I think we hit a home run no matter where we are …” President Trump at the end of his tour of the Middle East and Europe
Putting both feet in it
By Roger Childs
Donald Trump continues to demonstrate how America has moved from the sublime to the ridiculous in presidents. Whereas the articulate and dignified Barack Obama was very comfortable on the world stage, and was respected by foreign leaders, the brash and self-important Donald Trump has made a hash of his first overseas venture as US leader.
In the process he has got offside with Germany’s Angela Merkel and Britain’s Theresa May, and had a rather cool meeting with Pope Francis.
And now he has increased the damage done by pulling America out of the Paris Accord on Climate Change.
His motto seems to be if Obama did it, I will undo it.
Probably quite pleased with the Saudi reception
Probably his best efforts, in terms of how the host country reacted, were in Saudi Arabia. Here he was warmly welcomed, especially as he had a $US 110 billion arms deal to offer the Saudis.
This included precision guided munitions, which the Obama administration had not been prepared to provide, because of fears that they would be used to bomb civilians in Yemen.
The Saudi rulers, who do not allow gender equality, appealed to Trump’s vanity and the president pointedly said to them and other Muslim leaders that he was not there to lecture them.
We are not here to lecture, Trump said to an audience of about 50 political leaders of Muslim nations, many of which are lead by strongmen. We are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership, based on shared interests and values.
Then later on the same Middle Eastern trip he did lecture Muslim leaders: A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive Them Out. Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land, and drive them out of his Earth!
He arrived in Israel and told Netanyahu that he’d just been to the Middle East!
A somewhat uncomfortable session at the Vatican
Trump had been derisory about the Pope’s reaction to the Mexican Wall proposal in his presidential campaign. Originally he wasn’t going to visit the Vatican on his tour to Europe, but there was a late change of plan.
Whereas the presidential party rolled into the Vatican in a huge motorcade, Pope Francis arrived in a Ford Focus!
They exchanged gifts with Trump’s being a piece of granite from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial’s “Stone of Hope” statue in Washington, DC, and some of the civil rights leader’s writings.
The Pope handed over copies of three of his writings, one pointedly being on the environment and the need to heed climate change and reduce emissions. In the wider Vatican discussions Trump was urged not to pull out of the Paris Accord.
The formal photo of the Trump family and the pontiff looked very staged and while Trump grinned, Pope Francis looked as if he wanted to be somewhere else.
Not a great scene with European leaders
At the NATO meeting Trump angered Merkel, May and Macron by lecturing them on not paying their way in the military alliance. Then, in a bizarre photo opportunity incident, Trump pushed Montenegrin prime minister, Dusko Markovic, aside to get in the front row for the picture.
At the later G7 meeting, the leaders of the world’s most powerful economies were wanting to reach unanimity over climate change and trade. Chancellor Merkel, who is never one to mince words, said: The entire discussion about climate change was very difficult, if not to say very dissatisfying.
New boy on the block, French President, Emmanuel Macron won the handshake battle when he met Trump at the NATO meeting, but later looked for nice things to say about the American president. However his comment that Trump was a leader prepared to listen, rang a little hollow.
Again as in the Vatican, Trump was urged not to pull the US out of the Paris Accord, but he would not commit to this.
He did reluctantly agree to a statement being included in the final communiqué on reducing protectionism in trade.
Back home: America first
I’ve just returned from a trip overseas where we concluded nearly $350 billion of military and economic development for the United States, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. It was a very, very successful trip, believe me. President Trump
Nobody in the mainstream media has quite the same view! However this statement was a small part of a speech about how the economy has boomed since his election and, the big announcement on pulling out of the Paris Accord.
President Macron responded in Paris, with a plea for the US to work with the rest of the World on reducing emissions, and included an appropriate parody on Trump’s election slogan: Make our Planet great again.
(More on the climate change decision in a later Trump Card.)