First, let’s look at what happened – and did not happen – in Quebec. The failure of the summit was foreshadowed by three events – although the media could only see two.
The most significant event was President Trump’s announcement of planned tariffs on a number of nations that are traditionally thought of as allies – and they are. On this point, the chicken littles on the left have accused Trump of shattering our alliances across the globe. That not only had not happened, it would be virtually impossible. Our alliances depend on mutual benefits across a broad range of economic, social, cultural and, above all, military defense issues.
In terms of the European and NATO nations, the United States is essential to their security. That is why we still pay a disproportionate share of their defense and why we have bases in those nations for their protection – and which also contribute significantly to the local economies. We do not have German or French bases in California or New York to protect our national security.
Yes, Trump is invoking a little pain on our allies. They do not want to give up the special trade advantages that they have enjoyed for generations – and which past American presidents have allowed to remain in place.
What the left and the #NeverTrump media ignore are the hard facts. These nations have imposed rather high tariffs on certain categories or American goods. If there is any basis for a trade war, that is the cause. Trump is not pushing for tariffs or a trade war, he is pushing for freer trade.
As is so typical of the left, they criticize Trump’s actions without offering any solutions. Do they just wish to continue to allow even our allies to impose high tariffs? What would they do about it? Apparently, the mantra of endless toothless negotiations has not worked. So, what is the plan?
The second issue that caused ripples in Quebec was Trump’s off-hand suggestion that Russia should be re-admitted into the G7. Of course, there was not a chance in hell that the other six nations were going to even consider that. It was not a good move on Trump’s part for a couple reasons.
There is a good reason why Russia was booted from the old G8. They invaded and seized the Crimea. This was a nominal response, but not much more could be done in view of President Obama’s condemnations that lacked any retaliatory actions. And most importantly, Putin has done nothing since seizing the Crimea that suggests he is no longer a bad actor on the world stage.
The Russian suggestion only gave the anti-Trump forces another reason to bring up the old canard that he is soft on Russia. Once again, the totally irresponsible suggestion that “Putin must have something on Trump” has arisen from the cesspool of phony partisan narratives.
The third reason the G7 summit was not terribly successful – the one totally missed by the media analysts -- is because there rarely is anything that comes from these meetings other than rhetoric. The communications and actions that occur through our alliance agencies and bilaterally in between these G7 summits are far more important than what has become a symbolic photo op followed by statements of long held general principles. The opening sentence of the Communique says it all.
“We, the Leaders of the G7, have come together in Charlevoix. Canada on June 8-9, 2018, guided by our shared values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and our commitment to promote a rules-based international order.”
Everything else in the Communique was preceded by “we will work to (fill in the blank).” The blanks were just pledges to work on every problem they perceived in today’s world – something we may have assumed they were doing on a day-to-day basis anyway.
The Communique also noted specific problems in the world to be addressed, calling on Russia, North Korea, Iran and other bad-actor nations to stop doing what they are doing, but there were no harsh consequences – no definitive retaliatory actions -- contained in the Communique.
At the hallowed ground of Gettysburg, President Lincoln modestly said, "the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here." Lincoln was wrong. The Quebec Communique will hardly be noted and quickly forgotten like all those past communiques.
As we have come to expect, the reports of the eastern elitist press have been rather condemnatory of President Trump and the American administration. They give hyperbolic importance to his planned early departure, his arriving a few minutes late for a meaningless breakfast and what psychological secrets they can divine from casual snapshots. Almost no attention to the specifics of the trade imbalances that have Trump calling for reciprocal actions by the United States. Did you get that word, “reciprocal?”
Watching the opinion-driven so-called news media is a bit like having sportscasters talking all about the players’ personalities, shoe sizes or last week’s performances while ignoring play-by-play coverage.
And now on to Singapore.
This is where the news reporters, anchors, pundits and contributors (of limited contribution, I should add) turn to what I call “horoscope journalism.” This is where they peer into their crystal balls to spin the future as if they really know. Note, I did not say “predict.” That would suggest too much accuracy. No! Their vision of the future is impacted by the same biases and the same isolating bubble in which they reside. It prevents them from seeing or hearing anything but their own mirrored images and their own echoes.
This propensity has fully flowered in the reporting on the upcoming meeting with Kim Jong-un. The left-wing narratives going into the summit are predicated on one BIG false assumption – that Trump does not know what he is doing. As the media drumbeat goes … he refuses to get prepared. He only operates on knee-jerk gut instincts. He does not know that the North Korean leadership cannot be trusted. He is too anxious to make a deal. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Nothing will disappoint the left and their media buddies more than a success in Pyongyang. They are hoping their predictions of failure will become self-proving prophecies. If they cannot find failure, they hope to at least find something that they can spin as a failure.
Keep in mind what Trump has said repeatedly. There are no guarantees. He will walk away from a bad deal – and that puts the military option on the front burner. The old-guard peace-at-any-cost (even if it leads to war later on) establishment types shudder every time there is a credible threat of military action as a necessary last resort. They seem not to be able to grasp that Trump’s credible threat is what brought Kim to the table – just as Reagan’s backed down Libyan terrorism and Syrian expansionism and brought down the old Soviet Union. Trump has said that this is only the first step in a longer process, so we should not expect everything to be settled in a few hours in Singapore.
The left goes so far as to say that Trump has already lost the summit because he is giving Kim “everything he ever wanted” – to stand side-by-side with the most powerful leader in the world. That may be a good photo for Kim’s scrapbook and may play well to the oppressed folks back home, but it gains him nothing on the world stage. Kim leads a repressive, isolated and impoverished nation -- and unless he denuclearizes, no photo op will change that.
The false narrative that Trump is not going to be prepared for this meeting is also utter nonsense. No, it is worse. It is dishonest reporting that is designed to disparage Trump even at the cost of damaging the efforts to achieve progress in the talks. Trump and his team --his White House advisors, the heads of the intelligence agencies, the Secretaries of State and Defense and many others have been working on the negotiations for weeks.
In terms of the outcome of the talks with Kim, it is best to let the criticism rest and follow Trump’s oft-stated admonition, “We’ll just have to see.”
Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and political issues. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, and he has served as a consultant to the White House under Presidents Nixon and Reagan. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress and lectured at Harvard University, Northwestern University, Florida Atlantic University, Knox College and Hope College. An award winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.