President Trump exited the G-7 summit like no president before him, blasting an allied head of state and torpedoing a joint communiqué.
This is not the end of the Western alliance, as some heavy-breathing commentators have declared. The alliance is firmly ensconced in a network of common interests, values, and history — it would take much more than trade disputes and a bad meeting to scuttle it. But Trump’s shots at Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and his general churlishness served no useful end.
We have very little use for Trudeau, that avatar of chic progressivism, or for Trump’s other foil, Angela Merkel, the very embodiment of the short-sighted and high-handed European establishment.
Neither of them have grounds to present themselves as purist defenders of free trade. It’s not just Canada’s protection of its dairy industry, which has gotten attention in recent days, but its subsidies for its aerospace company Bombardier and its drug pricing and patent policies — all of which are significant distortions of the market to suit the country’s perceived economic interests.