The US is the cornerstone of the international order. If Donald Trump removes it, the remaining democracies must still stand together
The failure of the G7 meeting in Charlevoix, Quebec, marks a watershed for the 21st-century democracies. It is the moment when Donald Trump’s disruption of the international order moved from annoying threat to damaging reality. Mr Trump went to Quebec only under protest. He made no effort to compromise on his tariff war. He arrived late for meetings, chided the other leaders and left early. He snubbed the final communique. He tweeted insults to his Canadian hosts from his plane as he headed off. By the time his North Korean summit ends later this week, Mr Trump may be on chummier terms with another authoritarian dictator than with America’s democratic allies.
The immediate upshot is bad enough. The US refused to sign a G7 communique that was too weak, especially on climate change, but that should have been supported. Mr Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs were the flashpoint; but the G7 countries actually have much in common on trade, not least on forced technology transfers to China. The communique also challenged Russia’s destabilisation tactics, said Iran’s nuclear programme must remain wholly peaceful and contained declarations on gender equality and fair tax regimes. Mr Trump has not signed off on these either. But the longer-term damage of this division could be even worse.