The American people were faced yet again on June 10, 2018, with the question of why President Donald Trump cannot deal properly with our longtime allies. He arrived at the G-7 Summit late, acted divisively, missed meetings, and left early without results. Well, not positive results…
President Trump was looking for a fight and he created one. Canadian Prime Minister and host of the Summit, Justin Trudeau, issued a conclusory statement after the meetings ended. His statement was routine, calm, positive, accurate, polite, and not an attack on the U.S. However, President Trump responded in his all too common manner – Twitter. He tweeted a serious, baseless, personal attack against Trudeau. After Trump’s tweets, Trudeau then issued a stronger statement in which he said Canada would not be pushed around. However, his original statement in no way justified Trump’s tweet attack. Perhaps more importantly, President Trump failed to work with any of our allies or make progress on the critical economic challenges and other issues being addressed in the meetings.
This was yet another example of President Trump’s inability to represent the U.S. and work with our allies. G-7 Summits are critical meetings that require participants to bring their best effort, yet Trump inexplicably arrived late, missed meetings, and left early – all by design. Comparing this with his prior diplomatic failures, there is a constant theme that helps to explain this gross departure from all previous presidents. Trump doesn’t read.
Donald Trump was arguably the least prepared individual to ever be elected President. Normally putative leaders who lacked experience would strive to educate and prepare themselves. President Trump lacks the intellectual ability or worse, the interest, in learning the necessary substance and process to serve as President and Commander-in-Chief. He has never understood (or respected) our Constitution or democratic institutions and has no interest in learning them. Proper procedures fluster him, hence his affinity for dictators who rule by fiat. Most importantly, his ignorance results in his ineptitude. His unwillingness to learn and prepare results in his repeated failure on the international stage.
Trump’s plan to arrive late, skip meetings, and leave early was intended to accommodate a man in over his head. Each of the allied leaders present was significantly better informed, well read, had studied, and benefitted from experience with each other and the issues. They also attended the summit committed to good faith negotiation and a legitimate appreciation for the benefits of a positive outcome. These leaders had dignity, honor, and grace, but our President displayed none. President Trump attended reluctantly and with a negative attitude, evidenced by his setting a hostile tone in public comments before the summit began. He openly refused to pay attention (did not put on headphones to hear the English translation) and was seen napping during sessions. He used his attitude and limited engagement as a defense mechanism to lower expectations and avoid displaying his limited intellect, knowledge, and ability. Regardless of the effectiveness of his playbook, the failed opportunities for progress on multiple, critical diplomatic fronts is an incredible disservice to the nation. In this case, the result was also further strain on already declining relations between the U.S. and our allies.
The G-7 Summit resulted in weaker relations among the allies. This hurt the future of the western alliance and its ability to work collectively on defense, economics, and other pressing matters. Trump’s only contribution to the summit was his ridiculous suggestion that Russia be allowed to re-join. Russia was ousted after invading TWO of its neighbors, shooting down a commercial airliner, and annexing the sovereign territory of another country. And there is the extensive interference in the U.S. 2016 election designed to undermine our democracy as well as cyber interference in other countries elections. All that and President Trump wanted to reward them with re-entry into the G-8…
The current situation does not help Europe or the U.S. The weakened alliance favors Putin’s Russia and Xi’s China. Russia and China not only benefit greatly from a weakened NATO, but are better able to achieve economic objectives, especially China, without the interference of a united western community. Was this really Trump’s objective by attending the summit? Could his naivete reach such a depth? It is either that or he was actively working against the alliance and most importantly U.S. interests. Could it be that Xi is the one who actually holds influence over Trump? During the campaign, Trump stated that China was “raping” our country (referring to its economic warfare). Whatever the case with President Trump proves to be, the U.S. clearly lost coming out of the summit. Those supporting the President are complicit in the damage to our country. They need to push the President to study and pus him to understand why we need our allies and why we need to treat our enemies with caution.
A few pundits posited that this was part of President Trump’s master plan and intended to influence Kim Jong Un for their own summit. That is highly unlikely for several reasons. First, Trump truly fails to comprehend U.S. policy and diplomatic procedures. He continually chooses not to learn or prepare. Second, he personally attacked Prime Minister Trudeau in a vicious, unnecessary manner that was extremely counterproductive to U.S. interests. This has no connection to the North Korea issues. Furthermore, Trump surrogates Larry Kudlow and Peter Navarro doubled down on the personal attacks against Trudeau. They repeated Trump’s false claims and went even further, using inflammatory words like “betrayal.” Navarro proved unequivocally that he is completely incapable and unqualified for his position as Trade Advisor. He should be immediately removed before he causes even more damage to the economy. Lastly, the overall impression it most likely leaves Kim is that he cannot trust any agreement with Trump, not scare him into submission or a better deal for the U.S. There is one huge similarity – President Trump stated he did not need to prepare for either.