In the era of President Donald Trump, pressure pays.
Besides pushing the North Korean dictatorship to abandon its nuclear weapons program and working to remake the United States’ trade relationships with rivals and allies alike, American foreign policy in the Trump era has been consistent in another crucial area:
Relentlessly hammering the Islamic Republic of Iran for its support for terrorism and its own nuclear weapons programs. And despite criticism, there are signs it’s paying off, even among some Trump critics.
After the weekend’s G-7 summit of leading industrialized nations ended with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau engaging in a very public dispute with Trump over trade, that same Trudeau abruptly reversed his government’s course toward the mullahs in Tehran to one that’s much more in line with Trump’s position.
According to a report in the Toronto Sun, Trudeau’s turnaround was simply “remarkable.”
Led by a vote from the prime minister himself, Canada’s ruling Liberal Party voted in the country’s parliament on Tuesday to support a Conservative Party motion calling on the government to halt moves toward normalizing relations with Iran.
The same motion added the “Revolutionary Guard Corps to Canada’s list of designated terrorist entities,” the Sun reported.
Together, they amount to a denunciation of Iran. In other words, Trudeau repudiated his own foreign policy.
“It’s hard to understate just what a reversal this represents,” wrote the Sun’s Anthony Furey.
“Trudeau campaigned on restoring diplomatic relations with Iran, and this motion calls for the government to abandon its current plan and immediately cease any and all negotiations or discussion with the Islamic Republic of Iran to restore diplomatic relations.
“So what Trudeau did by standing up in support of an opposition MP’s mere motion was to signal a complete change in the Canadian government’s Iran policy. What had previously been characterized as a policy of appeasement now appears to be one rooted in toughness and holding the regime to account for their conduct.”
Now, what could account for Trudeau’s stunning about-face?
Furey speculated that it might be that Trudeau and his Liberal Party have decided that Iran is serious when it makes threats about eradicating Israel or that Trudeau wanted to curry favor with Canada’s Iranian dissident community.
But he also included a suggestion that “maybe, as one national security source suggested to the Sun, U.S. President Donald Trump pressured Trudeau on the broader issue at the G7.”
Maybe Trump really did bring pressure personally at the summit.
But maybe it was also Trump’s relentless hammering at the Iran issue, especially his walking away from President Barack Obama’s Iran deal, that’s finally getting the message through to Canada and other allies that the murderous mullahs of Tehran are not to be trusted.
“Or maybe it was far simpler: That Trudeau had a change of heart and decided this was the right thing to do,” Furey wrote. “Time will tell. But what a welcome surprise.”
Maybe that, too.
But it’s a rock-solid bet that it’s a surprise that wouldn’t have happened if Donald Trump were not in the White House.
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