Trump attends a G7 and Gender Equality Advisory Council meeting on 9 June, with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and German Chancellor Angela Merkel Photograph: Yves Herman/ Reuters
Despite personal relations with other leaders being at a level of” 10 out of 10″, he said:” We're like the piggy bank that everybody is robbing … It's going to stop now or we'll stop trading with them[ other nations ].” The tone was that of a man in possession of incontrovertible proof of a decades-long European heist.” The gig is up ,” he said.
If his relationship with Justin Trudeau was at 10 at the summit, it fell to zero when Trump- 30,000 ft up in Air Force One- became infuriated by an account of the Canadian prime minister's closing press conference. In a two-tweet denunciation he accused Trudeau of stimulating false statements, adding he was dishonest and weak, and merely seemed meek and mild. He proclaimed he was un-signing the communique.
His advisers then took the insults to the next level. Larry Kudlow, the president's economic consultant, said Trudeau's comments were” a betrayal” and that he had” stabbed us in the back “. Trump” is not going to let a Canadian prime minister move him around “. Peter Navarro, the president's trade consultant, was even harsher:” There's a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad-faith diplomacy with President Donald J Trump and then may wish to stab him in the back on the way out the door .”
Did Trudeau miscalculate?
Reporters at Trudeau's Saturday press conference, including from the New York Times, thought Trudeau went out of his style to be emollient about Trump, content he had cajoled Trump into signing the joint communique. He understood his role as host and co-ordinator.
In likely his most aggressive statement, he said Canada was not going to be pushed around, and added he found it “insulting” that the US had justified extra tariffs on Canada by labelling its neighbour and military friend a security danger. Trump took this as evidence that Trudeau was two-faced. His decision, presumably, is that his political base cannot get enough of the chairman” standing up for America “.
Does Trump have a point about Canada and the EU?
US tariffs are lower than those of the EU and Canada but the difference is marginal. WTO statistics show that the EU's average trade-weighted tariff was 3% in 2015, the latest year for which this figure was available. Canada's median trade-weighted tariff was 3.1% compared with 2.4% for the US.
The US also has a trade surplus with Canada. At best, Trump is being pointlessly selective with his facts, dismissing the complex trade-offs, and taking no account of how his own policies feed a US consumer boom.
What are the wider implications?
The US and the EU have had innumerable previous rows about trade, but right now on climate change, Iran, Nato, Russia and trade, the president is willing not just to differ with the rest of the west, but to challenge and undermine it.
A horrified European political establishment sees Trump, like Vladimir Putin, backing the populists of Europe, especially in eastern Europe, Austria and Italy. These are forces-out that threaten the liberal order in a manner that is that Emmanuel Macron, Theresa May and Angela Merkel are merely beginning to understand.
The former UK Foreign Office permanent secretary Simon Fraser for instance sounded genuinely alarmed when he tweeted:” Conventional wisdom is that Trump is a blip& normal service will one day be resumed. This is too complacent. The deeper, even more worrying question: are US values, priorities& interests basically diverging from Europe? We should be seriously worried by what has just happened in G7 .”
The Europeans' answer lies in managing Trump, including at the imminent Nato summit, but also strengthening Europe's economic and security independence. But these are painstaking undertakings, necessitating long talks between German and French ministers of finance, and discussion of a new European strategic defence culture.