Trump’s Agenda in Canada and Singapore: Isolate the U.S. From Our Allies

In the aftermath of the G7 meeting, it is worth taking a moment to remember when this happened:

In case you can’t watch video, it is about the fact that, during a fundraiser, Trump bragged that he made stuff up about a trade imbalance between the U.S. and Canada during a meeting with Trudeau. Both during and after the G7 meeting, he continued to lie and distort the facts. For example, this has been a consistent theme:

When it comes to the Canadian dairy tariffs, here’s what Trump either doesn’t know or doesn’t want you to know:

Protective measures like Canada’s dairy tariff are common around the world. The U.S. uses tariffs to protect a variety of industries from a 350% tariff on tobacco to more 160% on shelled peanuts. In other cases, such as sugar, the U.S. has crafted a complex program to protect domestic industry by limiting imports.

Kevin Drum has done a great job of explaining how the U.S. limits dairy imports.

For all practical purposes, then, this is US dairy trade policy:

* We allow a little bit of foreign cheese to be imported.
* Everything else is subject to tariffs so high that we allow no imports at all.

In other words, pretty much nothing Trump has said over the last few days about trade has any relationship with facts. The nonsense about Canada’s dairy tariffs are simply one example. To demonstrate what this is all about, the president’s most recent tweets have veered away from lies about trade to an old theme of his.

Adding insult to injury, Trump continues to undermine the NATO alliance along with his threats about trade. Could he be any more transparent when it comes to isolating the U.S. from our most dependable allies?

There is a way in which that move to break up alliances could be part of his meeting with Kim Jong-un in Singapore. Thomas Wright provides this reminder:

…Trump has always had concerns about alliances in general and the U.S.-South Korea one in particular. Since the mid 1980s, he has argued that America’s alliances are a bad deal. Initially his wrath was focused on Japan and the Arab states but in 2013, he said, “How long will we go on defending South Korea from North Korea without payment? … When will they start to pay us?” In an interview with NBC in 2015, he said, “We have 28,000 soldiers on the line in South Korea between the madman and them. We get practically nothing compared to the cost of this.”

That leads to a concern about what kind of deal he’ll be willing to make with Kim Jong-un.

It would trade one of America’s most important alliances for a promise to freeze North Korea’s nuclear weapons program where it is—which is to say, it would legitimize its existing arsenal…North Korea has offered such a deal before. It has held out the prospect of denuclearization in exchange for a peace treaty that included an end to the U.S.-South Korea alliance. The United States has always rejected such a deal.

Do you see the pattern that is developing? Old alliances with Europe, Canada, Japan, and South Korea are being demolished, leaving the United States isolated. Given how dangerous that is, it is impossible to ignore the fact that one person benefits from what Donald Trump is doing: Vladimir Putin.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .