In his first week he withdrew from the unratified 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership. He prepared to pull out of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (Korus) and the North American Free Trade Agreement. Earlier this year he imposed steep tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, using a little-used national security law, and threatened the same for autos.
Today, Korus and Nafta have been replaced by updated agreements(one not yet ratified) that look much like the originals. South Korea accepted quotas on steel. Mexico and Canada agreed to higher wages, North American content requirements and quotas for autos.
These represent a step back from free trade toward managed trade, but they will have little practical effect: The limits on how many cars Mexico and Canada can ship duty-free to the U.S., for example, exceed current shipments. Mr. Trump hasn’t stopped threatening auto tariffs, but for now his officials have elected instead to seek broader tariff reductions with Japan and the European Union.
.. Meanwhile, the U.S. trade deficit that incenses Mr. Trump has grown during his presidency, especially with China and Mexico, as a strong American economy sucks in imports. His exhortations to manufacturers to bring jobs back to the U.S. have largely fallen on deaf ears.
American officials have often insisted on seeing Turkey, a NATO ally since 1952, as a close partner, which is why the recent fallout seems so shocking. Don’t these two countries share interests and values?
Not really. When you strip away all the happy talk, it’s clear the two nations aren’t really, and have never been, that close. This is a relationship doomed to antipathy.
Alliances are never perfect, of course, and there have been moments over the past seven decades that justify Turkey’s image as a close partner of the United States: President Turgut Ozal shut down pipelines carrying Iraqi oil through Turkey during the run-up to the Gulf War, at great cost to the Turkish economy, for instance. A decade later, the Turkish government was among the first to condemn the 9/11 terrorist attacks and quickly committed troops to Afghanistan. Turkey became an important and valued component of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in that country.
By that time, American officials had become accustomed to seeing Turkey as a partner, like their closest allies in Europe and East Asia. The country’s failure to live up to this role reveals more about our own desperation for Turkey to be something it isn’t, and about Cold War strategies, than about Turkish shortcomings.
.. In the decades since the Cold War ended, problems between the United States and Turkey have piled up, but Washington and Ankara no longer share a threat that mitigates these differences.
.. In 2016, Erdogan threatened to allow tens of thousands of refugees to enter Europe, apparentlybecause of suspended talks on Turkey’s European Union membership. “You did not keep your word,” he said in a speech in Istanbul. The threat, repeated months later by Turkey’s interior minister, stoked fears in Europe and the United States that such a move — intended or otherwise — would help further empower populist, nationalist and racist political forces already roiling the politics and potentially the stability of the E.U., a core strategic interest of the United States.
.. The danger from Moscow no longer justifies overlooking these significant differences in priorities. In fact, the Turkish government is buying an air defense system from the Russians that could provide Moscow with information about the American F-35 fighter jet, the newest high-tech plane in the U.S. arsenal, which Turkey also plans to fly. Under these circumstances, lamenting the end of our partnership with Turkey seems absurd.
.. A staggering number of Turks believe that Washington was complicit in the attempted 2016 coup d’etat. One poll conducted online in 2016 by a Turkish newspaper found that almost 7 in 10 Turks blamed the CIA. This patently false idea (which Erdogan and other officials have nurtured) along with Trump’s tweet makes Erdogan’s latest accusation that the United States is attempting an economic coup all the more plausible to the Turkish public.
.. The speed with which relations deteriorated after the deal to free the clergyman imploded highlights a relationship marked by frustration and mistrust, not common aims. It is no wonder the Turks seldom, if ever, defend their relationship with Washington. They believe America seeks to do them harm.
By keeping trading partners guessing, the president has sought to create leverage in trade negotiations, including in talks over the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada. But in the process, he has sowed an atmosphere of chaos among allies as well as manufacturers uncertain about the ultimate impact on their vast supply chains.
.. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada said it was “inconceivable” that Canada “could be considered a national security threat.”
.. “For the first time in generations, we’ve really thrown out the rule book with our best trading partners,” said Rufus Yerxa, the president of the National Foreign Trade Council, which represents some of the largest exporters in the United States. “We can’t expect them to continue business as usual with us if we are throwing out the rules. So that means everything from airplanes to agriculture is on the chopping block.”.. But Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday phoned to tell the Canadian prime minister that the precondition of a deal was a sunset clause, meaning the pact would automatically expire unless the three countries voted to continue it. The idea has drawn ire from both foreign leaders and business executives, who say it undercuts the surety that trade agreements are meant to create.“I had to highlight that there was no possibility of any Canadian prime minister signing a Nafta deal that included a five-year sunset clause,” said Mr. Trudeau, “and obviously the visit didn’t happen.”.. Germany, in particular, had pressed for a negotiated solution, but officials there grew wary after Mr. Trump announced that he would begin a separate trade investigation into automotive imports. If car tariffs go into effect, they would especially hurt Germany’s economy... The Trump administration has argued that imports have weakened the country’s industrial base, and, by extension, its ability to produce tanks, weapons and armored vehicles. “We take the view that without a strong economy, you can’t have strong national security,” the commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, said Thursday... The European Union and Canada have objected strongly to the idea that they pose any kind of threat to national security, citing their close alliances and defense agreements with the United States... Canada announced corresponding tariffs on a broad list of American exports, including steel and aluminum, as well as dozens of basic consumer products like ketchup, insecticides and laundry machines. The Canadian tariffs, which go into effect July 1,.. The United Steelworkers union, which represents members in Canada as well as the United States, said the decision called “into serious question” the design and direction of the administration’s trade strategy.
.. The Aluminum Association, the industry trade group, also said it was disappointed. Heidi Brock, the group’s president, said the tariffs would do little to address the larger issue of overcapacity in China “while potentially alienating allies and disrupting supply chains that more than 97 percent of U.S. aluminum industry jobs rely upon.”
.. “These tariffs are hitting the wrong target,” said Representative Kevin Brady, Republican of Texas. “When it comes to unfairly traded steel and aluminum, Mexico, Canada and Europe are not the problem — China is.”
.. In a more pointed statement, Senator Ben Sasse, Republican of Nebraska, called the tariffs “dumb.”
“Europe, Canada and Mexico are not China, and you don’t treat allies the same way you treat opponents,” he said.
Historically, America’s strategic advantage over China lay in our combination of reliability, likability and preponderant military and economic strength. We were friendly. We dealt squarely. We were the future.
But America’s naval mastery in Asia is increasingly in doubt. The United States withdrawal from the TPP creates a trade void for China to fill. As for square dealing, one of the reasons Trump’s truculent January phone call with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull so shocked Australians is that the American president appeared to renege on Barack Obama’s pledge to resettle 1,250 refugees held in Australian detention centers. It was only this week that the United States took in the first 54.
.. Michael Fullilove, makes the point that Australia “needs to prosecute a larger foreign policy,” not least by drawing closer to Asia’s other democracies as “an important hedge against the dual hazards of a reckless China and a feckless United States.” That’s smart policy for Australia — and sad comment on how our friends see us in the age of Trump.