Republicans and Democrats are befuddled by President Trump’s attacks on Canada and Prime Minister Trudeau; his repudiation of NAFTA; the bilateral agreement with Mexico; tariffs, trade quotas and threats of trade constraints of billions more to come.
Many are the experts, political leaders and media commentators who have offered a variety of explanations. The most frequent explanation is that the White House is pursuing a nationalist – protectionist policy to weaken and dominate Canada and to increase the US competitive position.
The problem with that argument is that for the better part of a century Canada has followed US imperialism in global and regional wars and interventions on four continents – even where Ottawa has paid a high military, financial, political and human cost. Canada has always been considered a bulwark of the US led NATO alliance, a reliable trading partner and staunch defender of cross border controls.
Trump critics attribute his hostility to his unruly, impulsive and unstable temperament which blocks him from an understanding the ongoing historical legacy. Paramount long-term links are sacrificed for short-term economic gains according to some academics.
Most senior diplomats, accustomed to friendly negotiations, have privately expressed objections to Trump’s ultimatums and his effort to brow-beat Canada into submission, believing that a few genial tweaks over a re-packaged NAFTA would secure Canadian compliance and submission.
Yet Trump refuses to accept Canada’s partial submission to a modified NAFTA. Apparently, Trump is after long-term, large scale changes which will have a major political, economic and social impact on the US competitive position in the world economy.