Tuesday Blurbs - News You Should Know

Trump v. World

As we watch President Donald Trump do things that no other President has been able to do before with North Korea, we are simultaneously watching him do things that no other President would ever want to do with our allies.

At this past week’s G7 summit, a summit which brings together the world’s most powerful economies, Trump managed to completely ostracize the United States. 

Trump, who has focused on unfair trade-deals during his campaign and presidency, lashed out at our closest allies for certain policies he feels are unfair, claiming that the United States is a, “piggy bank that everyone is robbing.” 

While some of the tariffs that Trump focused on are worthy of raising an eyebrow to, such as the European Union’s 10% tariff on US Cars and Canada’s 270% tariff on dairy products, Trump is not going about this in a diplomatic way that works towards a better future, instead he is alienating himself, his administration, and the United States from the world. 

Taking the brunt of Trump’s ire was Canada and their Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  Canada, whose economy heavily relies on the United States (75% of Canada’s exports go to the US, and two million jobs, or 13% of their workforce, are tied up in this trade), has been accused by Trump of “betraying” the United States for making what he alleges to be a US$100 billion profit on US trade and he went as far as to consider them a “national security threat” because of this.

Trump has, in turn, been accused of being unnecessarily “undiplomatic and antagonistic” by the former Canadian Ambassador to the United States and former conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that Canada is the “wrong target” for Trump’s anger. 

But it is not the opinions of former politicians that concern me.

Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the United States’ strongest ally, as said that she is “fully supportive of Justin Trudeau”.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the European Union will retaliate with countermeasures, Trudeau pledged that Canada will be imposing new and harsher tariffs, and German Coordinator on Trans-Atlantic Relations Peter Beyer went as far as to say that the, “United States is no longer a reliable partner in international agreements.” 

The United States does not want to be an isolated economy. 

Since Trump’s election, we have seen some of our closest long-term allies sign trade agreements without consulting the US.  When the United States pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the remaining countries singed a new deal with the US.  As negotiations became difficult with the US on another Trans-Atlantic agreement, we have seen Canada and the EU sign a trade agreement without US input. 

This is bad.  The United States became as powerful and influential as it is by being at the forefront of international programs and agreements.  By isolating ourselves from the rest of the world, we are directly hurting our stature as a world power and the stability of our own economy. 

If Trump is able to create diplomatic ties with Kim Jong-un and North Korea, then he has to be able to recover the relationship with our oldest allies in North America and Europe. 

China Apprehensive as US - North Korea Meeting

As the world watches the historic meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, Chinese President Xi Jinping can only sit and wait. 

China has an invested interest in the outcome of this meeting for a variety of reasons, and they have done their work to ensure their influence the best they can. 

Prior to the announcement of this meeting, China had not hosted Kim once, but has hosted him twice since March (including a visit to the port city of Dalian where I was conveniently staying.)  While little is known about the specificities of these meetings (which were not even announced on Chinese or North Korean media), we can presume that Xi wanted to know about Kim’s plans for the summit. 

See, China is used to having a tight leash on North Korea.  As their primary trade partner and only true ally, China stands to lose the most in a “new” North Korea.  If the summit goes well and North Korea opens up international relations, or even becomes an ally of the United States, China runs the risk of losing this reliability.  For one, North Korea has acted as a buffer between a US military presence and China.  Depending on how this meeting goes and how far Trump is willing to go in his promise to “secure” North Korea, China might be facing a reality where American Troops are positioned right on the border.  This is especially true if this summit eventually leads to a unified Korean Peninsula. 

Additionally, China fears being isolated in Asia.  Right now, the economic powers of Asia, notably Japan and South Korea, are allied with the United States, and China fears that losing North Korea to the US will only further hurt their efforts to achieve “World Power” status.  This is especially true considering Russia, China’s most powerful ally, continues to see their international authority weaken.    

China is doubling down on this partnership, however. In recent weeks, we have seen increased visits by Russian diplomats, to include Russian President Vladimir Putin, to Beijing.  Additional scheduled visits include other Russian allies such as Syria and Iran, who are expected to send delegations to meet with Chinese officials in Beijing to reassure their countries’ bonds. 

Clearly, China is concerned about the outcome of this summit, and are securing themselves for the worst by reassuring their current allegiances.  Hopefully tensions will ease after United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits Beijing and meets with Xi to discuss the summit.  The world is a better place is the top two economies can work in conjunction with each other rather than against, and if the United States and North Korea can work together, then anything can happen.

Jake GavinComment