Friday, 16 March 2018

Wages of Deficit

I have in the past noted that Donald Trump is a compulsive liar. He lies about the most inane things and is almost ridiculously blase about it. The most recent, which hits close to home and may have a direct impact on my country, is his claims regarding the trade deficit with Canada. The reports seem to indicate that Trump not only made up a spurious fact regarding his own nation's trade deficit with mine, but that he simply did not know, or care to know, what the actual state of affairs was. This despite now for over two years making broad sweeping statements at rallies, on Twitter, and in interviews, regarding the supposed "unfairness" of foreign trade with the United States.

While I have made no secret of my dislike for Donald Trump as an individual, I must ask, how can Trump expect international observers to take him seriously? How can foreign leaders expect Trump to negotiate in good faith with them?

The simple answer is, they can't. Trump will not, and does not, work in good faith either with members of his own administration or international leaders who are his allies. The man seems incapable of either being honest, or even doing rudimentary research into the effects of his own policies, or the ground which they are supposed to stand on when debated by policy makers.

What is baffling, utterly baffling, about this recent exchange, is that the lie makes no sense. In no circumstances does it even seem reasonable. Its not compelling fodder for a political campaign, it isn't a reasonable position to remain in ignorance of, and it isn't even a clever negotiating tactic considering how easy it is to disprove. He just bluntly said this to a foreign leader, and his countries closest neighbor and ally, and had it easily disproved.

He then waffled on whether he was wrong by stating that "almost all" countries have a trade deficit with the US, even though that specific statement was wrong. This isn't the first time Trump has made this claim, but it was the first time he was so bluntly called on it while talking to the head of state of the nation he's been misrepresenting like this.

The short term damage is repairable, as a new blunder from the Trump White House happens nearly weekly, but in terms of renegotiating NAFTA as he wants in the long term, it is iffy any other leader will see him as negotiating in good faith or reasonably. He's just sacked his Secretary of State, has been caught totally making something up and blithely continued with it, and seems utterly unwilling to compromise on his mistake. That is not a recipe for creating a sense of good will or confidence with any of the NAFTA partners, who may be better served simply waiting out any attempts at negotiation he proposes.

For other world leaders, it should simply be taken as Gospel that Trump has no clue what he is talking about, and that his representatives don't even represent his views to the world. The unfortunate effect this may have on his foreign policy remains to be seen, but I can only repeat something I have said before, Donald Trump cannot be trusted.

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