It is hard to believe that we are now governed by a president who goes out of his way to provoke other nations. The bizarre contretemps with the president of Mexico is pointlessly destructive of one of America’s most important relationships. What kind of president wakes up determined to insult the president of a friendly country — a country whose cooperation we need? It beggars belief.

We woke up yesterday morning to this:

The Mexican president, whose approval rating is around 12 percent, had no choice but to cancel the meeting. Mexicans reacted with outrage at Trump and the US.  Later, Trump said he was going to pay for the wall by slapping a 20 percent tax on all goods imported from Mexico.

Look, I agree with Trump that we need stronger border enforcement and a tighter immigration policy. I believe that it’s not a bad idea to revisit the trade relationship between our two countries. The Mexican government and people were never going to be enthusiastic about any of this. Seems to me that a normal president reason would tell him that if we’re going to be tough, we ought to be diplomatic about it. Trump, though, relishes conflict. Last night on the radio, I heard the Mexican writer Enrique Krauze say that US-Mexico relations are now at their worst point in 170 years — that is, since the last time the two nations went to war.

Who benefits from this? Is it really to America’s advantage to have the nation on our southern border hating us? Is it really to America’s advantage to set the stage for the Mexicans to elect a president who promises to spite the United States at every turn? If we crash the Mexican economy, does it help us to have a poorer and more chaotic neighbor on our Southern border? The Mexican state is already feeble versus the drug cartels. Do we want to make it worse?

Trump has been in office one week, and he’s already pointlessly insulted and humiliated stupidly one of the most important countries in the world to the US, and brought a difficult but vital relationship between our two nations to the breaking point. Again: why? I understand that the status quo was no longer working, and I accept that we need to change some things. But this is not the way to do it, and this can never be the way mature nations behave. It is frightening that the US president is willing to destroy something so complex and important as our country’s relationship to Mexico. This is diplomacy by humiliation, which is no diplomacy at all. It’s starting to become clear that whoever follows Trump in office is going to have his or her hands full rebuilding things that Trump smashed for no reason other than it felt good to push others around.

 

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