The Trump administration has gone on a strange anti-Canadian kick after the G7 summit, with the president tweeting that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is “very dishonest & weak.” As New York Times reporter Michael Shear noted, Trump’s harsh words are at odd with Trudeau’s attempt to be conciliatory at the summit:
Interviewed on CNN, Trump’s chief economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, made clear that bashing Canada was really about impressing North Korea. “He really kind of stabbed us in the back,” Kudlow told CNN. “He really, actually, you know: he did a great disservice to the whole G-7. He betrayed.”
But Kudlow made clear that the real motive for the spat is North Korea.
“Now, POTUS is not gonna let a Canadian prime minister push him around, push him, POTUS, around, President Trump, on the eve of this—he is not going to permit any show of weakness on a trip to negotiate with North Korea,” Kudlow said. “Kim must not see American weakness. It’s that short.” Kudlow added that Trudeau was “pouring collateral damage on this whole Korean trip, that was a part of Trudeau’s mistake. Trudeau made an error, he should take it back, he should pull back on his statements.”
Attacking Canada as a way to impress Kim Jong Un is, to put it mildly, a bizarre strategy. After all, the conflicts with Canada and North Korea are not commensurate. Canada is a longstanding ally and America’s biggest trading partner that, at worst, has created hurdles for the sale of America lumber and milk. North Korea is a country that America has technically been at war with for nearly 70 years and has threatened to nuke America and its Asian allies. In what way would bluster against Canada impress Kim Jong Un at all or even register as something worthy of notice?