We’re in Canada, so perhaps it’s all right to use a hockey analogy.
You’re playing in an important game, out there on left wing, and the way the lines are juggled, you end up playing opposite the same player on the other team. He used to be on your team; you even liked him then.
He’s bigger and stronger than you, and he clearly doesn’t mind cheating. The first time he takes you into the boards and you both end up on the ice, he tells you that he’d really like to take your teeth out with the butt of his stick.
When the ref’s back is turned at the next available face-off, he slashes you above the top of your gloves, right on your bare wrists. He hooks your feet out from under you on a regular basis, and, while you’re waiting for the puck to be dropped, talks filth about members of your family. Slashes you a few more times because he’s a bully and that’s the only skill he’s brought to the game.
He’s clearly trying to deliberately injure you, and keeps chirping throughout the game about how, before it’s all said and done, he’s going to hurt you as badly as he can.
When the ref’s back is turned at the next available face-off, he slashes you above the top of your gloves, right on your bare wrists. He hooks your feet out from under you on a regular basis, and, while you’re waiting for the puck to be dropped, talks filth about members of your family.
He sidles up to you and says, “So every time I have a problem with these, you know, many of these countries that we’re talking about, especially the big car countries … I just say, ‘OK! Look, that’s OK. I’m going to put a 20 per cent tax on your cars.’ … Actually in Canada, a tax on cars would be the ruination of the country.”
And you know full well how willing he is to cheat; he’s already made up essentially fraudulent tariffs on newsprint, tariffs his own team has tossed out as unreasonable. He’s used his executive powers to add tariffs on steel and aluminum, arguing that U.S. national security is at stake when it plainly isn’t. You’re not the only one he’s threatened to hurt; you know he’s trying to permanently injure Ted China, who is just as big as he is.
And at the end of the game, you’re all supposed to line up and shake hands with the players on the other team. Here he comes: “No hard feeling, hey?” he says.
Maybe, out of your own sense of sportsmanship and the love of the game, you can bring yourself to shake that outstretched hand and strike a tripartite trade deal with him.
Convince yourself it’s all part of the game?
Maybe you can make that argument.
That all’s fair in love and trade wars? Maybe that argument can be made.
You might play against him again.
But when he’s treated you that badly, it’s hard to argue he will ever really be your friend.