Getting together to deal with Trump

How should we react to the constant contradictions and the unpredictability of US President Donald Trump?

The governments of Canada and of the countries of the Caribbean have refrained from trying to fight fire with fire in this unstable era of the Trump presidency.

Isn’t it ironical that our governments’ most effective strategy vis-à-vis the newly installed Trump administration will be one of non-aggression?

In responding to the hyper- aggressiveness of President Trump, one has no doubts about the reason for his excessive confidence. He feels that he can treat other countries as he pleases because his country has the political, military and economic power that, in his opinion, allows him to do so.

Prior to the current situation, during the eight years of the Obama government, there was a high degree of predictability. Our focus was on policy issues: NAFTA, trade in softwood lumber, security, immigration, energy and cross-border pipelines, climate change management, terrorism, globalization, Russia and China.

We got the dirty end of the stick often, but our economic relations with the USA were not an unqualified disaster. Among Canada’s biggest challenges in that regard was the loss of manufacturing facilities to the USA and Mexico, with the consequent reduction in jobs, economic activities and tax revenue. Unemployment and under-employment affected both the low and the middle income segments of our population. Poverty and inequality soared.

As that Obama era was coming to an end, there was a significant dimension added to those political and economic concerns, both in Canada and the USA. Large numbers of private individuals, politicians and interest groups began to spend an enormous amount of time and energy on the scandalously unethical aspects of Donald Trump’s behaviour, first as the campaigning candidate and now as the incumbent President.

And yet, the American people chose to elect Donald Trump. They did so in large part because of their frustration and animosity towards the political establishment, namely the mainstream political parties and politicians. They also rebelled against the wealth and political power of big business, by electing a wealthy businessman who claimed to be independent of the established business and political elites.

Those of us who are not American citizens or residents can continue to support the massive anti-Trump protest movement within the USA that has produced impressive protest demonstrations nationwide. The Women’s March on Washington has been replicated elsewhere in the USA and in dozens of other countries.

So that, while our governments will continue to engage the Trump administration in supposedly cordial but tough negotiations, some commentators are predicting that President Trump will be hamstrung by a huge, long-lasting backlash from civil society within the USA.

Other analysts are going much further. Speculation has been rife that the new President will not serve his full term in office.

One scenario in that speculation is an eventual revolt by the Republican Party, Trump’s own party. This internal crisis may arise from the Party’s rejection of the President’s decision on a domestic issue such as using American money to build the wall on the Mexican border, with the stated intention of seizing Mexican assets to recover the costs. Or it may be over a foreign policy issue such as a US withdrawal from NATO membership.

Another scenario being mentioned is a covert operation by the US military/intelligence establishment to interrupt Trump’s presidency. This option could come to pass if the security community were to be appalled by the President’s decision to intervene or not intervene in a military situation in which Chinese or Russian interests are at play.

However, the most widespread scenario in circulation is impeachment of the President for an ethical or constitutional irregularity. One obvious example can be a conflict of interest issue involving the business dealings of President Trump or a member of his family. Another equally likely situation can arise if the President is accused of overstepping the bounds of his authority under the constitution.

It is often said that the most effective way to “manage” an over-zealous opponent is to give him enough opportunities to self-destruct.

On a more pro-active note, we prefer to advance our interests by advocating for Canada, The Caribbean and the whole of Latin America to put up a united stand. Consultations and joint approaches are far more effective than one-on-one negotiations.

For a start, the recent positive assurances provided to Prime Minister Trudeau and his Cabinet by two members of President Trump’s inner circle should be welcomed with two grains of salt.

A positive relationship between Canada and the USA should not result in Canadian complicity in having Mexico thrown under the NAFTA bus.

We can and must do better than that.