VANCOUVER, British Columbia — U.S. President Donald Trump has decided that the hockey-mad country to the north represents a national security risk.
No, it has nothing to do with some Canadians turning to vigilantism, reportedly harassing the drivers of boats and cars driven by Americans suspected of sneaking across the temporarily closed border amid U.S. coronavirus hysteria. Rather, Trump perceives Canada’s aluminum exports as a threat to national security.
Really? Take off, eh!
Why haven’t we heard from the Pentagon about this so-called Canadian threat? Theoretically, the U.S. military arsenal is compromised by the fact that Canada contributes up to 75% of America’s imported raw aluminum. Is the Pentagon drawing up military options for Trump to address this so-called national security threat right on the U.S. border? Is the Air Force going to bomb Niagara Falls?
Nope. Trump’s national security pretext is nonsense.
Instead of military officials or the national security apparatus speaking out, it’s pencil-pushing, bean-counting government apparatchiks helping Trump ramp up the same tired rhetoric that has manipulated the hoi polloi into believing it’s foreign countries that represent a threat to America rather than homegrown ineptitude.
The problem is that no one in America thinks Canada is a national security threat. As always, it’s really just an excuse for economic protectionism, with the secretary of commerce farcically acting as commanding general for the launch of this new cold war front against the Great White North.
Trump has slapped a 10% tariff on Canadian raw aluminum. In a signed presidential proclamation, he declared: “I concurred in the [secretary of commerce’s] finding that aluminum articles were being imported into the United States in such quantities and under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security of the United States.”
Trump is accusing Canada of weakening America by selling it stuff that it needs in order to produce things that the U.S. sells back to Canadians at a profit. Even more comically, Trump made the tariff announcement while standing in front of boxes full of washing machines at the Whirlpool manufacturing plant in Clyde, Ohio. Each box was labeled “WASHER” in three languages — English, French and Spanish — representing the two official languages of Canada and the official language of the other major North American trade partner of the United States, Mexico.
Know what would be an even bigger threat to America? If Canadians and Mexicans stopped buying those aluminum-based products and U.S. workers lost their jobs — something that might happen when Canada retaliates with dollar-for-dollar countermeasures.
Instead of admitting that Canada is a fierce competitor in the sector and calling for the optimization of U.S. production in order to become less reliant on Canadian sources, Trump chose to punish Canadian competitors for excelling. What happened to free-market and limited-government principles?
Now Canada knows how Russia feels. And China. And Venezuela. And Syria. And Iran. And any other country that the U.S. government has labeled a threat to its national security (and subsequently sanctioned or invaded) because at some point it introduced economic competition that threatened U.S. dominance on the global playing field.
Add Europe to the list as well. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently announced new guidelines that could punish European companies helping to complete Nord Stream 2, a strategic natural gas pipeline running from Russia into Germany, and companies involved in the TurkStream pipeline from Russia to Turkey. Meanwhile, European countries that, like the U.S., signed a deal with Iran to limit its nuclear ambitions in exchange for opening Iranian markets to the West now face U.S. sanctions if they try to engage in commerce with Iran without America’s explicit blessing.
Unfailingly loyal bootlickers and puppets are treated much differently, however. Reports from the Wall Street Journal and New York Times suggest that U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have their own well-developed nuclear programs. As long as these two vassal nations continue to do America’s bidding in the Middle East, they’ll benefit from a double standard, while Iran is punished for maintaining its independence and sovereignty.
For too long, Canada has failed to adequately diversify its economic interests and has taken its relatively easy relationship with the U.S. for granted. It’s long past time for Canada to forge its own trade relationships based on independent foreign policy, just as it once did with Cuba. Perhaps it should even open the door to countries that, like itself, have been labeled a “threat” to U.S. national security.
And then maybe in a few years Canada can do a regime-change kerfuffle on the ice with some hockey sticks and a two-four — eh, Trump? Ya hoser.
Rachel Marsden is a columnist, political strategist and host of an independently produced French-language program that airs on Sputnik France. Her website can be found at www.rachelmarsden.com.