Was this retaliation for South Africa repeatedly voting against the United States in the United Nations General Assembly?
Was it just a coincidence that US President Donald Trump rejected South Africa's request for exemption from tough new import tariffs on steel and aluminium, just after his UN ambassador Nikki Haley had warned Pretoria and other capitals that it might retaliate against them for voting so often against the US in the UN?
It's hard not to connect the two events. If they are linked, it would mean Trump has become the first US president since 1994 to make the ANC government pay for its frequent anti-US positions at the UN. Previous presidents have kept binational economic policy and multinational political policy separate from each other.
Trump issued two proclamations on Monday announcing exemptions to the 25% import tariff on steel and the 10% import tariff on aluminium, which he had announced in March. He extended exemptions for South Korea, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and the member countries of the European Union.
These exemptions are subject to negotiations on matters such as quotas. But Trump also announced that the tariffs would remain in place for all other countries. By implication,...