Saturday, June 9, 2018
Just hours after G7 leaders had seemingly found common ground on "rules based trade," US President Trump refused to endorse a joint communique. The leaders leave the summit with a threat of a trade war looming.
Leaders of the G7 appeared to have agreed on a final communique at the end of a contentious two-day summit in Canada on Saturday, before US President Donald Trump lashed out at Canada and created further uncertainty over trade.
The summit between the United States Germany, France, Japan, Canada, Britain and Italy was one of the most fractious ever and the agreement on a final communique couldn't paper over differences on trade, the environment and Iran nuclear deal.
Despite Trump's recent decision to slap aluminum and steel tariffs on America's allies, the statement at the conclusion of the summit called for the "free, fair, and mutually beneficial trade," fighting protectionism and "the crucial role of a rules-based international trading system."
Yet a deep rift was highlighted as host Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ended the summit by saying he would move forward with retaliatory tariffs against the United States starting on July 1. He called US tariffs on its ally under the pretext of national security "kind of insulting" and said Canada would not be "pushed around."
"What we did this weekend was come together, roll up our sleeves and figure out a consensus language that we could all agree to," Trudeau said at a press conference, recognizing that there were major differences with Trump. "If the expectation was that a weekend in beautiful Charlevoix surrounded by lovely people was going to transform the president's outlook on trade and the world, then we didn't quite perhaps meet that bar" ]
Only hours later Trump took to Twitter to assault the Canadian prime minister's "false statements" and instructed US representatives to renege on the US endorsement of the joint communique. He also said he would be looking to impose tariffs on car imports into the United States.
Trudeau's office responded later, saying they were focused on what was accomplished at the G7 summit and that the prime minister said nothing at the press conference that he hadn't mentioned "before - both in public, and in private conversations with the President."
US isolated among allies
Although Trump called his relationship with the six other countries "outstanding," the summit showed the United States was increasingly isolated. Trump repeatedly insisted America's allies would yield to his trade demands and that Washington would crush any opposition in a potential trade war.
Trump appeared to get one concession when the G7 committed "to modernize the WTO to make it more fair as soon as possible." Trump has repeatedly criticized the World Trade Organization as a disaster for the United States.
Before Trump pulled out of the final comminque, French President Emmanuel Macron said Europe had put up a united front against the United States.
"Trump did not want to be isolated," Macron said. "We managed to convince Trump that six plus one was feasible and he did not want that."
"This G7 does not put an end to all our disagreements, but in a context of tension it did allow us to preserve unity wherever that was possible," he said. "The fact that we weren't ready to downgrade our positions allowed us to have a better result than we might have hoped for."
While the final communique, apparently with just the G6 signing on, committed that Iran will "never seek, develop or acquire a nuclear weapon," there appeared to be little to close the gap between the US and its allies on contentious issues surrounding trade and investment with Iran.
The Trump administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal last month and is set to impose sanctions that have left European leaders scrambling to protect their businesses and save the accord.
On climate change, the G7 failed to find consensus after the United States withdrew from the Paris climate accord last year. The G7 minus the United States agreed to cooperated on climate change.
The United States was also the only outlier on the issue of environment protection. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the United States was the only G7 member that refused to commit to eliminating plastic waste, which is devastating the world's oceans.
"The United States is in favor of protecting the oceans in principle, but they do not want to participate in quantifiable goals in that regard," Merkel said.
The US’s status as the biggest G7 economy has customarily allowed it to steer the agenda of the club’s summits from its place at the top, the other countries following its lead. But Donald Trump chose a different tactic.
There were too many flagrant deviations by the US delegation from established etiquette to consider it a simple sign of Trump’s erratic boorishness. Instead, it appeared that American president was in no mood to compromise, and had every intention to aggravate.
Arriving late to miss a face-to-face with Emmanuel Macron, snubbing Theresa May while leaking pointed comments about her “school mistress” tone, tardiness at the official breakfast on Saturday, and skipping a climate change discussion to leave early, only to give a casual press conference on the way out – all of these were extravagant diplomatic displays of disdain.
While some have reported that Trump simply never wanted to go to Quebec, others believe he is following the well-known conflict strategy in negotiation, in which he scares his supposedly saner counterparts into granting him his wishes just to avoid the greater risks he is prepared to take. The only man with a counter-strategy to the man-with-the-bomb act appeared to be Emmanuel Macron who simply decided to death grip Donald Trump’s hand until it turned an alarming shade of white, though it remains uncertain if the move was effective.
Russia’s G8 status a red rag
There is no better way to rile up the rest of the G7 than by suggesting that it welcome Russia back at the exact moment when relations between Moscow and the West are hitting a new nadir on a weekly basis.
Trump mentioned this proposal at every single press opportunity, straight-facedly talking about how reintegrating Moscow would be a boon to world peace, and even had the chutzpah to suggest that some (unspecified) countries actually agreed with the proposal.
Discussing Crimea as an Obama-era issue also implied that the current administration may not regard the fate of the peninsula as an immovable issue resulting in eternal sanctions, a contravention of the “not an inch” rhetoric from Europe.
The tariff war isn’t going away easily
Many political rivals and analysts considered Trump’s pet obsessions – such as building that wall – wrong-headed or impractical, believing them to be empty campaign promises or fantasies. They are probably still surprised that the US president did move the embassy to Jerusalem, and actually quit the Iran deal.
And Trump’s trade balance hobby horse is one of his sturdiest, and could single-handedly explain his entire performance in Quebec.
Painting the US as a victim of its haplessness - “the piggy bank that everybody is robbing” including a “brutal” EU – as a result of asymmetrical tariffs, Trump announced his aluminum and steel levies in advance of the G7, and didn’t let the topic go, only to turn around at the last moment and suddenly suggest dropping tariffs altogether.
In one of the mostly tonally odd moments of the entire summit, Trump at one point announced out of nowhere – in a mix between a deadpan joke and a power move – that Canada had agreed to drop all tariffs, with Justin Trudeau standing next to him bemused (“we have a ten out of ten relationship,” Trump told the media).
With Russia out, none of the BRICS countries were represented at Charlevoix, and economic data shows that with each annual summit the share of the seven keeps falling in relative terms, as the rest of the world catches up.
But libertarian economist Jeffrey Tucker believes the problems run deeper than that.
“The world economy is increasingly decentralized and integrated in a way that eludes control by anybody - whether it's G7, G8, G20 or G200,” he told RT. “It’s hard to know if in the future these bodies will have much relevance to the way the world economy operates.”
So if it is not their economic heft, and their once-vaunted political unity that these seven countries are projecting what is it exactly that the G7 is offering, either to those posing the “family photo” or those in the wider world?
By Michael D. Shear and Catherine Porter
In a remarkable pair of acrimony-laced tweets from aboard Air Force One as he flew away from the Group of 7 summit toward a meeting with North Korea’s leader, Mr. Trump lashed out at Justin Trudeau. He accused the prime minister, who hosted the seven-nation gathering, of making false statements.
Literally moments after Mr. Trudeau’s government proudly released the joint statement, noting it had been agreed to by all seven countries, Mr. Trump blew apart the veneer of cordiality that had prevailed throughout the two days of meetings in a resort town on the banks of the St. Lawrence River.
“Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!” Mr. Trump wrote.
A few hours earlier, Mr. Trudeau said the seven nations had reached broad agreements on a range of economic and foreign policy goals. But he acknowledged that deep disagreements remained between Mr. Trump and the leaders of the other nations, especially on trade. Mr. Trudeau had sought to play down personal clashes with Mr. Trump as he wrapped up the summit, calling the meeting “very successful” and saying he was “inspired by the discussion.” But he also pledged to retaliate against the United States tariffs on steel and aluminum products in defense of Canadian workers.
Mr. Trump, who apparently saw Mr. Trudeau’s news conference on television aboard Air Force One, was clearly enraged.
“PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our @g7 meetings,” Mr. Trump said in a second tweet, “only to give a news conference after I left saying that, ‘US Tariffs were kind of insulting’ and he ‘will not be pushed around.’ Very dishonest & weak. Our Tariffs are in response to his of 270% on dairy!”
Not long after, John Bolton, the president’s national security adviser, tweeted out a dramatic photo of Mr. Trump, arms crossed and scowling, looking defiant as the leaders of the other nations stood in a circle around him. “Just another #G7 where other countries expect America will always be their bank,” Mr. Bolton wrote as the president’s plane stopped for refueling at Souda Bay on the Greek island of Crete. “The President made it clear today. No more.”
Mr. Trudeau’s office responded to the president’s Twitter barrage with a carefully worded statement.
“We are focused on everything we accomplished here at the summit,” said Cameron Ahmad, a spokesman for Mr. Trudeau. “The prime minister said nothing he hasn’t said before — both in public, and in private conversations with the President.”
The president’s outburst had been foreshadowed for days leading up to the Canada summit, with Mr. Trump and his counterparts trading sharp-edged barbs that included threats of punches and counterpunches on tariffs. President Emmanuel Macron of France accused Mr. Trump of being willing to remain isolated from the world.
That was followed by 48 hours of tense and often confrontational closed-door discussions between Mr. Trump and the leaders of America’s closest allies — France, Britain, Canada, Japan, Italy and Germany — in the hopes of resolving a brewing trade war among friends.
Instead, the gathering apparently served to further inflame Mr. Trump’s belief that the United States is being treated unfairly by countries with which prior presidents had long ago negotiated trade agreements for the flow of goods and services. The result was a slow-rolling collapse of the fragile alliances that officials at the summit — and even Mr. Tump’s own White House advisers — insisted throughout the day could be maintained in the face of fundamental disagreements.
Reporters on Air Force One had been told that the United States would sign the joint statement. And minutes after the president’s tweets, reporters were sent an email that had clearly been prepared earlier touting Mr. Trump’s participation in the summit, complete with photos.
Earlier in the day, before Mr. Trump left the summit, he brought up the dramatic prospect of completely eliminating tariffs on goods and services, even as he threatened to end all trade with them if they didn’t stop what he said were unfair trade practices. Mr. Trump, speaking to reporters at the end of the contentious meeting, said that eliminating all trading barriers would be “the ultimate thing.” He railed about what he called “ridiculous and unacceptable” tariffs on American goods and vowed to end them. “It’s going to stop,” he said, “or we’ll stop trading with them. And that’s a very profitable answer, if we have to do it.” He added, “We’re like the piggy bank that everybody’s robbing — and that ends.”
The other six leaders were defiant in the face of Mr. Trump’s threats.
“I have made it very clear to the president that it is not something we relish doing, but it is something that we absolutely will do,” Mr. Trudeau said. “As Canadians, we are polite, we’re reasonable, but also we will not be pushed around.”
Mr. Macron said the trade debates at the summit were “sometimes quite heated.” Asked who won the tug-of-war with Trump, Mr. Macron said: “There is no winner, there are only losers when you take that strategy.” Theresa May, the British prime minister, blasted Mr. Trump’s tariffs. She said she had registered “our deep disappointment at the unjustified decision” and that the loss of trade through tariffs would “ultimately make everyone poorer.”
The president’s public comments on trade Saturday echoed the complaints he made directly to the leaders from Canada, Japan and Europe in private sessions on Friday. Mr. Trump confronted several of the leaders individually, giving examples of how, in his view, each of their countries had mistreated the United States, whether it be through trade barriers or security commitments, according to a European official.
The president delivered a running monologue in one of the closed-door meetings, one person familiar with the discussion said. One minute, he slammed Germany for taking advantage of the United States by selling so many cars there. The next, he talked about how his grandfather was German and how much he loved Europe. Several of the leaders responded aggressively to Mr. Trump’s demands — as they have repeatedly done in public — listing their own complaints about American tariffs and other trade measures, the official said. Several countries have said that they will retaliate against the United States’ new steel and aluminum tariffs with increased tariffs of their own.
“If they retaliate, they’re making a mistake,” Mr. Trump said on Saturday.
Mr. Trump’s surprise proposal for a tariff-free G7 followed from a conversation the president had on Air Force One heading to Canada with Larry Kudlow, his national economic adviser. Mr. Kudlow, a self-described “lifelong free trader,” wrote an op-ed article in The Washington Post on Thursday saying that he did not prefer tariffs but that Mr. Trump’s actions were “a wake-up call to the dangers of a broken trading system that is increasingly unfree.” Mr. Trump and Mr. Kudlow discussed the article on the plane, but the president surprised even his own team by raising the idea with the other leaders. While some observers took it as more of a talking point, a senior administration official said the president was serious about it and wanted it given serious study. Other leaders, the official said, expressed interest.
The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe closed-door discussions.
Asked late Saturday what he told Mr. Trump about the surprise proposal for a tariff-free zone, Mr. Macron said, with a smile: “Be my guest, if that’s your wish.” Throughout his remarks on Saturday, Mr. Trump repeatedly returned to his broader complaints about trade practices around the world, insisting that it was the fault of past American leaders who had agreed to deals that benefited other countries more than the United States.
He complained that American dairy farmers were being treated unfairly by Canada.
“The United States pays tremendous tariffs on dairy, as an example, 270 percent,” he said. “Nobody knows that.”
“We don’t want to pay anything,” he said. “Why should we pay?” The president also said American farmers had been hurt for a long time by trade barriers that made it harder for them to sell their goods to other countries.
“You look at our farmers,” he said. “For 15 years, the graph has gone just like this: down.”
“I blame our leaders,” Mr. Trump said. “In fact, I congratulate the leaders of other countries for so crazily being able to make these trade deals that were so good for their country and so bad for the United States. But those days are over.” Mr. Trump said some of the other leaders he met with during the summit appeared to admit that their trade arrangements with the United States were unfair.
“A lot of these countries actually smile at me when I’m talking,” he said. “And the smile is, ‘We couldn’t believe we got away with it.’”
That assessment by Mr. Trump stands in contrast to the public statements by those leaders, who have repeatedly insisted that they will not accept the kinds of tariffs that Mr. Trump has imposed on their industries. In addition to trade, Mr. Trump also took questions about his call for Russia to be reinstated as a member of the Group of 7 nations, despite having been expelled four years ago in the wake of the Russian annexation of Crimea.
“I would rather see Russia in the G-8 as opposed to the G-7,” he said. “I would say that the G8 is a more meaningful group than the G-7. Absolutely.”
Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai
“The best way to solve any problem is to remove the cause.” — Dr Martin Luther King
Kashmiris need to be given their right to make their own decisions. So far, the story has been just about India, Pakistan, and their fight to the finish line that is Kashmir — but what the people of Kashmir want never makes the headlines. In a recent interview with The Indian Express, Dineshwar Sharma, the former intelligence chief interlocutor said, “When I talk to the younger generation there (Kashmir), often they confront me with so many questions and even talk about Azaadi. Any rational discussion will be possible when we are able to first address the sentiment of the people.” I believe that we need fresh thinking to fix the Kashmir issue. It has been more than 70 years since Pakistan and India have been facing this bilateral issue. All parties concerned, including the governments of India and Pakistan, and the leadership representing the people of Kashmir, need to recognise that the issue cannot be resolved with a shift in strategy.
However, the one thing that cannot be compromised is the will and sentiments of the people of Kashmir.
We know that all international conflicts ultimately are resolved on the negotiating table. If that is true, then the world powers should become deeply engaged in order to make sure that the peace process between India and Pakistan does not get derailed. They can play a bridge-building role to bring parties together so that the animosity is done away with, and the dawn of dialogue and engagement is sustained. They need to make sure that any policy for conflict resolution, adopted by both New Delhi and Islamabad, is consistent, coherent, transparent and dependable. We are mindful of the United Nation (UN)’s focus on ensuring that India and Pakistan keep talking to each other. However, while talks are needed, expecting a breakthrough with just talks is like asking for a miracle. During the long years that India, Pakistan and the UN have spent playing political chess, the people of Kashmir have been denied the role of even a pawn. Their voices have neither been summoned nor heard, yet they have suffered persistent, harrowing human rights violations.
It’s interesting how problematic it is for India and Pakistan to agree that Kashmiris themselves have a stake in any talks about their future. In what kind of democratic process would this not be of prime consideration? The moral, legal and historical foundations for such a principle have been frequently raised not only by Kashmiris but by the world community as well, which are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as in the United Nations Security Council resolutions on Kashmir.
India and Pakistan have had more than 150 official rounds of talks in the last seven decades to discuss their conflicts and issues. The by-product of every round of talks was an agreement to meet again to talk. During the long years that India, Pakistan and the UN have spent playing political chess, the people of Kashmir have been denied the role of even a pawn. Their voices have neither been summoned nor heard, yet they have suffered persistent, harrowing human rights violations.
As a result, the peace process has remained but an illusion. Talks have always proved barren because both India and Pakistan have never defined the parameters of talks. The talks were never meant to be time bound with specific benchmarks that would define and characterise progress. History testifies that the dispute will not, and cannot, be solved bilaterally by the two stakeholders involved. Both India and Pakistan have to agree to include the leadership of the Kashmiri political resistance to explore a lasting solution for the dispute.
We are fully aware that the settlement of the Kashmir dispute cannot be achieved in one move. Like all qualified observers, we visualise successive steps or intermediate solutions in the process. It is one thing, however, to think of a settlement over a relatively extended period of time. It is atrociously different to postpone the beginning of the process on that account. The people of Kashmir need to be given back their representation and freedom to decide what they want. Whether they want to continue with the status quo or opt for something new will not be difficult to work out. It can be done by a joint committee composed of rightly qualified people from India and Pakistan, who would consult Kashmiri representatives, along with experts from the United Nations. What is desperately needed is an affirmation by the leadership of both India and Pakistan, that they will implement new measured to settle the Kashmir dispute. To that end, India and Pakistan must together prepare a plan for the demilitarisation of the state with safeguards for security worked out together.
Peace in the region would benefit all involved — Kashmiris, Pakistanis and Indians. Sounder minds must prevail. More rational methods of dealing with differences must be sought. Repeating the same mistakes, while expecting different results, has long ago been found to be the path of failure.
Seventy years should demonstrate a need for a change in policy — a policy that accepts the need for coming together in a process that accepts the right of all people to determine their own destiny.
The people of Kashmir, like most people, are by their nature peaceful. History testifies to that fact. They do not seek war, and do not want to see their children die in a bloody conflict. They seek and would welcome a peaceful and negotiated settlement to the crisis for the sake of peace and stability in the region of South Asia.
We will not be able to see a change in the Pakistani society if our so-called civil society decides to remain silent over brutalities against minorities.
Are we living in the age of modern liberal democracy or the dark ages? Each day in Pakistan brings a new kind of darkness, as people continue to die. The blame can be placed in several different directions, but the silence of the civil society is the most criminal aspect of this issue.
It is extremely sad to see the criminal silence of the Pakistani state machinery, and especially the civil society, over several brutal and barbaric incidents that have taken place recently. There has been no action against the atrocities we see every day, apart from the few voices that have been raised through print and electronic media — which is infact, playing the role of the fourth pillar of the state.
Recently, a prominent social activist was murdered in Peshawar. Sardar Charanjit Singh’s senseless death needs to be questioned, along with the brutal killings and police torture of people that belong to minorities.
The people of this country have no right to talk about the violence in Jammu and Kashmir, the atrocities being inflicted on the Rohingya Muslims, or the plight of the Palestinians. When it’s our own people, all we do is stay silent
Unfortunately, the Pakistani federation was unable to promote the concept of an equal citizenship. In reality, this country was supposed to promote national integration of all people, regardless of their colour, cast or creed. This was the true vision of the father of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
We need constitutional amendments and need to revisit the Objectives Resolution of 1949 for political, economic and cultural harmony among different communities in Pakistan.
The people of this country have no right to talk about the violence in Jammu and Kashmir, the atrocities being inflicted on the Rohingya Muslims, or the plight of the Palestinians. We stay silent when we see our own people being discriminated against, killed, raped, and more. But we love to talk about people dying in other countries, and even organise rallies and protests to show our support.
I have hardly seen any voices being raised in support of Sindh, who lost his life despite the exceptional work he was doing.
Actually we do not know the meaning of a federation. The federal constitution or the law of the land binds together all the religious and ethnic groups and in fact, empowers them through constitutional law.
It’s important to know that people of all communities have given their lives for the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan. In 1960s, no one could even think that an African American will someday become the president of USA but the majority decided to vote for Barrack Obama
This sense of insecurity among different ethnic groups,especially among the Hazara community and in the people of Balochistan is a serious threat to the Pakistani Federation. This sense of division encourages anti-state elements to interfere.
It’s important to know that people of all communities have given their lives for the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan. In 1960s, no one could even think that an African American will someday become the president of USA but the majority decided to vote for Barrack Obama.
The people of Pakistan, regardless of colour, caste, creed, and religion gave their lives in the wars of 1948, 1965, 1971. Christian and other minority officers of the Pakistan Army fought for the sovereignty of Pakistan. We will not be able to see a change in our society if our so-called civil society decides to remain silent over brutalities against minorities.
The conclusion is this that we cannot afford extremism, radicalism fundamentalism in any form and for that we need to take practical steps in the right direction and need to find out the cause of this hatred.
The country needs drastic political, economic, social and constitutional reforms for national unification, which can leads us towards becoming one nation regardless of our differences. Criminal silence will lead us towards complete destruction. We should not live in a fool’s paradise.
The JuD was declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US in June 2014. The JuD chief also carries a $10 million American bounty on his head for his role in terror activities.
Hafiz Saeed's Jammat-ud-Dawah is fielding more than 200 candidates in the July 25 general elections on national and provincial Assembly seats across the country even as the Mumbai terror attack mastermind has decided not to run for parliament.
Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba terror group that carried out the deadly 2008 Mumbai attack, launched its political front Milli Muslim League (MML), but it has not been yet registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
With general elections approaching, the group decided to contest on the platform of a "dormant" political entity Allaha-u-Akbar Tehreek (AAT) registered with the ECP.
The JuD activists and sympathisers have taken the nomination papers from the ECP and are fielding their candidates on the platform of the AAT.
"MML president Saifullah Khalid and AAT chief Ehsan Bari have agreed to field joint candidates on the platform of ATT in the upcoming elections. Under the seat adjustment agreement, the MML will field more than 200 educated candidates. They will contest the elections on the AAT's election symbol chair," Ahmad Nadeem, an MML spokesperson, told PTI today.
He said there are many political figures who have joined the MML and it has awarded them AAT tickets.
Asked if Saeed plans to run as a parliamentary candidate in this election, the spokesman said: "No ... Hafiz sahib has no such plans at the moment. The MML is taking part for the first time in the general elections and hopefully, we will make to the parliament."
To a question, if any "significant leader" of the JuD would contest the election, he said: "Our priority is that those joining us from other political parties or educated youths in respective constituencies be given AAT tickets."
He said the AAT will launch its political campaign once its candidates file nomination papers.
"We are hopeful that the people will elect our candidates," he said.
It is believed that since the MML has hardly any chance to get registered with the ECP as the latter had announced the election schedule and issued election symbols, it had no other option but to contest the election on any 'dormant' entity like the AAT.
Earlier, MML president Saifullah Khalid had said: "We have decided to support the candidates of AAT in July 25 elections. We will play a role in the victory of those contesting on the symbol of a chair. To save Pakistan, patriotic people should be supported in the elections."
Khalid said the MML had been denied registration in the ECP for the last 11 months but will take part in the polls by supporting AAT candidates.
The interior ministry had opposed enlisting of the MML as a political party arguing it's an offshoot of Saeed's JuD banned under a UN resolution.
The JuD formed MML at the time when Saeed was detained in Lahore. Saeed and his four aides - Abdullah Ubaid, Malik Zafar Iqbal, Abdul Rehman Abid and Qazi Kashif Hussain - were placed under house arrest in Lahore on January 30 under the anti-terrorism act.
The JuD was declared as a foreign terrorist organisation by the US in June 2014. The JuD chief also carries a $10 million American bounty on his head for his role in terror activities.