The Trump administration said on Monday that it would delay a decision to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, Canada and Mexico for another 30 days, giving key allies a reprieve as the White House tries to extract concessions from trading partners who have resisted those demands.
That Trump is quite the steely-eyed negotiator, isn’t he? Check out the timeline here:
- Despite the fact that even Trump’s hardnosed China hawks are urging some caution on tariffs, Trump gets tired of being hemmed in by “arguments” and “facts.” So he bulls ahead on his own and announces whopping steel and aluminum tariffs out of the blue.
- Of course, it turns out that China isn’t really a big supplier of either steel or aluminum to the United States. The tariffs mostly hit Canada, Europe, Mexico, and other friends and allies.
- So Trump caves and announces a 30-day exemption for countries he likes.
- After the 30 days are up, everyone is still pissed. So he announces another 30-day exemption. Now everyone’s confused and has no idea what to expect next.
And that brings us up to date. So what does Trump do next? Just keep announcing 30-day exemptions? Quietly drop the whole thing on some day when there’s other big news happening? Go into a temper tantrum about something or other and just let the tariffs hit everyone, friendly or not? Who knows?
Do you remember back when conservatives were all over Obama about how our allies couldn’t trust us anymore? (I never totally understood that except in the case where “allies” equals “Israel,” but never mind. That’s what they were saying back then.) Well, how about Trump? He blew up the TPP on his first day in office. He blew up the Paris Treaty. He keeps threatening to blow up the Iran treaty. And NAFTA. He’s taken considerable pleasure in hinting that he doesn’t think much of NATO. He’s idiotically leaked intel from Britain and passed along Israeli intel to the Russian amabassador. He’s pissed off Mexico by continuing to insist that they pay for his wall. He’s pissed off Australia by trying to wriggle out of a refugee deal. On a momentary whim, he announced walloping tariffs on some of our very closest allies. Then he confused everyone by temporarily delaying the tariffs—but pointedly refusing to exempt Japan. There’s hardly a friendly country in the world who knows where we stand anymore or whether we care one whit about them.
Can we please have this talk about how America treats its allies again? This time I think we really need it.