President Donald Trump's advisers say his combative talk during and after the G-7 summit was a necessary show of toughness on the eve of his meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong-Un. If that is all it is and if it helps move North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions, perhaps it serves some useful purpose. But outside of that, the president's behavior seems bent on disrupting the world order in ways that will have a direct and a deleterious impact on the United States in general and on Illinois and the suburbs specifically.
Republican U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton made this point immediately following Trump's announcement that he would impose tariffs on steel and aluminum. "We must target countries like China who are dumping steel on our shores instead of punishing allies like Canada and Europe with tariffs that will incite a trade war," Roskam urged.
A week later at a breakfast meeting of The Ripon Society, Roskam said farmers may be the interest group with the most ability to influence the tariff discussion. Farmers, remember, are the group President Trump says he is helping by heaping tariffs on Canadian products.
"You talk to (folks in agriculture) and they get ashen faced at the idea of this," Roskam said. "This notion -- that a huge part of the president's constituency now find themselves locked out of markets and they're (unable) to sell into these places -- it doesn't end well."
Clearly, the president is not listening to such voices even from within his own party. Instead, he seems convinced that unilaterally initiating a trade war, then expanding it into a war of twitter insults with our closest friends will produce a more just and prosperous world economy.
Except for the small circle of political loyalists who surround him, he stands virtually alone among serious economic thinkers in this view, but even if it does have merit, his belligerent denigration of nations that have been America's closest allies for more than 70 years is no way to promote it.
Indeed, his actions so far have only isolated America and distanced her from the myriad benefits that decades of friendship with other nations can provide -- and has provided, in terms of both national security and American economic vitality.
Meanwhile, his sympathies with and for dictators leading America's traditional adversaries -- most notably Russia's Vladimir Putin -- serve only to confound the world and complicate the debate. Like all Americans, we hope his personal meeting with the one from North Korea will bear positive results.
But there is no need, in the meantime, to insult our friends and help to further fragment the world -- at a considerable cost that American manufacturers, Illinois farmers and the suburban economy may shoulder for years to come.