Thursday, June 14, 2018

A Tale of Two Relationships: Trump with Netanyahu and Trudeau

Does the Trump administration feel a special affinity for autocrats? Does it make a special effort to offend traditional American allies in Western Europe and Canada? Does Trump reject democratic nations in favor of dictatorships led by strong men? Or does he disdain the actions of weak men?

In a long and worthwhile article today Caroline Glick explains the policy:

Trump’s actual doctrine is that the U.S. will help its allies and foes when they pursue goals the U.S. shares. And the U.S. will spurn allies – and enemies — who expect America to do their bidding as they mistake posturing for policymaking, and attitude for work.

Rather than simple-mindedly compare the Trump attitude toward North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and Canadian prime minister Justin Bieber, Glick compares the Trump relationship with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to his relationship with Canadian prime minister Justin Bieber.

Glick could have compared the way the two prime ministers were treated on their last visits to India. Whereas Netanyahu was greeted as an honored guest, a leader of a strong ally, Canada’s Trudeau was basically ignored by the Indian government. Canada’s ever-so-politically correct leader pranced around in Indian costumes, dressing inappropriately, insulting the Indian people, and looking like a clown.

To explain the Trump relationship with Netanyahu Glick quotes from a recent and excellent New Yorker article by Adam Entous. It is well worth a read.

It begins with the Netanyahu relationship with Obama. At  best, it was contentious. At worst, it was hostile.

Skip to the summer of 2014. Then, after Hamas murdered three Israeli teenagers and then attacked Israel, Obama sided with Hamas and against Israel.

Glick describes the events:

Second, in the summer of 2014, Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teenagers. In its follow-up to the massacre, Hamas launched a massive missile and rocket war against Israel.

Israel referred to the war that ensued as Operation Protective Edge. Qatar and Turkey served as Hamas’s diplomatic representatives and defenders.

Rather than side with Israel in its war against the Hamas terror regime, as all of his predecessors had done to varying degrees, Obama sided with Hamas and its state sponsors, Qatar and Turkey, against Israel.

Obama insisted that Netanyahu accept Hamas’s ceasefire conditions and walk away with no guarantee that Hamas would end its rocket and missile offensive against Israel.

Obama’s embrace of Iran and effective alliance with Hamas through Turkey and Qatar were the last straws for Israel.

As often noted on this blog, Netanyahu saw an opportunity to develop good relations with Sunni Arab states. He took it. Obama had already alienated these states because of his betrayal of Hosni Mubarak, his support for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and his efforts to appease Iran.

While Obama was siding with Hamas, leading Sunni Arab states sided with Israel:

As Obama insisted Israel accept the Turkish-Qatari ceasefire offer – that is, Hamas’s ceasefire conditions — Egypt, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia all sided with Israel against Hamas – and Obama. They rejected Hamas’s ceasefire conditions and embraced Israel’s positions entirely. Their stunning public support for Israel compelled Obama to walk back his pressure on Israel.

And then, along came Trump. In their first meeting with then-candidate Trump both Netanyahu and Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer presented him with a vision for a new relationship between America and Israel. They recommended that Trump take the lead in advancing the Israeli and American alliance with Sunni Arab states. As you know, this has come to pass.

Recognizing that American interests were better served by confronting Iran and Hamas than by strengthening them, Trump flew first to Saudi Arabia, and then continued on directly to Israel. Trump embraced and built upon the foundations Netanyahu had developed in order to advance Trump’s own vision of American needs in the Middle East. In particular, Trump charged U.S. allies with taking serious steps to advance the common goal of constraining and defeating Iran and Sunni jihadists.

And then Glick introducesda tale of two leaders, a comparison between the Netanyahu constructive approach to foreign policy with the feckless and mindless Trudeau approach:

Whereas Netanyahu — out of concern for both developing strategic ties with the incoming Trump administration and for mitigating the damage Obama’s policies had wrought on Israel’s national security — presented Trump with clearly articulated plans for achieving Trump’s own goals, Trudeau chose to ignore trade, despite a certain looming showdown over the issue with the Trump administration.

In other words: rather than accept that once Trump was elected, the Canadians would need to accept a new trade relationship with the Americans, Trudeau adopted positions on NAFTA that made it impossible to reach a deal.

For the past six months, Trudeau has managed to alienate U.S. trade representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer. Canadian representatives have refused to consider, let alone respect, reasonable U.S. concerns about trade tariffs, automobile manufacturing, and other key aspects of NAFTA and bilateral trade.

Instead of seeking compromises that could advance the interests of both countries, or at a minimum limit the damage that new U.S. trade policies would cause the Canadian economy, Trudeau pretended away the issue — hoping, apparently, that Trump would disappear if Trudeau just ignored him.

Trudeau never wanted or never knew how to negotiate in good faith with America on trade. And then, he larded it all over with politically correct claptrap:

Consequently, rather than engaging seriously with American negotiators — as the Mexicans are — Trudeau has added insult to injury by slapping progressive social engineering provisions regarding indigenous, gender, and worker rights onto Canada’s trade policies. Trudeau is apparently attempting to use bilateral trade to dictate the Trump administration’s social policy.

In other words, Trudeau has embraced posturing over substantive policymaking. Rather than presenting Trump with a deal that could make sense for the U.S. and Canada, Trudeau has presented himself as a progressive hero, standing up to the Left’s greatest enemy.

Glick makes a salient point. Trudeau is posturing, making himself a progressive hero. He takes himself for a leader of the Resistance. And then, when Trump calls him out, the armies of the American progressive left wail about how Trump is not treating him with respect.

Clearly, Trump is trying to realign American relations. People have misunderstood this:

… when Trump criticizes American allies for expecting the United States to defend them and pay for the privilege, he isn’t doing it to blow off steam. Trump believes that for alliances to be meaningful, they have to be alliances between independent states that come together to pursue common interests.

True, the U.S. is the strongest party. But it cannot be expected to do what its allies could do themselves yet refuse to do. When Trump discusses NATO reform, there can be little doubt that he envisions an alliance of states that actually defend themselves.

Obviously, the Western European nations that have been enjoying a free ride, especially when it comes to their defense, are now up in arms when they see the bill coming due. After all, they embody everyone’s most cherished ideals. How dare Trump call them out as wastrels whose grandiose social welfare experiments are underwritten by an American military that protects them and for which they do not pay a fair price?

1 comment:

Sam L. said...

Obama, and Bieber, are doofuses (doofi??). Trump is a doer.