Trump on tour

It’s hard to pick a highlight, but for me this David Rowe cartoon of Trump paying his respects at 10 Downing Street after a gala welcome and a sedate dinner gets the gong:

The trip began with NATO, where:

  • He blasted allies for not spending enough on defense, calling them “delinquent” and even suggesting they double their commitments.
  • He repeatedly interrupted NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, at one point making Stoltenberg praise him.
  • He insulted Germany, calling it a “captive to Russia” because it imports energy from the country.

That was just the beginning. Whatever you think of NATO, Trump’s performance was chaotic and insulting. CNN checked a sample of his facts, which were just wrong.

In the end Trump claimed victory in what looked to everyone else like chaos. Maccron and Merkel say nothing changed in relation to their commitment, but in the end NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg:

    abandoned a session discussing moves towards Nato membership for Georgia, diplomatically sensitive because it sits on Russia’s flank, and beefing up Nato’s role in Afghanistan.

    He cleared the room of all non-Nato leaders, from countries such as Georgia and Afghanistan, and held a closed session with Trump and the other 28 Nato leaders.

    Stoltenberg said: “We had a very frank and open discussion … That discussion has made Nato stronger. It has created a new sense of urgency. A clear message from President Trump is having an impact.”

Trump’s visit to Britain was accompanied by a 6-metre balloon of POTUS:

Trump criticized Theresa May’s Brexit strategy, praised Boris Johnson as a potential leader and said if the UK does any kind of deal with the EU it could threaten a trade agreement with the US. Theresa May says Trump wanted her to sue Europe (in what court?)

Trump was unconscionably rude, but do you know, he could have been close to the mark. May’s Brexit strategy looks a dud and has left her nowhere.

To the Europeans, the EU is more than an economic union. Four elements are indivisible – free movement of goods, services, capital and people. May’s plan sees free movement of goods only, but in doing so, having to accept EU standards applying to the production of goods. For the hard-line Brexiteers, that is too much.

As a result Andrew Rawley in the link above reckons she will be 60 votes short on her own side when she brings the plan to parliament, which she must. Then the Irish are never going to accept a hard border.

It’s a mess, but Trump’s intervention actually gives her a better chance. People don’t appreciate being told what to do by a narcissistic git like Trump.

And a Britain with a smashed economy is not in Europe’s interest, so something might be cobbled together.

Then there was the meeting with Putin in Helsinki. Trump’s people have been trying to keep him away from Putin, lest he give away the family silver.

For Putin, the meeting itself was a win. Russia is not a superpower. It’s economy is about a fifth of that of the US and of the EU, behind India, Japan and Germany, ahead (probably not for long) of Indonesia and Brazil. He wants to be taken seriously.

The EU can’t forgive him for what he did and is doing to Ukraine, which goes well beyond the annexation of Crimea.

The meeting, I think, exceeded Putin’s wildest dreams, but has achieved the impossible – bipartisan outrage with Trump behaviour seen as ‘disgraceful’ as the US president sides with Russian leader over election meddling.

Donald and Vlad being best buddies in solving the world’s problems is superficially fine and good, but accepting Putin’s assertion that Russia did not interfere with the US election is extraordinary when Moeller indicted 12 real Russians with names and has now gone on from there:

    The special counsel’s team has now indicted 32 people and three Russian companies and secured five guilty pleas — with several of Trump’s former associates also agreeing to cooperate. Mueller appears to be far from finished.

Derek Shearer, former US ambassador to Finland, thinks it may be a watershed moment in Trump’s presidency.

Meanwhile A Russian newspaper editor explains how Putin made Trump his puppet

    “They consider him a stupid, unstrategic politician.”

That was before the meeting from a newspaper often critical of Putin.

I think Davis Rowe’s cartoon, appearing after NATO is brilliant and prescient.

Putin has succeeded in landing the out of control, chaotic Trump.

17 thoughts on “Trump on tour”

  1. With this one I have heard diverse times that Trump has been saved from bankruptcy by Russian oligarchs who are mainly interested in his business to launder money. I think this would be worth investigating, but I’m not going to spend time on it.

    Today I listened to NPR on ABC NewRadio (can’t find the link). The criticism of Trump was almost universal.

    An ex-FBI bloke interviewed said both parties would have bugged the room, but no, you would not get anything out of the translators.

  2. Think of what Trump did in a different way. For example, what he said about Brexit was right on. May is living in dreamland if she thinks she can have a soft Brexit which retains economic links and get independent free trade agreements with countries outside of the EU. In addition Trump helped May by praising Boris – who the hell is going to support someone who Trump has glowingly supported?
    Think NATO: The problems it has with Russia are basically about Russia supporting the aspirations of the Russian speakers in places like the Ukraine. There is also the problem of economic giants like Germany expecting the US to keep on paying more than its share despite the US balance of trade problems .
    Think China: Closer links between Russia and the US make good sense in terms of keeping China in its place.
    Think the poor in the US. A lot of them have lost their good paying jobs and dignity because their jobs have moved overseas because of free trade.
    Some people might say that a bit of disruption is required to drive people to sort out problems that have been allowed to grow. This includes the undemocratic political processes that allowed someone like Trump to be elected. If you had to pick an unorthodox disruptor it would be a bit hard to ignore Trump.
    A term of Trump might be something that the US and some other parts of the world need.

  3. John, I’m not sure about “need” but your point is well-taken. There has long been an argument, for example, the NATO which had a point during the cold war is now very much in Russia’s face, and drives them into trying to disrupt NATO and Europe generally as a matter of self-defence.

    However, Europe can’t stand idly by and let pass what Putin has done in Ukraine, shooting down a passenger plane and assassinating people on the street in England.

    Nor can the US tolerate Russia messing with their elections.

    In the end Trump had advice from 17 intelligence organisations saying Russia had interfered with the election. When the question was put directly, he said, Nup, my good mate Vlad says he didn’t do it, so he didn’t.

  4. May be drawing a long bow here, but Donald’s response reminded me of an infamous moment in the Australian House of Reps, 1950s.

    Opposition Leader “Doc” Evatt is on his feet, excoriating the Petrov Royal Commission (out of which he had earlier been thrown). Bert Evatt starts saying that he doubted the USSR had been spying in Australia, but to make absolutely certain of the point, he had “written to Mr Molotov” who had assured him that no Soviet espionage had occurred.

    Govt benches erupt in astonished laughter. Bewildered ALP backbenchers join in.

    This example of seeking and assessing evidence was offered in public by a former High Court judge. (So let’s not feel too superior about Trumpean antics.)

  5. I’m not surprised at all by Trump’s antics in Britain and Finland. All of which stands in sharp contrast to the wealthy, astute, intelligent New York property developer of 1985; he is hardly the same man. Now, he is plainly unfit to rule; not different but unfit.

    But so to was the Bush Dynasty. Emperor George I and his evil wife were clever, very clever, but should never have been allowed to ascend the throne. Their son, Emperor George II was such a fool that he cannot be regarded as anything better than Caligula’s Horse.

    The great republic of the United States has been dead since Jimmy Carter handed over power and it will never return; it has been replaced by this strange, unreliable, weak Monarchy of The Temporarily United States.

    I do feel sorry for all those good people over in America; their worst is yet to come.

    John D., I can understand your point of view but I’m a lot more pessimistic about what will happen to the Americans because of Trump and his shenanegans..

  6. Latest is that Trump now says he mis-spoke at the news conference and did not say what he meant at the time.

    So he has now resorted to a familiar approach for him when he is cornered – the lie direct.

  7. Bilb: A small dose of Trump may be seen in hindsight as a good thing. However, the longer he stays the more the downsides will become important.

  8. I’ve been listening to NPR’s All things considered.

    I think this one was mostly on Trump.

    Seems Trump’s base will stick with him no matter what, and it seems the Trumpistas control the GOP.

    The Chinese are hitting them where it hurts with trade retaliation, so we’ll see how that all works out.

  9. I forgot to mention, All things considered is on ABC NewsRadio every day at noon.

  10. Tom Switzer talked to Stephen Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Russian and Slavic studies at New York University, Professor Emeritus of Politics at Princeton University.

    Cohen reckons Trump was spot on. He says interfering in other countries election has been going on since the year dot. It’s business as usual. The main thing, he says, is about nukes. They need to keep a lid on nukes.

    Then he talked to Tony Abbott, who actually made a fair bit of sense. Abbott says, go ask Poland and other counties who share a border with Russia about whether they need NATO.

    Abbott says we should concentrate on our own patch.

    I don’t think Europe can regard Russia with equanimity. Its own economy doesn’t work on a rule-based order enough for it to be admitted to the WTO, and it continually tries to disrupt democracy in European countries.

    Germany has a whole branch of its judiciary dedicated to rooting out and countering the Russian mafia. Russia needs sort itself out before it joins the community of civilised nations.

  11. I see that a bloke called Norman Abjorensen writing in the SMH also sees a distant echo of “Doc” Evatt in Mr Trump’s siding with Mr Putin. Hi Norman!

    (I am not Norman.)

  12. don’t think Europe can regard Russia with equanimity. Its own economy doesn’t work on a rule-based order enough for it to be admitted to the WTO,

    The WTO membership list shows Russia as a member since 2012

  13. jrkrideau, seems you are right. On 22 August 2012 the EU issued a press release welcoming Russia’s WTO accession after 18 years of negotiations (make that 19):

    After 18 years of negotiations, Russia joins the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as its 156th member today. This accession is particularly important for the EU, as the EU is Russia’s first trading partner and Russia is the EU’s third trading partner. For the first time both entities will be bound by multilateral rules and obligations for their mutual trade.

    Seems the Swiss negotiating the difficulties with Georgia was the last hurdle.

    Seems the change in leadership to Dmitry Medvedev was also a factor at the time.

  14. Graham Bell, please don’t remind me of Lee (Brown) Rhiannon and her belief that Butskellism will return. Even British Labour accepted that, to be electable, the great bulk of Thatcherism was irreversible.

  15. On ABC 7:30 broadcast last night there was an interview with Madeleine Albright, link here. The transcript included:

    ELLEN FANNING: I was astonished to read in your book that Donald Trump’s line “drain the swamp” by which he means get the vested interests out of Washington is taken directly from Mussolini who said ‘drenare la palude’ which means “drain the swamp”.

    Does Donald Trump have the instincts of an authoritarian?

    MADELINE ALBRIGHT: Well, I was fascinated to see that Mussolini said the same thing in Italian – it kind of sounds better, frankly – but I think that one of the things about Trump is I’m often asked whether I think he is a fascist.

    He is not a fascist, I don’t think, but from an American perspective, he is the least democratic president we’ve had in modern history, and what he has done is, in fact, identify himself with a tribal group.

    He really has no use for the others and thinks that they don’t have any rights. He has labelled the press the enemy of the people.

    He has no regard for our judiciary, and he really is somebody that sees himself as the saviour, always right, “the stable genius” as he calls himself.

    Worth a look. And this statement (bold text my emphasis) was memorable:

    ELLEN FANNING: To what extent, in your opinion, is the problem with Mr Trump an ignorance of history?

    MADELINE ALBRIGHT: I think that there is no knowledge of history. I believe that, and if there were, I don’t think that he would be doing the kinds of things he is doing.

    I don’t think he is a student of history. He is a student of hotels.

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