Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday August 24, 2019
Will Trump blow up the G7 summit?
The biggest question clouding this weekend’s G7 summit in France is whether the President of the United States will blow it up.
It is a measure of the gulf between America and its allies and of how President Donald Trump has imposed his disruptive character on the world that everyone in Biarritz is bracing for a presidential eruption.
Given the President’s brazen, erratic behavior and mood in the last few days, the idea that he could repeat his tantrum and early departure at the last G7 summit in Canada last year cannot be ruled out. After all, he just pulled out of a state visit to Denmark because it refused to discuss selling Greenland.
Trump frequently flings vitriol across the Atlantic, criticizing foreign leaders who have spent the past two-and-a-half years trying, usually unsuccessfully, to work out how to handle him. His behavior is a promise kept to voters who believe that America’s friends have long taken advantage of its power and security guarantees.
Last month, for instance, he blasted French President Emmanuel Macron’s “foolishness” over a digital services tax that hit US companies and vowed to impose tariffs on French wine.
Anticipating trouble from Trump, Macron has abandoned the summit’s regular communique in an effort to take the focus off the disagreements set to rumble in the French surfing resort.
The G7, a group of rich democracies that comprise Britain, France, Germany, the US, Italy, Japan and Canada, is exactly the kind of globalized gathering that Trump and his supporters abhor and is in itself almost a rebuke to his America First philosophy.
The President prefers bilateral meetings where he can leverage superior US power, and he believes national sovereignty, not multilateral cooperation, is the foundation of international relations.
Furthermore, Trump’s sharp changes to US foreign policy have opened wide gaps with Europe on climate change, Iran, trade and Britain’s exit from the European Union that preoccupy other leaders.
“What we’re seeing, I think, is the institutionalization of America alone — I think this week we will see President Macron in France attempting to lead the six in a cogent way,” said Heather Conley of the Center for Strategic and International Studies during a conference call previewing the summit.
“The other countries are trying to figure out who takes up the new mantle, and can they hold on either until the US returns to that leadership role, if it will, or are they going to have to survive in these six dynamics without the US.”
The spectacle of Trump feuding with foreign leaders — captured at the G7 in Quebec last year inan iconic photograph horrifies his critics and the US foreign policy establishment.
Which is exactly why Trump may see a political benefit in being the disgruntled odd man out at a meeting that some foreign policy analysts have started calling the G7 minus one. (CNN)