Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday June 12, 2018
Escalating Clash With Canada, Trump Is Isolated Before North Korea Meeting
President Trump escalated a bitter clash with some of America’s closest allies on Sunday, lashing out through his advisers at Canada’s prime minister in unusually personal terms and leaving himself with a diplomatic crisis as he arrived in Asia to negotiate a nuclear agreement with North Korea.
A day after Mr. Trump refused to sign a communiqué of the Group of 7 major industrial economies, he and his advisers went on the attack, accusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of “betrayal” and a “stab” in the back, even as Canada, Germany and France pushed back against what they called the American president’s “insult” and “inconsistency.”
The exchange left Mr. Trump estranged from America’s partners at the very moment he is about to stride onto the most important world stage he has assumed since taking office. Aides attributed his outburst over the weekend to his feeling undercut as he prepared to meet with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, while critics said he had stiff-armed his friends at the expense of a unified front.
Whether Mr. Kim sees Mr. Trump’s combative approach as a sign of strength or weakness, the rupture with other major powers was sure to shadow the session between the two in Singapore on Tuesday, the first time leaders of the United States and North Korea will have met in person. Mr. Trump’s strategy for pressuring Mr. Kim to give up his nuclear weapons has depended on isolating North Korea, but he arrived in Singapore looking isolated himself.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Robert D. Hormats, who advised Republican and Democratic presidents at a dozen Group of 7 summit meetings, starting at the first in Rambouillet, France, in 1975, when it was still the Group of 6.
“The irony is this institution that was designed largely by the United States was really designed to shore up alliances and political relationships and resolve economic issues. This just served to do the opposite of that.”
The latest meeting, held in Canada, was tense amid disputes over trade, security and other issues. But after negotiators for all seven countries crafted a final communiqué that even the reluctant American delegation agreed to, Mr. Trump abruptly lashed out on Twitter from Air Force One on Saturday night.
He refused to sign the communiqué, saying Mr. Trudeau had made “false statements” at an end-of-summit news conference, and calling the Canadian leader “dishonest & weak.”
By Sunday morning, Mr. Trump’s aides were adding fire to the attack on Mr. Trudeau. Larry Kudlow, the president’s economic adviser, said that Mr. Trudeau’s comments were “a betrayal” and that he had “stabbed us in the back.” Mr. Trump “is not going to let a Canadian prime minister push him around,” Mr. Kudlow said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program, adding, “He is not going to permit any show of weakness on the trip to negotiate with North Korea.” (Source: New York Times)