, 06.18.2018 02:43 AM

Column: the new world disorder

LONDON – A G7 truth.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, who lately knows a thing or two about unsubtle truths, offered up a perfectly English way of describing it all: “Difficult.”

The G7 summit, that is. “This was a difficult summit, with at times some very candid discussions,” May told MPs in the House of Commons. “The United Kingdom, with our allies and partners, will continue to play our part in promoting…the rules-based international order.”

Except, of course, there is no “rules-based international order” anymore. With the exception of the one that Vladimir Putin has unleashed on the West, “rules” and “order” are now decidedly oxymoronic. The new new order – characterized by chaos and disunity and the disintegration of democratic institutions – is the one that prevails, now.

Donald Trump is the embodiment of the new world disorder, and also the glowering face of it. Even the Britons most disinterested in politics knows that much. Down at the bustling Camden Market, above all of the knock-off Nike and Thrasher stuff, there is one T-shirt that is a big seller: one featuring a face, with Donald Trump on one side, and with Adolf Hitler’s on the other.

Just past the Hitler-Trump T-shirts, in an old British Rail yard, is the spot where the Clash practiced, a place called Rehearsal Rehearsals. The legendary punk group posed for their first album cover there, too, and wrote many of the political anthems found on that record.

“Yankee dollar talks, to the dictators of the world,” the Clash’s Joe Strummer howled on their song, ‘I’m So Bored Of The USA.’ “In fact it’s giving orders, and they can’t afford to miss a word!”

“I’m so bored with the U.S.A.

I’m so bored with the U.S.A.

But what can I do?”

Not much, then or now. Trump – as despotic and as deranged as he is – is indisputably in charge. Per Strummer, he’s not just talking, but giving orders.  We listen.

That was the part of the G7 summit in Québec that was the hardest to bear, for the British Prime Minister and our own: being obliged to listen to Trump. Being again forced to take seriously the rantings and ravings of the most unqualified President of the United States in history.

That, too, was the significance of that now-infamous photo, the one that was everywhere to be seen here in London, in the dispiriting day’s following the worst-ever G7 summit: the G7 leaders and advisers sombrely gathered around Germany’s Angela Merkel, as she stood like a schoolteacher above a pouting Trump, his arms crossed, the petulant child. Merkel looked to be imploring Trump about some point, and Justin Trudeau (revealingly, perhaps) was not even in the frame.

The photo’s file name – taken from Merkel’s Instagram account – was “AGMtenseboardroom.jpg.”

“Tense boardroom” is a bit of an understatement. Trump arrived late at the G7, departed early, and left frustration and consternation in his wake. On his way out of town, most notably, Trump lashed out at his host, Trudeau.

Trump said Trudeau was “dishonest.” He said Trudeau was “weak.” He said that Trudeau’s comments about the collapse of the G7 – which were bland and benign diplomatic politesse, and nothing particularly new – were going to “cost the Canadian people a lot of money.”

Trump’s advisors piled on, too. “There’s a special place in Hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door,” said Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro.

Not since John F. Kennedy raged about John Diefenbaker – not since Lyndon B. Johnson grabbed Mike Pearson by the lapels and shook him – have Canada-U.S. relations been this truly bad. Trump’s attacks on Trudeau – and, to a lesser degree, his dismissal of the G7 what May calls the rules-based international order – left the pundits and the experts in a lather.

Not this one, I confess. As I observed on Twitter, Trump’s preferred social media platform, “Justin Trudeau’s relationship with Donald Trump was always going to reach this nadir: Trump is a dishonest, disgusting thug. No campaign of servility was ever going to change that. But, now that it has, every Canadian should rally to Trudeau’s side.”

And, with the notable exception of the tin-eared Andrew Scheer, Canadians have rallied to Trudeau’s side. From Doug Ford in Ontario to Jason Kenney in Alberta, even Trudeau’s fiercest partisan critics were outraged by Trump’s attacks on a Canadian Prime Minister, and on Canada’s economy.

Meanwhile, Trudeau’s Trump charm offensive – up to and including pretending to take seriously Trump’s daughter, who was previously was only known for designing ugly handbags – was left in ruins at the G7. The thirty-plus phone calls, the many bizarre handshakes – the solicitous tilt of Trudeau’s tousled head, as he feigned interest in Trump’s inanities – all came to naught. Nothing was as important as rescuing NAFTA, a PMO senior staffer told me last year, and now NAFTA appears Canadian completely doomed.

Justin Trudeau, however, isn’t.

Despite having no major legislative success to point to – despite the India imbroglio, despite the #MeToo moments, despite falling behind an uninspiring opponent in fundraising and the polls – Trudeau was politically rescued by the G7. Trump’s extraordinary attacks on the Canadian Prime Minister have united Canadians like they have seldom been before. He may be an imperfect Prime Minister, but he is our Prime Minister, after all.

The G7 may have made for some “very candid discussions,” as the British Prime Minister said. But they also made for something else: Justin Trudeau’s inevitable re-election.

And that, too, is a G7 truth.

18 Comments

  1. Luke says:

    Enjoying the read. There’s an accidental ‘Theresa Merkel’ in th te you’ll want to remedy though.

  2. Bill says:

    I’m not sure what the answer is for Canada to fight Trump, but I wouldn’t celebrate Trudeau’s re-election just yet. A prolonged trade war with the USA, would mean Canada’s economy would be in the crapper, probably peaking at election time in 2019. A conservative campaign would take advantage of this, and would offer solutions to get things back on track. I don’t see how a poor economy helps Trudeau at all. Canadians are rallying around now, not so much in support of Trudeau, but in hatred of Trump. Once pocketbook impacts are felt, much of that support, I feel, will disappear.

  3. Peter says:

    Mmm…a Hitler/Trump picture? That’s original. Now if only we could convince a Hollywood star to scream F#@k Trump!! to a crowd, he’d be gone.

    I can think of a lot of uncomplimentary adjectives to describe Trump, but deranged is not one. If the Dems and his other opposition keep letting him define, not only his agenda, but theirs too (whatever he says or does they’re for the opposite–a trap we here in Canada risk falling into), they’re going to be in trouble in 2020. We’ve seen this play may times before (Reagan, Bush, Thatcher, even the evil Stevie). All the screaming about fascism, imperialism, destroying democracy etc. didn’t prevent second and even subsequent terms.

    The closest analogy to Trump is not Hitler, but Italy’s Berlusconi. A brash multimillionaire with no political experience or base, he roared in on a populist platform and horrified progressive Italy and the rest of the EU. They rent their garments over and over and tried everything to get rid of him–criminal corruption charges, sex scandals, etc., but he just kept on preening, boasting and winning. It was only when the opposition stopped focusing on his personality and started battling him on policy grounds that he was finally defeated. What are the Dems actually going to run on? Let every illegal immigrant stay? The resumption of war games in Korea? More of the Clintons?

    • Fred from BC says:

      Best post of the week, Peter.

      It will fall on deaf ears, though…because as much as the left keeps telling us that they understand Trump’s appeal, they realize why he won the election and they now know how to beat him, they really *haven’t learned a thing* from this whole debacle (I know…amazing, right? How could they NOT figure this out??). Their ‘strategy’ , of course, will be what you just mentioned: more of the same. And then, as Einstein said, they’ll profess to be shocked when they don’t achieve a different result.

      They deserve Donald Trump. It’s just too bad that they had to inflict him on the rest of us.

      • Peter says:

        One of the effects of the hyper-partisanship we are seeing today is that both sides and their core supporters talk and act as if the whole electorate was divided into rigid camps that take the same Manichean, good-guys-bad guys approach they do, and that the path to victory lies in ratcheting up the emotional rhetoric. It doesn’t seem to compute for them that there are many independent voters in the “decent muddled middle” and that they ultimately determine the outcome of elections. There are lots of people out there who don’t like Trump for many reasons, but who don’t see him as the anti-Christ or a fascist racist or always wrong. I believe many of them are actually put off by these overheated rhetoric and appeals to naked emotionalism when they know the Dems have no immigration enforcement policy when one is badly needed. They may be suspicious of Fox News, but no more so than they are of MSNBC and they are able to cut through the bullshit and see beyond the passions of the moment.

        Frankly, I think victory for the Dems could be there for the taking if they would get rid of the old guard, free themselves from the grip of identity politics activism, start addressing a broader audience, come up with some sound identifiable policies for the issues Trump is addressing and make clear they want nothing to do with Hollywood spoiled brats and the likes of Kathy Griffin et. al. Some new faces like Conor Lamb seem to get it and are scoring impressive wins, but there seem to be thick layers of institutional dross above them who think successive bouts of righteous rage is all they need.

  4. Maureen says:

    It was Larry Kudlow who had the heart attack, not Peter Navarro.

  5. whyshouldIsellyourwheat says:

    Merkel may not survive the month. In any case, she is not likely to last much longer than a year or two. That has nothing to do with Trump. The disintegration of the West has very little to do with Trump. It was happening anyway.

    One is being misguided if one thinks Trump is the cause of all of this, rather than just one of the manifestations of it. Trump is not Asimov’s mule directing and controlling all of this.

    The problem does not go away when Trump passes from scene.

    Manning the barricades for the old order is not going to save it. One has to offer a pathway to a different change.

    • David Ray says:

      speaking of Trump passing from the scene. why do all his criminal friends like Manafort think they’ll be pardoned? what if the bloated buffoon dies in his sleep? do they think Pence will pardon them? won’t happen.

  6. Steve says:

    Warren, I think it is a bit early to be planning Trudeau’s re-election victory parade route. There has indeed been a recent bump in the polls but Trudeau has several other self inflicted crisis points to deal with that have little, if anything, to do with Trump. Pipelines (Kinder Morgan & Energy East), lack of any meaningful action to deal with the hordes of illegal immigrants personally invited by Trudeau to over-run our border, the mean spirited summer jobs fiasco, refusal to release details on how much a carbon tax will cost Canadians in addition to his coming battle with several provinces that are refusing to enact carbon taxes, or, are threatening to get rid of carbon taxes already in place. Couple that with a PMO that seems clueless on how to showcase their star PM without having him come across as a self absorbed, blithering idiot. While I am in full agreement that the egregious Trump behaviour helps Trudeau in the short term, I am thinking there are plenty of issues that may give voters second thoughts on returning the Trudeau Liberals to a majority. At this point, I am thinking a minority, at best, in 2019.

  7. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Warren,

    This Prime Minister needs new minders. The old ones will only somehow bumble their way to defeat.

    They long ago failed to truly have Trudeau’s back…but that hasn’t dawned on him yet. Justin needs to get real before it’s too late in the political cycle. 3 on 10 doesn’t get them any gold stars.

    • Fred from BC says:

      Not only did the Liberals lose a by-election in Quebec today, Ipsos came out with new polling that shows an increased approval rating for Justin Trudeau himself but not for the Liberal Party. An election held today would result in a Conservative victory.

    • Ron Benn says:

      Justin Trudeau was cast in the role of PM by his “minders” (to use your term). He reports to his script writers, they don’t report to him.

  8. David Ray says:

    Hey Warren. Some friends and I are starting a new band. gonna call ourselves “The Shoesmugglers.” Whaddaya think? 🙂

  9. Angel Martin says:

    In 1971, Pierre Trudeau tried to get an exemption to the tariff increases that were part of the “Nixon Shock”.

    Trudeau didn’t get an exemption. After that he tried to be “Mr Canada” and distance Canada from US with the “Third Option”.

    Trudeau barely survived in the 1972 election.

    • Fred from BC says:

      Geography alone ensures that we will never be able to
      ‘distance’ ourselves from the US market. Diversity is all well and good, but it has to be tempered by reality…in this case, the reality that oceans are really big and really expensive to cross.

      • Angel Martin says:

        Another reality that has to be faced is that the USA is no longer a big oil importer.

        When it was, Canada and Mexico had a lot more trade leverage.

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