing moron, why do you ask?
From the Economist:
On trade, at one point it seemed as though Mr Trump was in search of some sort of grand bargain, as he called for the end of all subsidies, tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade. But this was more an indication of how poorly Mr Trump understands the global trading system than a serious summons to the negotiating table. Even so, combing through the joint communiqué, signs of genuine co-operation were to be found, including a commitment to agree on new rules regarding “market-distorting subsidies” and state-owned enterprises.
After all that, Mr Trump’s trans-Pacific tweets struck an incendiary note. But his combination of bullying rhetoric and aggrieved victimhood is well-known. His threat to raise tariffs on cars is not new. An official investigation into whether cars are a threat to America’s national security was launched weeks ago. Nor is this the first time Mr Trump has railed against Canadian tariffs on dairy products. Mr Trudeau’s unwillingness to accept a hard sunset clause for NAFTA, or to accept American tariffs on steel and aluminium without retaliation, were also already clear.
It is perhaps more surprising that Mr Trump still faces people who think he can be persuaded by facts. The Cirque du Soleil performers who entertained the G7 leaders on Friday evening were not the only ones tying themselves in knots. At the meeting, Mr Trump’s counterparts brought binders of figures to the session devoted to trade in an attempt to persuade him that his belief that the rest of the world was unfair to America was mistaken. Tellingly, the desk in front of Mr Trump was bare. He later told reporters the others had been smiling at him as if they could not believe they had got away with using America as a “piggy bank” for so long. “The gig is up,” he said.
Then he got on the plane and had an epic meltdown when he saw a picture of Angela Merkel and heard that Justin Trudeau politely responded to those broadsides at a press conference.
And yes, he said gig, not jig.
This piece in the Star, goes into depth about what happened at the meeting. It's actually worse than I thought:
Based on conversations on background and on-the-record talks with Canadian and other G7 delegation officials over the past three days, the behind-the-scenes dynamic was a tense one.Wonderful.
Coming into the summit, Trump had already angered allies with his decision to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from some of America’s key allies, including Canada.
At talks on the economy Friday afternoon, one official from a European G7 delegation said Trump aired a string of “grievances” about trade. The others responded in kind, the official said.
All leaders in their final news conferences referenced that afternoon’s trade talk as “frank” and direct.
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May told reporters that the other six leaders had expressed their opposition to Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs. “We had some difficult conversations and some strong debate.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Trump it was unacceptable that after two generations of alliance where they had worked to integrate their economies, Trump would sandbag his G7 allies with steel and aluminum tariffs “without talking to anybody,” said one official.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tackled Trump’s threatened tariffs against the auto industry, arguing Japanese cars are not a national security threat to the U.S.
Those frictions on trade continued into the Friday evening bilateral meeting between Trump and Trudeau, one that started off cordially.
Trudeau offered the U.S. president a small token of friendship, a framed photo of Trump’s grandfather’s hotel in Bennett, B.C., which Trump’s press secretary tweeted as a “great moment” between the two.
As Canadian officials tell it, Trudeau went over all of Canada’s arguments in opposition to Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, even though the Canadians had the feeling the American team had already “done some homework about how the Canadian public had reacted” to tariffs, and were surprised by the backlash.
Trudeau told Trump directly what he said in American television interviews the week before: that Canadians felt Trump’s declaration that Canadian steel and aluminum is a national security threat was “kind of insulting” — as Trudeau described it in his news conference Sunday.
An official said Trudeau used the example of the Canadian airbase where Trump’s Air Force One had touched down for the summit about an hour north.
“Why is Bagotville there? Bagotville is there to protect aluminum smelters that were building American warplanes in the Second World War,” Trudeau told Trump.
Trump’s trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, protested about Canada’s tariff markups on foreign dairy imports.
“The Prime Minister said, ‘Look, here’s the essence of our trading relationship. We sell you a lot of oil and energy and you sell us a lot of food and manufactured goods. It is a trillion dollar relationship. We could pick any one of those things and argue over the numbers. But shouldn’t we be talking about the relationship as a whole, which is an unmitigated positive for both of us?”
Canadian officials believed at the time Trump “got that.” They agreed to accelerate NAFTA talks, but there was no clear path as to the next steps with the tariffs in place.
After their meeting, Trump and Trudeau attended the G7 leaders working dinner on peace and security in the world, a topic where all leaders could find some common ground.
Abe’s spokesperson, Noria Maruyama, said half the discussion around the table was about North Korea, with Trump having the unanimous support of his allies. The rest of the talk centred on Russia, which he said prompted a lot of “vivid” and “frank” discussion.
En route to the summit, Trump had shocked everyone in calling for Russia to be readmitted to the G7. The others said no. Rookie Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte had first supported Trump, but later dialled back his enthusiasm.
After dinner Friday night, the leaders moved outdoors to watch a cultural entertainment show, complete with a bonfire and Cirque de Soleil performers.
Maruyama said the show put everyone in a “friendly” mood and, when it was all over, the leaders continued to talk.
Trudeau and Trump had been talking separately, then urged everyone to come into a leader’s lounge off their meeting room in the sprawling Manoir Richelieu so the leaders could try to reach agreement on a final statement.
The Americans, led by Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow, said they couldn’t agree to language that supported the global rules-based trading system because they were trying to reform the system, said a source, but agreed to a nod to the World Trade Organization. Trudeau argued that the two were linked.
The leaders went back and forth for up to an hour. The Americans could agree to language on the WTO, and “a rules-based global system” not “the rules-based global system,” said the source. All agreed to “commit to modernize the WTO to make it more fair as soon as possible.”
After that, the task of fine-tuning the statement was handed off to their “sherpas” or summit aides, and senior officials, who met until 2:30 in the morning.
But by the next morning, before the G7 leaders were to meet with a gender advisory council for breakfast, it appeared the consensus had unravelled.
And other sticking points remained, said the official. The Americans didn’t want to agree to a declaration on climate change that referenced the Paris Accord, nor did they want to sign on an oceans charter, which contained targets on plastics, with similar language.
Word came Trump was unexpectedly going to hold his own closing press conference before leaving. So there was a scramble to get the leaders together again to haggle over those issues.
It was the last chance to forge compromises.
Photos of the group of G7 leaders and their top officials, including one posted by Merkel’s office that went viral, show an intense debate that was going on over the final communiqué’s language on trade and oceans, with Trump seated in the middle.
No one expected Trump would sign on the climate change piece, but they’d hoped the U.S. would agree to take joint action to tackle plastic pollution in the world’s oceans.
In the end, it didn’t.
Trump held a news conference in which he promptly appeared to reject even the ideas on trade embodied in the communiqué he had agreed to, threatening to cut trade ties with any country who didn’t agree to a “zero tariffs” approach, telling reporters “the gig is up.”
“We’re like the piggy bank that everybody’s robbing, and that ends.”
Trump left, skipping the climate change and oceans sessions, but Trudeau took the stage Saturday evening to proclaim all G7 leaders had reached a joint statement, calling the summit a success and outlining his own talks with Trump.
It drew Trump’s wrath. Referencing Trudeau’s account of pushing back at the U.S., he tweeted Trudeau made “false statements.” He scorned Trudeau as appearing “meek and mild” in their meetings, but was “dishonest and very weak.”
Canadian officials insist, and Trudeau’s spokesperson tweeted, that Trudeau said nothing he hadn’t already said in public or in private to Trump.
On Sunday, Trudeau wouldn’t directly respond to Trump’s comments, only tweeting that the meaningful work the G7 had done was all that matters.
Canadian government officials were equally careful.
One called Trump’s actions rude, another said the U.S. president had personally insulted the prime minister and he would not engage on that level, adding that Trudeau was mindful of Trump’s concern — stated through Kudlow — that Trump was angry he’d been made to look weak in advance of the North Korea summit.
In the end, a summit meant to patch trade rifts ended with a deeper acrimony and questions about the Canada-U.S. relationship and how it could recover in the crucial weeks ahead.
digby 6/11/2018 12:40:00 PM