The G7 meeting on June 8 and the Trump/North Korea proposed summit on June 12 provide some striking contrasts. The Trump administration is attacking the other G7 countries, while North Korea is being treated more and more like an ally.
Here’s a comparison illustrating how the Trump administration is treating North Korea like an ally and Europe, Canada, and Japan like enemies.
The G7 Summit
The Group of Seven or G7 consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the United States. The group was formerly known as the G8 until Russia was expelled, and accounts for 39 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). All members except for Japan are also members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The G7 summit on June 8 will be the 44th annual G7 summit.
In advance of the G7 meeting, President Trump has alienated all other members by imposing steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada, Mexico, and the EU. Finance ministers from the other G7 countries issued a joint statement criticizing the trade actions taken by the United States.
Concerns were expressed that the tariffs imposed by the United States on its friends and allies, on the grounds of national security, undermine open trade and confidence in the global economy.
According to French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, “What this G7 is going to show is that the United States are alone against everyone and especially alone against their allies.”
In addition to the recent tariffs, the Trump administration has:
- Pulled out of the Paris climate accords
- Pulled out of the deal to monitor Iran’s nuclear activities
- Pushed Japan to the sidelines in negotiations with North Korea by agreeing to meet directly with Kim Jong-un
Trump hasn’t talked or tweeted about the upcoming G7 summit. The biggest news story here about the summit outside of the tariffs and anger has been that Melania will not attend.
As one senior aid said about the G7 summit:
At the moment there’s nothing. It’s just about being nice to women, which is fine, but is that it?
Trump has shown no sign of wanting to work with the other G7 countries and appears perfectly willing to treat our former allies as enemies.
The June 12 Meeting with North Korea
When it comes to North Korea, however, it’s a very different story. Trump has gone out of his way to set up a personal meeting with Kim Jong Un despite warnings that this already gives the dictator a win and puts him on equal footing with the United States.
Why is Trump bending over backward for Kim?
I believe it’s because Trump already has a deal. That is, he already has something that he is going to be able to sell as a victory.
Why do I think this? Because first and foremost Trump cares about appearance, and I don’t believe he would enter a situation this publicly without already knowing there would be some kind of positive outcome that he could sell.
The other reason I believe this is the case is because Trump milked the media with his cancellation letter which was quickly followed up by an announcement that the meeting was back on. Subsequently, Trump gets credit for “unorthodox methods.” What it all really looks like is Kabuki theater—a show where the outcome is already known.
My guess is that Kim agrees to end the Korean War and give Trump credit. Possibly, there will some concessions on nuclear weapons. In exchange, my guess is that Trump pulls U.S. troops out of South Korea.
If a deal like this happens, here’s who wins …
- North Korea. As already mentioned North Korea is now on equal footing with the United States. They don’t really give up anything and they’ve already bettered their relationship with China.
- China. China wants the U.S. out of South Korea—a possible outcome—and to be the dominant power broker in the East. Anything that reduces U.S. power in the East is a win for China.
- Trump. Trump appears to be betting a lot on some type of positive outcome that he can use to spin himself as successful. As Paul Waldman writes in The Washington Post, this “demonstrates how important that handshake is for the president, no matter what any agreement does or does not contain.” This suggests Trump needs Kim Jong Un more than Kim needs him.
- Republicans. Republicans hope to have something to point to during the November election, other than tax cuts for the rich.
Regardless, we now seem to be treating North Korea more like an ally than Europe, Canada, NATO, or Japan.
In all likelihood most of the “deal” has already been worked out, as the interests of the dictators involved seems to be increasing their own power and undermining that of our traditional alliances.
What the hell is going on?
That’s a question about this dramatic realignment that no one seems to be talking about. Here are a couple of quick thoughts:
1. Putin has kompromat on Trump, as Christopher Steele outlined in his dossier on Trump. This sounds like a plot out of a fiction novel, but kompromat is a very common tactic in Russian politics. If this is the case, Trump could be attacking our allies because they are Putin’s enemies.
2. Henry Kissinger has outlined a plan for a new “World Order” that seems to fit what Trump is doing. Kissinger believes the new threats are a rising China, the breakdown of Russia-U.S. relations, and deterioration in the Middle East. Some of his recommendations include: 1) aligning with China, and 2) giving Russia the recognition Putin wants. A deal with North Korea where the U.S. steps back as part of the deal would seem to fit some of these ideas.
3. Trump sincerely believes he can get better deals one-on-one with each and every country. Maybe we shouldn’t overthink things here, and this is just Trump believing his own marketing.
Again, regardless of what happens, what’s going on is really radical. None of this was sold to us on the campaign trail. We need to be asking again and again: What the hell is going on? Why is our president attacking our friends and cozying up to North Korean dictators?