Alberta Politics
U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping during their side chat in Osaka (Photo: Screenshot of New China TV video).

Another week in the Annals of Diplomacy: in stormy times, half a loaf is better than none

Posted on June 30, 2019, 2:33 am
10 mins

From the sublime to the ridiculous, it would appear, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government will do anything to keep Donald Trump sweet.

Consider the dissimilar cases of Meng Wanzhou and Stephanie Clifford.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s brief side conversation with President Xi on the same occasion (Photo: Screenshot of CBC video).

The first we won’t allow to leave Canada, the second we won’t allow to visit. Both, obviously, because that’s what the giant boy-man who is president of the United States desires.

Or, more to the point, it’s what the Trudeau Government thinks Mr. Trump wants because we’re now at the point we try to anticipate his every likely whim in advance, the better to preserve the USMCA, the NAFTA, or whatever our corporate-rights agreement with the United States is called this week.

This is just pathetic, and it’s certainly not what Justin’s old man would have done in the same situation – or even the more diplomatic Lester B. Pearson, who preceded Pierre Trudeau in the job of prime minister of Canada, and who President Lyndon B. Johnson famously accused of pissing on America’s rug by not toadying up to U.S. warmongering in Vietnam.

Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou (Photo: Office of the President of Russia).

Ms. Meng, of course, is the executive for Chinese electronics giant and alleged security threat Huawei who we’ve been obediently holding captive since late last year because the Trump Administration wants to use her as a bargaining chip in its ongoing trade war with China.

Oh no, it’s all about the rule of law, our treaties with the United States, and the fact Huawei was selling electronic widgets to Iran, you say? Please! The previous paragraph is an accurate summary of the explanation given by President Trump himself of the U.S. demand we extradite Ms. Meng to a kangaroo trial and a predetermined prison sentence, followed by, perhaps, repatriation in the event the Chinese fully knuckle under to the art of the deal.

You can believe that pious posh-posh about treaty obligations if you like, but you have to agree that Ms. Meng’s lawyers were onto something when they wrote Justice Minister David Lametti on Monday arguing the case against her is “palpably” political.

They asserted, therefore, that Ottawa should let her go, and this would be true to “Canadian values, including the rule of law, even in circumstances where this has meant a departure from American foreign policy.” They gave the example of Canada’s refusal to participate in the tragic and immoral Iraq war, although they could as easily given the example of the tragic and immoral Vietnam war that got Mr. Pearson called on the carpet by LBJ.

Stephanie Clifford, better known as Stormy Daniels (Photo: Glenn Francis, Creative Commons).

This is what the elder Mr. Trudeau would have done, I’d hazard, and it’s embarrassing the Trudeau we have now won’t do the same.

Ms. Clifford, of course, is better known as Stormy Daniels, the American star of movies of questionable artistic merit and sometime presidential paramour. Her relationship with Mr. Trump seems lately to have been, well, stormy.

Ms. Clifford was denied entry to Canada a week ago Friday for “mysterious” reasons, according to the few news organizations that bothered to cover the story, several of them Russian. Those that did mostly used it as an excuse to run salacious photos of Ms. Clifford and engage in a little free advertising for the tacky Niagara Falls strip joint that invited her to the Canadian side of the falls for what has been termed a meet-and-greet last weekend. The proprietor of the establishment complains he paid for the trip and is now, in a manner appropriate to that geographical location, over a barrel.

Since Ms. Clifford has no criminal convictions, it’s hard to imagine what the legal justification for the decision could have been. Perhaps Canada Border Services Agency officials worried she would corrupt our morals – she’s been known to hang around with Mr. Trump, after all. Or maybe she just forgot her passport.

Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson in 1957 (Photo: Nobel Foundation, Public Domain).

It seems more likely, though, this was just another tawdry example of our government shouting “how high” even before Mr. Trump’s minions yelled “jump!” Despite their differences, these two situations are just different sides of the same coin.

Together, they illustrate a troubling pattern, even though it’s doubtful trying to anticipate Mr. Trump’s wishes ever gets one very far – at least if the one in question happens to be the government of a country that ought to be able to consider itself an ally of the United States.

Just in case you’re wondering, obsequious as we’ve become, we’re certainly better off with Mr. Trudeau’s snivelling than we would have been with Andrew Scheer at the helm and Conservatives in power.

I mention this because Mr. Scheer was pretending last week in Internet memes cooked up by the former Rebel Media operatives who staff his strategic brain trust to be way more manly than Mr. Trudeau when it comes to standing up to China.

U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 (Photo: Arnold Newman, Public Domain).

He’s been doing this to cow-tow, as it were, to Western Canadian beef farmers and slaughterhouse operators, all of whom presumably are going to vote for his party anyway, over the way China’s cut off beef imports from Canada to apply pressure on us to release Ms. Meng.

No one can say that these export-dependent farmers’ fears aren’t real enough, but Mr. Scheer’s posturing is a bit of a laugh considering that his generation of Conservatives would already have shipped Ms. Meng off to a drumhead court at an undisclosed location in the Republic, no doubt without even the legal niceties of an extradition hearing. So would they have embroiled us in the Iraq and Vietnam wars if Conservatives of those times can be taken at their word.

For their part, the Chinese are in a position to squeeze Canadian famers till their pips squeak to make a point, confident that the Conservatives’ favourite American, Mr. Trump, will do nothing at all to thank Canada for its loyalty, except perhaps to impose some additional tariffs of his own on us.

Indeed, from the Chinese government’s perspective, kicking the crap out of Canada is an excellent way to make a strong point to Mr. Trump, confident there will be no repercussions from the United States, which is basically in the process of blowing up the world trade order it put in place to serve itself anyway.

Evidence coming out of the G20 meeting in Osaka, Japan, on Saturday suggests this may have worked for Chinese President Xi Jinping and Mr. Trump. Leastways, their side chat produced some headlines favourable to both, unlike Mr. Trudeau’s brief side conversation with President Xi about Canadian agricultural products and the Canadians languishing in Chinese jails, presumably as hostages to be exchanged for Ms. Meng.

Naturally there was no mention of Canada, let alone thanks, from President Trump.

Still, when it comes to diplomacy and geopolitics, I guess, half a loaf is better than none!

6 Comments to: Another week in the Annals of Diplomacy: in stormy times, half a loaf is better than none

  1. Ron

    June 30th, 2019

    Catering to tRump by messing with Stormy … fine by me.
    tRump is an existential threat to our existence so bending the rules on that one just makes good sense.

    But Meng? Besides being plain wrong (its is simply part of the economic & judicial warfare against China and Iran), the Meng arrest was about the dumbest thing Canada has done.

    Under Freeland & Jr we have the worst for. policy in history

    Reply
    • Rocky

      June 30th, 2019

      You’re certainly right about the deficiencies and dangers of the foolish Freeland-Trudeau foreign policy.

      Reply
  2. Scotty on Denman

    June 30th, 2019

    Ms Meng should have quietly been advised to leave Canada, and Canada’s response to tRump should have been an trite apology with a very wide, shit-eating smirk—oops, lost in translation! So sorry! But, when the good times are all gone, we’ll look for her if she ever passes this way…”…Seven seas that run high…”…heh, heh,…

    Meng’s arrest was probably worth the attempt to garner favour with tRump, but JT found out nothing more about the brat than the fact he has no qualms about doing more of the more he always does.

    So now JT knows. Now he coughs in the Orange One’s presence. Mark these words: JT is going to poke a stick at tRump, as he did with the cough—an offence for which the presidunce had his own staffer kicked out of the Oval Office—and then again in a highly publicized tête-à-tête with tRump’s Democratic nemesis House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, neither of which provoked comment from the Twitter Twit but which doubtlessly piqued his famously thin skin, more sensitively irritable than a fish’s in a tank of diluted amphetamine. JT’s gonna keep poking, coughing, irritating and crushing tRump’s famously small hands at every occasion a handshake can be squashed in. He has a plan.

    Maybe tRump’s innate sense of which of his acquaintances’ buttons are most irritating to push will advise him to pretend he doesn’t even notice JT’s increasing sauciness simply because that’s what Canadians are always indignant about: Americans not noticing us. The ploy works either way for JT, though, especially if Canadians perceive that tRump’s feigned indifference is in reaction to, not in control of, the relationship with his nation’s northern neighbour and most important cultural, strategic and economic ally.

    Yes, of course we’ve been lamenting that JT is no PET. Yet, the fortuitous congruity between Canada’s and America’s electoral cycles (both are beginning their respective federal election campaigns even though the Americans’ is a year longer) affords JT the opportunity to handcuff his domestic Conservative rival and rally patriots to his own party. And, if he does it with a cough and a smirk, he’d be only one step away from the perfect PET pirouette.

    Just like Stormy Daniels’ affair with the married tRump—with respect showing Americans the ethical caliber of their presidunce with all the reality TV grit he deserves—we always knew any favours tRump does Canada would be by way of perversity. In our case it’s also ironic because any attempt tRump makes to slag our PM will immediately have the opposite effect in Canada (as it did when The Donald insulted JT by publicly calling him “weak” and “dishonest” behind his back and suggesting it was going to cost Canadians “a lot of money”)—which is why JT will provoke it if tRump doesn’t try to insert himself into the Canadian election all by himself.

    But, even better, it can only help the Liberals if Scheer starts reading verbatim from the tRump playbook instead of in paraphrase as he’s been trying to do so far (this, of course, to feed his base the red meat they’ve become increasingly addicted to). Although JT probably doesn’t expect Scheer to recommend tRumpian policies to Canadians, the PM can reasonably expect to punch Scheer into the corner of the ring with rhetorical questions about his climate and immigration policies, underscoring the parallels with tRump’s odious policies south of the border which, handily, will be getting close inspection the whole while in the American context we Canadians love to observe and comment about.

    And, of course, JT gets to look more like his father, flipping the bird to Alberta still as politically affordable now, when Liberal prospects there are still very poor, as it was in PET’s NEP days.

    tRump: the gift that keeps on giving—we just had to get used to him.

    Reply
  3. Dave

    June 30th, 2019

    I would flout Trump on Stormy and would go along with the US on Meng.

    We can’t control other countries rules, but we can decide who comes to our country. I have always believed we should let most everyone in unless their is a very good reason not too. I think Stormy’s biggest supposed crime was embarassing Trump by exposing his moral shortcomings.

    Meng on the ofher hand is alleged to have committed a serious offence under US law. It may or not be the case, the courts can decide. While we in Canada may not regard the alleged offense as seriously as the US does, it is a general law there that applies to everyone, not jusr Meng. I don’t like the rule of law,argument much, as I thimk extradition is properly decided on a case by case basis, but I think in this case it is reasonable to let it play out under the law.

    She is certainly not being badly treated here, although limited to her large Vancouver mansion, so the Chinese response is disproportionate. If anything it shows the hypocricies of the Chinese system to the world. First, because they do not have fair trials there, they find it hard to believe she would get a fair trial in Canada or the US. Second, being a member of the economic and political elite, the Chinese government seems wiiling to go to great lenghts to help her. If she was an average Chinese citizen, I doubt their government would have tried to pressure us so much. Communism is China is now a sham now and in name only. The government protects its elites and priviledged as much as or more so as does the US. Both systems are fundamentally rotten and unfortunatetly we have to try and navigate around their shortcomings these days as best as possible.

    Reply
  4. Bill Malcolm

    June 30th, 2019

    What a great commentary! Perhaps because I agree with it from beginning to end and am therefore biased in favour, but the writing is stylish, wry and readable as well.

    Reply
  5. Sheldon

    July 1st, 2019

    Thank you for taking up the pen again.

    Reply

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