Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

Opinion: Trump the destroyer


I want to apologize to the people of Canada for the attacks launched by Donald Trump and his minions against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the weekend. Those attacks were disgraceful and destructive and dishonored the long friendship between our nations.

Of course, the disrespect began at the top, from Trump himself.


After that tweet, the sycophants surrounding Trump in this increasingly cult-like White House chimed in as well, expressing a strange but increasingly familiar sense of grandiosity.

“There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad-faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door,” Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro said in a Fox News interview. “That’s what weak, dishonest Justin Trudeau did, and that comes straight from Air Force One.

“He really kind of stabbed us in the back,” echoed Trump economics adviser Larry Kudlow on CNN. “It’s a betrayal. It’s essentially double-crossing. Not just double-crossing President Trump, but other members of the G-7.”

Here are the comments that got Trudeau condemned to a special place in hell by Trump. Judge for yourself:

As you can see, nothing in Trudeau’s statement begins to justify such shameful language from the American side, and other members of the G-7 put the blame entirely on Trump. They know by now, as do we all know by now, that it is both utterly bizarre and perfectly in character for Trump to launch such an assault on our closest friend and ally, based on so little.

That’s the thing about Trump: To have a friend, you must be a friend, and Trump has no friends in his personal life. He just doesn’t see the value in that kind of relationship. Instead, he divides the world into sycophants and enemies, and everyone not in the first group is put into the second group.  That is how he conducts foreign policy as well, and it’s a dumb way to do business.

The reality is that Trump gave Trudeau and other G-7 leaders no choice but to respond as they have. His demands amount to a public insistence that our longtime allies humiliate themselves before him, and that they cannot do. Trudeau, for example, has had his political problems, but today all of Canada is united behind him and against the bullying by Trump. And as German Chancellor Angela Merkel noted, “Sometimes it seems the American president thinks that only one side wins and everyone else loses.”

The potential consequences of this breakdown are enormous. A full-blown trade war now seems inevitable, and may already be underway, with significant economic impacts. The alliance of democratic nations created in the aftermath of World War II has also been shaken to its foundations by Trump’s insistence on treating our friends as if they were our enemies.

And you know who’s very happy about all this? Vladimir Putin. His longtime goal of breaking up the Western alliance is playing out as we watch, led by the man whom Putin attempted to put into the U.S. presidency. In the words of Die Welt, a German newspaper, the now-famous photograph published above captures “the moment the West broke.”

In a meeting of U.S. allies in Normandy, France on Friday, two days after the anniversary of D-Day, our director of national intelligence issued a similar warning.

According to Dan Coats, a Trump appointee, Russia launched an “unprecedented influence campaign to interfere in the US electoral and political process” in 2016. "It is 2018, and we continue to see Russian targeting of American society in ways that could affect our midterm elections," Coats told the meeting.

“These Russian actions are purposeful and premeditated and they represent an all-out assault, by Vladimir Putin, on the rule of law, Western ideals and democratic norms,” he said.

That very same day, Trump himself was leaving Washington to head to the G-7. As he stood outside the White House, taking questions from reporters, he announced his goal of seeing Putin’s Russia reinstated as a full-fledged member of the group.

He made no mention of Russian aggression, no condemnation of its assassinations of Putin allies both in Russia and overseas. He has never targeted Putin with the level of vitriol that he later directed at Trudeau,  and in fact is courting Putin in hopes of arranging a summit meeting later this summer. It’s just freakin’ nuts.


 


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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.