From the looks of it, a simple tiff is leading to serious tensions after the two leaders clashed at last week's G7 Summit in Canada, which already foreboded trouble before it even began after Trump took to Twitter to vent his frustrations at the unfair trading practices of his allies. Despite the dramatic backdrop to one of the West's most important meetings of the year, the event itself proceeded without too many surprises, with the US expectedly disagreeing with its partners but Trump nevertheless keeping it civil.
Everything changed the moment after he left the event early en route to Singapore for his summit with Kim Jong-Un, as Trudeau took the opportunity to attack the President in what Trump's aides described as a "backstabbing" that earned the Canadian premier "a special place in hell". Trump, never one to back down from what he perceives to be a challenge to his self-assumed alpha male authority, unleashed a tirade against Trudeau on Twitter accusing him of making "false statements" and being "Very dishonest & weak", after which he brought up a politically inconvenient fact by reminding everyone that Canada charges American farmers a whopping 270% tariff on dairy products.
Trudeau tried to defend himself but the amusing viral video of what looked like one of his eyebrows falling off during a press conference distracted from his message and contributed to making him the butt of even more jokes. While it might seem like fun and games to some of the people watching this feud unfold, the reality is that US-Canadian ties are tenser than at any time in living memory, with America's northern neighbor fighting in vain to protect its dignity while the US threatens to turn the screws on Canada's economy that's largely dependent on exports to the lower 48 states.
Canada doesn't have much in the way of leverage, but if there's any hope remaining, it's that its other G7 allies support it with their own punitive tariffs against the US in response, though it's far from certain that this will happen or if it would have any effect on lessening Washington's pressure on Ottawa. It's too early to tell, but Trump's tiff with Trudeau might presage the end of NAFTA and even Transatlantic unity if the EU bets on the wrong horse.
Scott Gibbons is the author of the book Trapped by History: the Remaking of America and Death of the Middle Class, The Millennial Metropolis: Power Cities and the Age of Trump, and an active blogger on thegreathoax at Wordpress, and Christopher Black, international criminal lawyer with 20 years of experience in war crimes and international relations, and a commentator on international affairs, commented on the issue.
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