For more than 70 years the “world order” has been anchored by agreements hammered out, mainly to America’s advantage, based on the sense of Franklin D Roosevelt, who felt that (mostly European) imperialism was largely to blame for the situations that culminated in World War II, by Cordell Hull who believed that the fundamental causes of the Second World War lay in economics and, especially, in trade wars, and Harry Dexter White who wanted a world in which the US dollar and New York banks replaced, above all, the British pound and the London banks as the corner stone of global finances. (Whether or not White was Russian spy ~ the evidence seems to suggest that he was ~ is, I think, irrelevant: he was a brilliant economist and and forceful negotiator and, in 1944, Britain was “on the ropes” and White had no difficulty in overwhelming John Maynard Keynes and in steering the Breton Woods, Conference on a course that guaranteed American economic supremacy in the post-war world.) Not even the neo-liberals of e.g. the Project for a New American Century ~ William Kristol, Robert Kagan, Dick Chaney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz ~ wanted to do away with the “world order” established in the mid 1940s; they wanted, in fact, to revive interest in it amongst Americans, especially amongst Republicans, because they thoughts that too many Americans were drifting away from a principled foreign policy that included reliance upon and fair dealings with America’s democratic partners, including Australia, Britain and Canada, who were at the heart of the global Western alliance.
In a column in the Globe and Mail, John Ibittson says that “Donald Trump doesn’t like the Western alliance − for reasons that we must leave to future historians.” Mr Ibbitson concludes his column by saying, and I agree fully, that: “We are still waiting to hear from special counsel Robert Mueller whether Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government actively colluded with people in the Trump campaign to make him president … [but, by golly] … If he did, he got his money’s worth.“
This is what the late President Ronald Regan had to say about trade wars. It is lost on President Trump because, I think, he has little sense of the world beyond the sort of zero sum games he played in boardrooms and bankruptcy courts; The Economist says that “he is willing to inflict harm on his own supporters to get his way. The American market is big, perhaps big enough for a policy of intimidation to work in persuading companies to make things closer to their consumers. But though this might seem to serve the president’s agenda of protecting and repatriating manufacturing jobs, scaring companies away from global supply chains will leave America poorer in the long run.” I think that’s part of the key to President Trump: he must “get his way,” but he isn’t content to just win; a “win-win” deal doesn’t satisfy him, the other ‘player’ must lose. I think he’s tired of being talked at by e.g. Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron Xi Jinping and talked about by others, including Justin Trudeau. He want’s to do something … something that will get him a “win” that he understands. He does not, I think, differentiate a whole lot between Canada and China, or Russia and Rwanda: they are all just foreigners and, most likely, are trying to sneak something, some unfair deal, past the easygoing, ever trusting Americans.
“The bigger question,” The Economist says, “is what the metal tariffs mean for the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which links America, Canada and Mexico together for production of many goods, and which Mr Trump is seeking to renegotiate?” Peter Donolo, a longtime Liberal insider, writing in the Globe and Mail, says that “When someone keeps threatening to smash you, as Donald Trump has since he announced his candidacy for president, it usually pays to take them seriously. Today, even the most committed somnambulist can’t ignore what the U.S. administration has done.” NAFTA, Mr Donolo says, “at least as we know it – is dead.” I agree, for now … but who knows with President Trump; give him a week and, à la North Korea, all may be sweetness and light again … or not.
Mr Donolo says that Canada needs to go back and reconsider Mitchell Sharp’s ‘Third Option,’ which I discussed a few months ago … once again, I agree.
We have the CETA with the EU; the renewed TPP is under negotiation ~ Canada must not screw it up by ‘virtue signalling;’ despite Prime Minister’s Trudeau’s fumble (‘virtue signalling,’ again), we have ongoing trade talks with China; although it may mean eating some crow, we need better trade relations with India; the RCEP, it still seems to me, is the best approach to both China and India; and, of course, I favour a free(er)trade, plus deal with CANZUK+.
Building the Trans Mountain Pipeline extension (TMX) is, I believe, essential to getting China to agree to anything. China wants our oil, all of Asia wants our oil … probably slightly more than we want the revenues from it. China is, very likely the key to expanding into a market that is large enough to offset some of the damage done by President Trump. Many people, especially some Conservatives, are very cautious about free(er) trade with China. They fear, doubtless with good reason, that the Chinese will bully us into a bad deal; I’m sure they will try … but the key to making a good deal is, I think, in the ground in Alberta. I am convinced that China’s appetite for energy will grow, unabated, for another half century and the global supply will dwindle. We may not get everything we hope for from expanding our trade with Asia but if we are nimble and good, hard-nosed, businesslike negotiators ~ no ‘virtue signalling’ about First Nations or feminism with the Chinese ~ then we should get a profitable deal.
The Western alliance, the one that secured world peace and prosperity for 70 years, is almost in tatters as Donald Trump tries to make America into something that it might have been in the late 19th century: a closed, self sufficient society that needed little from the world. But that world ended after the First World War; under (mostly) Britain’s and then America’s leadership we (almost) all globalized (OK, maybe not North Korea or Cuba all that much); American diplomatic, economic and military power underwrote the development of the modern economies of Asia and Europe just as China’s economic muscle is, right now, underwriting African development.
Canada needs, fairly quickly, to regain its place as a leading middle power and a major trading nation. Europe is only one, relatively small part of the puzzle; Asia offers bigger, richer markets and Africa is a prize worth working for. I have banged on and on and on for the past few years about what it takes to be a leading middle power, again, and what it takes to be a free(er) trader. Mainly it takes leadership … and I think that’s lacking right now.
My question for Canadians is: are you ready to leave Canada’s fate, when the West seems to be under attack from within, in the hands of Justin Trudeau and his team of tokens?