President Trump and North Korean autocrat Kim Jong Un have arrived in Singapore ahead of the big show — an unprecedented meeting between Washington and Pyongyang’s leaders that could, if things go well, pave the way for a historic rapprochement and the eventual end of the last major frozen conflict of the Cold War.
But while their Tuesday summit is this week’s headline event, the opening act left many observers fearing the worst.
Trump’s two-day stop in Quebec for a meeting with the leaders of the Group of Seven industrial nations was exactly the fiasco many feared. On Friday, Trump told reporters that Russia should be welcomed back into the group, which ejected Moscow after its 2014 annexation of Crimea. On Saturday evening, after leaving early to head to Singapore, Trump said he was pulling out of the summit’s joint communique because of comments by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
According to accounts of the G-7 meeting, officials from other members of the bloc confronted Trump with a torrent of statistics about the importance of the U.S.-authored international order and the merits of free trade. They watered down the joint communique — scaling back comments on issues of climate and other concerns of the liberal order — in a bid to get Trump on board. But after briefly relenting, he shrugged off these many facts in favor of his feelings, sticking to his protectionist instincts.
A host of analysts argued that Trump’s view of global trade (and posturing over Canada’s own tariffs) was both misguided and ahistorical. “Right now, the level of tariffs on trade in goods around the world is lower than it has been for 150 years,” said Adam Posen, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, to the Financial Times, “and that is due to the path of U.S. policy over the last 75 years.”