Because of its 2014 annexation of Crimea, Russia was suspended from G-8 summits.
The remaining Group of Seven nations aren’t about to boot the United States. But what French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters at a pre-summit meeting of finance leaders is telling.
“What this is going to show is that the United States are alone against everyone and especially alone against their allies,” said Le Maire, who added that the group had basically devolved into a “G-6 plus one.”
Le Maire seemed to be channeling his fellow finance leaders from Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Canada and Japan as they consider Trump administration tariffs on steel and aluminum imports — a policy sparking “unanimous concern and disappointment,” according to a statement from the six non-U. S. finance ministers.
Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso echoed Le Maire when he told reporters, “This doesn’t happen that often at G-7 meetings, but it was the U.S. against everyone else.”
Whether that’s the case Thursday when President Donald Trump arrives in Charlevoix, Quebec, for the annual G-7 Summit remains to be seen. But there’s no doubt that Trump should mend fences after offending fellow heads of state by justifying the tariffs on national security grounds.
Forces from some of these countries have fought and died alongside U.S. troops. “Our absolute view is that this is absurd to think that Canada could in any way be a security risk to the United States,” Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau said at the finance conference.
These same countries may be asked to back the U.S. again — diplomatically, for sure, and potentially even militarily. It’s in America’s national security interest to strengthen U.S. partnerships.
“Our greatest global asset that has really underpinned the last 70 years of prosperity and relative security is our global network of alliances and partnerships that no one else has, and when you do not tend to them in a way that cultivates them and keeps them close to you, you’re going to lose that asset when you really need them,” Barry Pavel, director of the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council, told an editorial writer.
Trump’s approach has been the antithesis to that ethos.
The latest dispute makes it harder for allies to commit to a common approach to China, which presents more profound trade issues. But previous breaches of agreements — including the Iran deal, the Paris climate accord, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and another proposed free-trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership — make future cooperation harder, too.
Trump has positioned these affronts to allies as part of his “America First” foreign policy. But squandering alliances doesn’t prioritize the U.S., it jeopardizes it.