Welcome to the end of American exceptionalism

Welcome to the end of American exceptionalism
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Foreign policy experts are still picking their jaws off the floor after President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE’s gauche performance last weekend in which he insulted our closest allies at the Group of Seven (G-7) Summit in Quebec.

Tensions were already high, as Trump has prompted an unprecedented trade war with our friends a few weeks ago. By citing bogus and incorrect claims of national security, Trump imposed unnecessary and detrimental tariffs (to the U.S.) on steel and aluminum coming from our closest trading partners — Canada, Mexico and the EU.

As expected, these countries are now retaliating with tariffs of their own that will hurt U.S. farmers, manufacturers and blue-collar workers, the same people who voted for Trump.


At the G-7, in addition to the ongoing tensions, we saw a new level of “Trumpitude,” the end of American exceptionalism and the dawn of Trump’s new trade doctrine, “Tantrumism”: the formulation of international trade policy based on the commander in chief’s latest emotional outburst due to perceived slights and made-up grievances.


After Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood up for his nation, defended its positions on trade with the U.S. and stated that Canada will not be pushed around, Trump reportedly became enraged.

He tweeted that the Canadian PM was “dishonest and weak” and directed his envoys not to agree to the final communique that normally is released at the end of these multilateral meetings.

Trump also directed his minions to insult the PM by stating that "there's a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door," as White House National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro said on "Fox News Sunday."

By any reasonable measure, the administration’s actions were part of a complete scorched-earth approach that was unbalanced and irrational and will only worsen an already frayed relationship with Canada.

Trump and his surrogates have trumpeted the myth that we have a trade deficit with Canada. That is simply not true. Trump’s own Office of the Trade Representative negates his bald-faced lie. The U.S. government agency said U.S. had a $12.5 billion trade surplus for goods and services in 2016, exporting $320.1 billion and importing $307.6 billion.

Singling out specific goods, such as dairy, and saying Canada has much higher tariffs on these goods than we do, is dishonest and does not reflect the whole picture. The United States has very high tariffs on other products: 350 percent on smoking tobacco, 130 percent on peanuts and 99 percent on prepared groundnuts.

Thus, it works both ways. That is why the overall number is used — to see the bigger picture.

Is trade with Canada perfect? Of course not; that does not exist. And we should always be looking for better deals for our workers, consumers and manufacturers in our trade deals.

But this is not the way to go about it.

Spreading lies and maligning and insulting our allies at a crucial moment when we need them most is not smart, will not make us safer and does not makes us more exceptional. In fact, completely the opposite is true, especially when we are treating our Canadian brothers and sisters like pariahs after we’ve had each other’s backs for decades.

Canadians have fought and died in nearly every war alongside U.S. troops. They welcomed stranded U.S. travelers after the 9/11 attacks; they share the longest undefended border with the U.S.; and they have been our allies in the modern global security apparatus that Trump now wants to blow up.

Compare his treatment of our Canadian allies to his treatment of Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un, two of the world’s most brutal dictators who have killed dissidents and imprisoned political opponents. Trump goes to bat for Putin at the G-7, saying Russia should be let back in, and he is giddy with excitement for a first-ever meeting with Kim John Un that will only legitimize the hermit strong man.

I ask again, as I do after every misstep Trump takes at home or abroad: Where are Republicans? Where are their spines, as he trashes American values abroad and re-writes Republicanism for the worse at home? Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump hits McCain on ObamaCare vote GOP, White House start playing midterm blame game Arizona race becomes Senate GOP’s ‘firewall’ MORE (R-Ariz.) is the only one who stands against Trump. He has said boldly that America stands with Canada, even as Trump does not.

Welcome to Trump’s new GOP, I guess. But even more frightening, welcome to Trump’s new America. Welcome to the end of American exceptionalism and the rise of Trump’s trade Tantrumism.

God help us.

Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.