President Donald Trump has repeatedly shown that when it comes to foreign policy, he prefers bullying over supporting widely held norms.
He has embraced dictators while trashing American allies and alliances. He ignores or undermines international institutions that the United States helped to create.
And on the trade front, he has slapped tariffs on close allies and partners while invoking vague claims about national security.
The latest move came last week, when Trump again threatened trade sanctions against Mexico, a major trading partner, over a humanitarian crisis at the southern border that he helped create. The families escaping violence and poverty in Central America that are crossing the border with Mexico are not a national security threat. But they do look more and more like props in Trump’s reelection campaign.
A few weeks ago, when Trump proposed shutting down the southern border entirely, it seemed that cooler heads had prevailed.
He backed off and said that he would give Mexico a year to stop the migrant flow and then consider imposing 25 percent tariffs on the country’s automobile exports if the government failed to do so.
But Trump doesn’t know how to keep his word, and something apparently set him off last week.