By now, we’ve all seen the photo of President Donald Trump at the G-7 summit, sitting arms crossed in a face-off with other leaders, a petulant look on his face.
And we’ve seen the downward cascade of headlines from the summit – Trump threatening tariff increases for European allies and Canada, suggesting Russia should be readmitted in the G7, showing up late for the first full meeting, leaving early to head for his meeting this week with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, and then tweeting angrily about Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Now think about all of that in contrast with a new photo – one taken just last night – of Trump smiling and friendly, shaking hands with Kim Jong Un.
None of it was a good look. But more important, it marked a shirking of longstanding U.S. allies, in favor of compliments toward notorious dictators.
What does this say about Trump’s foreign policy and our standing in the world?
Peter Trumbore, professor and chair of political science and Oakland University says President Trump has long demonstrated a resistance to embrace American allies.
“[He has] this idea that every relationship should be transactional,” says Trumbore. “It’s this notion that allies take advantage of the United States, and therefore we should not be committed to any relationship for any period of time.”
Trump has been chipping away at relationships with allies, publicly, over trade and trade deficits. Some analysts say we could be headed for a global trade war, or an isolation of the United States. But others say it might not be so dire.
“I don’t think it’s calamitous, about-to-have-a-trade-war scenario,” says Geoffrey Gertz, a post-doctoral research fellow on global economy and development at the Brookings Institution.
Gertz says Trump’s words have been tougher than his action thus far, and that his trade policies have been in line with previous presidents.
“The question we see now is, is that starting to change?”
Trumbore says it makes sense there is skepticism about Trump’s ability to honor and carry forward with deals with other nations. He says his administration killing the Iran nuclear deal is a great example of that bad faith.
“The Iran deal was one that worked and was working, and really in many ways should have been a template for what we do with North Korea, and we’ve thrown that into the trash can.”
To hear more from Trumbore and Gertz on Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.