Oedipus Rex Revisited – OpEd


It now appears possible that the next President of the United States of America may well be Donald Trump. His return to the White House amidst court cases both pending and ongoing can even be evaluated as probable if one has confidence in the polling results in key battleground states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, Nevada and others.

Unlike a panicked Chicken Little who screamed ‘the sky is falling’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vQkd2vUiIA), our wise political class at the helm of states traditionally friendly and allied to America remains stoical when confronted with the possible return of Trump. Many on the center left in the Americas and Europe appear to be sleepwalking through the upcoming ‘dérangement’ as they consult their ideological crystal ball of wokism. They repeat incessantly that all will be well since even Trump and his supporters are rational economic and political actors. When push comes to shove, they know who is on the side of America. There is no need for worry. Alles unter Kontrolle.

In contrast, Allied states on the right of the political spectrum rejoice thinking they will have ideas in common with Trump. They reason that they are of the same ideological stripe so what can really go wrong? So, the immigrants take it on the chin again. Sending them to the darkest corner of Africa makes sense, right? That solution may be temporary given the imminence of a change in government in the United Kingdom if election polls are correct.

Never have the soothing words of the tragic Greek hero Oedipus Rex appeared so out of step with the dangerous locomotive now picking up a full head of steam and headed right for us.

The news is that all is not well. There is no good news to tell the people about events in America. We, who will shortly become the potential targets of a new Trump administration.

Verily, in Canada, there is no general panic. Forest fires, climate change and awaiting the next prise de bec between Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and Conservative Pierre Poilievre, the gros bon sens leader of the gros bon sens party have occupied the airwaves so far. 

Meanwhile, the Canadian Embassy in Washington and its consulates throughout the United States are doing their best to put on a happy face. The refrain goes something like this: 
We can deal with Trump. After all, we are all Americans anyway. The USMCA tripartite free trade agreement (NAFTA renegotiated) ensures a level playing field, n’est-ce pas? Tariffs levied by Washington against imports from Canada and Europe will harm American industry as much as its intended victims. Reason will prevail.

These tales of Trump’s innermost thoughts and rationality and the exigencies of Realpolitik strike me as wokist pipe dreams. They conceal the menacing truth from populations that need to know what the near future might hold. 

What is our political class and their media acolytes concealing? Let us begin with tariffs. President Trump is not interested in protecting blue states that vote against his brand so harming them through US tariffs is of no consequence to him. Wisconsin beware on the dairy file! Second, in the case of some countries including Canada, tariffs were put on foreign goods based on a patently bogus security threat. The goal was really to prevent China from dumping its products into these third-party countries, some of which have an economic treaty with Washington. Canada and Mexico come to mind. Thirdly, the USA has systematically thwarted any attempt to negotiate an effective disputes mechanism panel by bestowing it with an executive power. This continues to disrupt world trade despite the presence of a World Trade Organization (WTO) and the former General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT). The disputes panel mechanism is toothless and smaller economies continue to be overwhelmed by larger ones. It is called economic blackmail. Its negative economic ramifications require a political spin in the home country in order to dispel any hint of incompetent leadership. After all, who likes to be told they are living in a vassal state like a valet.

Some argue that since power is distributed and shared across the political spectrum in America, countries can counter negative Presidents by leveraging other loci of power such as Congress, the Senate, State governors and legislatures, Mayors of big cities etc. This may be an antidote to one-man rule but you can count on Trump to counter with domestic posturing about the immense benefits of American economic nationalism. There are no trade rules that a Donald Trump presidency would recognize and lest we forget, we are the foreigners. His poker hand is far superior to any rational arguments about level playing fields that we may presume to present. 

The American election is now just six months away. The Biden camp is hopelessly divided over the Gaza caper. Trump has not been unceremoniously dumped by any significant part of the Republican Party. The presence of Kennedy on state ballots in November further weakens the Democratic Party and its chances of victory.

My advice to the Canadian government on the day Donald Trump could be elected President again is this:

Apply immediately to the European Council for Chapter 1 negotiations seeking membership status in the European Union. At least we might be able to jump the queue in front of Turkey.

Bruce Mabley

Dr. Bruce Mabley is a former Canadian diplomat having served in the Middle East, and is the director of the Mackenzie-Papineau think tank in Montreal.

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