Citing national security is just a way to justify automotive tariffs. It is the same for the tariffs the U.S. imposed on all steel and aluminum imports. In the case of Canada—which historically has had an even balance of trade with the United States—the U.S. put tariffs in place for over a year on their steel and aluminum exports. It is hard to see what has changed relative to “threats to our national security” that those tariffs on Canada are not needed.
It is fairly obvious that the basis of the United States’ current trade strategy is to use tariffs as a regular practice to gain a competitive trade advantage outside the realm of free market economics.