Monday, June 11, 2018

Three Day Weekends Are The Worst!

So that's what Trump said happened in Charlevoix (bet you didn't know where it was, did you?  "Canada" is a nation, not a particular place.  Surprise!)  But this is what Canada says happened:

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.”

You'll want to read the entire article to get full details; I'm selecting for my purposes.  Let's cut directly to Trudeau, since his actions are the source of controversy from the U.S.

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.

And there was apparently a homoousias/homoiousias moment:

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.”

What seemed to have been agreed to fell apart by breakfast the next morning.  This led to negotiations that went nowhere, and Trump's press conference just before he left for Singapore:

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.”

Safely away, Trump blew up on Twitter, using Trudeau as an excuse:

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.

According to the article, Trudeau's take is that the G7 summit made Trump look "weak", at least in Trump's eyes, on his way to Singapore.  Having Larry Kudlow declare Trump was not weak, was an excellent way to rebut that point, n'est pas?

Which leads me to why I am telling you all of this.  Trump's people made sure they seized the narrative as soon as possible.  The hue and cry about a "special place in hell" was notably over the top, but no one really thinks Peter Navarro is going to lose his job for those impolitic and undiplomatic remarks.  Indeed, the White House has already started fence-mending efforts with Canada.  But the reason I'm telling you this is to warn you to expect the same from Singapore.

No, I don't expect Trump to call Kim Jong Un "Little Rocket Man" again, or threaten North Korea with "fire and fury."  I just expect Trump to declare victory and flee back to D.C. and access to Fox News as fast as he can.  No, I'm not exaggerating; I saw an article explaining Trump complains about foreign travel because he can't get FoxNews while he's out of the country.  And he's already announced he will leave Sinagapore as soon as tomorrow, which means the whole "summit" is jut a gigantic photo op.  Trump will announce what happened, as he did in the tweet about Trudeau, and his staff will generate a cloud of squid ink to obscure whatever actually occurred (effectively, nothing, except the recognition of North Korea that NK has craved for decades), and that will be the narrative everyone will be talking about.

Oh, and probably about Trump's Nobel Prize, again.  Which is pretty much a part of the "Fuck Obama" doctrine that motivates this White House.  But what will actually happen in Singapore?  You'll have to read the news articles to find out.  CNN and MSNBC and FoxNews will all be talking about what Trump said happened, a narrative that will no more reflect reality than Trump's tweets reflect the events of the G7 in Charlevoix.  Because nobody is talking about this:

Or this:
Or this:

Or even this:
Sure, the G7 may be more style than substance, one more meeting of rich privileged people to discuss in the abstract the lives of non-rich non-privileged people while never letting such people anywhere near the place, but if you read the Charlevoix communique, with topics like:

"Investing in Growth that Works for Everyone"
"Advancing Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment"
"Working together on Climate Change, Oceans and Clean Energy"

You start to understand why Trump didn't want to sign it, and why it had nothing to do with Canada's dairy tariffs or Prime Minister Trudeau's "False Statements."  He's not going to sign anything of significance in Singapore; but what are the accomplishments he's going to claim, and how real will those accomplishments be?

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