Putin’s puppet pays off big at the ‘G6 Plus One’ Summit

Russia’s Vladimir Putin is laughing today at his unimaginable success in undermining America’s role as the leader of the post-war economic order of the liberal western democracies, and undermining the European Union and the Western alliance (and NATO). Putin’s puppet, Donald Trump, the president of the United States, is doing his bidding for him.

What was the G8 Summit until Russia was kicked out after its annexation of Crimea, became the G7 Summit. With Putin’s puppet Donald Trump doing his bidding, it has now become the “G6 plus one” Summit: Allies’ frustration with U.S. mounts ahead of G7 summit:

President Trump is expecting tough talks with U.S. allies Canada, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, and Japan at the G7 summit Friday. Relations are tense after the president put new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from the European Union, Mexico, and Canada. Those nations are threatening new tariffs of their own on U.S. goods. President Trump tweeted Friday morning: “Looking forward to straightening out unfair Trade Deals with the G-7 countries. If it doesn’t happen, we come out even better!”

Mr. Trump’s “America first” mantra has led to policy decisions that have angered U.S. allies. G7 finance ministers met ahead of the summit and described the group as “G6 plus one,” with the U.S. in the rare role of an outlier.

On the eve of the summit, Mr. Trump said little about his goals, but had messages for two of the leaders he plans to meet with. He tweeted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “is being so indignant” and slammed both Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron for their [retaliatory] tariffs on the U.S.

Macron and Trudeau said they would not back down to Mr. Trump who says his administration’s recently imposed tariffs will help keep the U.S. safe.

“It is laughable”, Prime Minister Trudeau said, “To say that Canada, France represent a threat to America’s national security.”

The G7 summit typically concludes with all seven leaders signing a joint communique but there’s a chance that won’t happen. President Macron tweeted the other six leaders wouldn’t mind signing one without the U.S.

Leaving no doubt whose interests he actually represents, this morning Trump calls for Russia to be reinstated to G-7, threatens allies on trade:

President Trump said Friday that Russia should be readmitted to the Group of Seven club of industrial economies four years after its expulsion over the annexation of Crimea, further provoking U.S. allies outraged or unnerved by Trump’s swerve to trade protectionism.

Trump lobbed what amounted to a diplomatic stink bomb as he left the White House for the annual two-day G-7 summit, where he arrived late and planned to leave early.

Trump said he knows such outreach to Russia may not be “politically correct,” and he appeared to dismiss G-7 members’ anger and hurt feelings over what they call unfair trade barriers and ingratitude from Washington.

“All of these countries have been taking advantage of the United States on trade,” Trump said, citing Canadian dairy tariffs.

“We have massive trade deficits with almost every country. We will straighten that out,” Trump said[.]

* * *

Trump did appear to get along with the other leaders when he finally arrived in this sparkling resort town on the St. Lawrence River. He arrived too late for a scheduled sit-down meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, who has been one of Trump’s toughest critics on trade over the past few weeks.

Trump’s comments on Russia, however, were a repudiation of the position the G-7 took in 2014 to exclude Russia because of what the remaining members called the illegitimate annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

“Now, I love our country. I have been Russia’s worst nightmare” (sic), Trump said in Washington. “But with that being said, Russia should be in this meeting.

“Whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run . . . . They should let Russia come back in.”

Most other members of the G-7, including the leaders of the United Kingdom, Germany and France, are unlikely to agree to Trump’s call for readmitting Russia, meaning the suggestion could further divide the group and make it even more ineffectual.

* * *

Trump has sought to improve relations between the United States and Russia since taking office, though he has faced steep criticism from lawmakers in both parties for doing so. The U.S. government and other nations have imposed strict sanctions on Russia over Crimea.

U.S. intelligence agencies have said they have “high confidence” that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, and part of this year’s G-7 summit was supposed to focus on protecting democracies from foreign meddling.

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is investigating Russian interference efforts, including whether Trump’s campaign colluded in any way with Russian officials, a probe that has become an obsession for the president.

Trump’s suggestion that Russia be readmitted to the G-7 was heavily criticized by political opponents back home, including Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who said Trump was “turning our foreign policy into an international joke.”

“We need the president to be able to distinguish between our allies and adversaries, and to treat each accordingly,” Schumer said. “On issue after issue, he’s failed to do that.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) issued a statement saying that “Vladimir Putin chose to make Russia unworthy of membership in the G-8 by invading Ukraine and annexing Crimea. Nothing he has done since then has changed that most obvious fact.”

McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was among the first lawmakers to call for Russia’s ejection from what was then the G-8.

Trump effectively upended this year’s G-7 summit even before it began by raising the prospect of refusing to sign on to a joint statement with other leaders asserting commonly shared principles and values.

In the past several months, Trump has pushed to completely overturn many of the post-World War II institutions put in place to strengthen global ties. These tensions have created immense strain ahead of the summit in Canada, with top leaders questioning if they are in the midst of a transformational disruption brought on by the United States.

“The rules-based international order is being challenged,” European Commission President Donald Tusk told reporters here. “Quite surprisingly, not by the usual suspects but by its main architect and guarantor, the U.S. … We will not stop trying to convince our American friends and President Trump that undermining this order makes no sense at all.”

* * *

Trump on Friday also reiterated his plans to take a tough stance on trade with U.S. allies at the summit, threatening again to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“We have to change it, and they understand it’s going to happen,” Trump said. “If we’re unable to make a deal, we’ll terminate NAFTA. We’ll make a better deal.”

The comments marked the latest in declarations in recent days that have completely redirected the focus the G-7, an organization Trump has shown little regard for since taking office last year.

In an earlier Twitter post, Trump said the United States would emerge victorious if other nations refused to accede to his trade demands, suggesting that he plans to employ a take-it-or-leave-it bargaining position with other world leaders at the summit here.

“Looking forward to straightening out unfair Trade Deals with the G-7 countries,” Trump wrote. “If it doesn’t happen, we come out even better!”

* * *

Trump is now engaged in trade wars with numerous countries in Europe, North America and Asia, which could affect the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars in goods, including automobiles, agricultural products and technology. He wants Europe and Japan to lower tariffs on imports of automobiles. He wants China to buy more agriculture and energy products from the United States. See, U.S.-China Trade Talks End in an Impasse. He is pushing Mexican leaders for a range of changes to NAFTA, and he wants that entire pact to expire after five years. See, NAFTA on the brink as Trump fights with Mexico, Canada.

His view is that other countries have imposed unfair tariffs limiting U.S. imports for decades but that the United States has unwittingly allowed those countries to bring low-cost goods into the country, hurting American companies and workers.

Foreign leaders are aware of the shaky ground Trump is on when he levels these trade threats, as a growing number of congressional Republicans have expressed outrage, and some are trying to intervene to strip away his powers. See, Free-trade Republican lawmakers mount revolt against Trump tariffs. So far, Trump has held these lawmakers, including Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), at bay, but U.S. business groups — worried about the prospect of higher costs driven by Trump’s trade threats — are pushing Congress to act.

Trump is prepared to undo 70 years of painstaking, U.S.-led efforts to build a global trade system of mutually accepted rules and principles. Trump thinks he’s saving trade. The rest of the world thinks he’s blowing it up.

White House Analysis Finds Tariffs Will Hurt Growth, as Officials Insist Otherwise: A White House economic analysis of President Trump’s trade agenda has concluded that Mr. Trump’s tariffs will hurt economic growth in the United States.

The findings from the White House Council of Economic Advisers have been circulated only internally and not publicly released, as is often the case with the council’s work, making the exact economic projections unknown. But the determination comes as top White House officials continue to insist publicly that Mr. Trump’s trade approach will be “massively good for the U.S. economy.”

The Kremlin, meanwhile, appears to be enjoying an “I told you so” moment as it watches Trump’s escalating conflict with America’s closest allies. Putin has long spoken about the dangers of a world dominated by the United States, and on Thursday, he said that with Trump’s metals tariffs, Europeans were getting their comeuppance for showing excessive deference to Washington — and getting a taste of the way the United States has long treated Russia.

“Our partners probably thought that these counterproductive policies would never affect them,” Putin said in his annual televised call-in show. “No one wanted to listen, and no one wanted to do anything to stop these tendencies. Here we are.”

Vladimir Putin certainly got his money’s worth with his puppet Donald Trump and Trump’s spineless fellow travelers in the Republican Congress.

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