We should have seen this coming:
A war of words has erupted between the US and its G7 allies, hours after the group had put on an apparent show of unity at the end of a tense summit.
US President Donald Trump has continued his personal attacks against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, tweeting that he “acts hurt when called out”.
Germany’s Angela Merkel said Mr Trump’s decision to reject a joint communique was “sobering” and “depressing”.
There’s a pattern forming whereby Trump stops the US cooperating with a supposedly international effort leaving the other countries high and dry and looking entirely impotent. He did it with Paris Agreement and the Iran “deal”, and he threatened to do it with NATO. He also fired a warning shot across the bows of the UN by reminding them how much America contributes to their operations, and he did a similar thing with the Palestinians. Now he’s gone and done it with the G7.
I don’t think this is so much about trade, just as those other occasions weren’t about the headline causes either. Rather, I think Trump is reminding everyone else what they have long forgotten: without the US on board, these international efforts are non-starters because nobody else wants to pay for them. In terms of both funding and cost impacts, the US is doing the heavy lifting in almost all cases. Now I don’t think the Americans minded this per se, but it’s been going on so long that now nobody else wants to contribute much at all. Worse, these freeloaders see fit to hurl abuse at the US president, declare the US and its people are a problem, and cosy up to their enemies.
What Trump is doing is reminding his supposed allies that without American support their grand projects are nothing but hot air. The G7 would be better named the G1+6; if Britain or Canada had rejected this joint communique, nobody would have cared but because it was the US the whole meeting has now been a waste of time. Frankly, it’s about time an American president did this, and told other countries to either dial-down the anti-American rhetoric or start getting used to doing things on their own.
I am sure all these actions have considerable support among the US population, who must surely be reaching the end of their tether of being insulted by freeloaders on a daily basis. I am equally sure not a single one of the other western leaders will understand the message Trump is giving them, and continue on much as before. Hopefully the American people will continue to elect leaders who won’t stand for it.