Let's here it for the rainbow tour,
It's been an incredible success,
We had our doubts, we weren't quite sure,
But the answer is yes, Trump avoided a mess ...
Or did he?
It started well in Saudi. Posters on the way from the airport featuring Trump flattered the ego. A trade deal and arms deal gave the President an easy win. General agreement the Iranians are the bad guys, part of an axis of evil with, along with North Korea, the Germans and the Democratic Party assisted the visit. So much for peace prospects in the Middle East as the Sunni - Shiite schism is confirmed.
No clangers about civil rights and the rights of women, the President was on his best behaviour. The Saudis had their fun. Trump took part in a traditional dance with men, clutching swords. All caught on camera. Later he was seen clasping an orb to open the Global Centre for Combating Extremist Ideology. King Salman of Saudi Arabia and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi played along, clearly enjoying the irony. How they must have tickled their ribs in Riyadh after he had gone. Melania refused to hold hands and no wonder.
Israel next. The secret service were not to pleased about sharing data with the Russians. No mention of the embassy move to Jerusalem. Trump vowed to bring peace to the Middle East and to resolve the Israeli Palestine conflict on his next trip. How difficult can that be? A visit to the wailing wall. Trump posted a message, presumably asking for a quote for the Southern Border.
As with the Evita trip, things started to go wrong in Italy. Bad news from Rome, he met with the Pope. The Pope made some remark about the President's weight, suggesting he had been eating too much cake. Trump received a book on climate change as a gift from the Pope and a diet tip sheet. The President promised to read the Papal Missives later but not before he arrived in Brussels.
NATO and the G7 visits didn't go well. Trump asked NATO countries to stump up and pay their dues. Trump acts like the membership manager at the Mar-A-Lago country club, collecting overdue fees and bar tabs. We can't be sure he gets this NATO thing at all. The good news, Trump asked the members of NATO to spend more on defence (and U.S. weapons systems in particular). More resources should be committed to the fight against terrorism, who can argue with that. The President was all too vague on the commitment to Article 5. The important bit about NATO, were we all stand together in the face of a common enemy like Russia!
Nothing was to stand in Trump's way, including the Prime Minister of Montenegro. In a great cringe-worthy moment, Trump shoved Montenegrin leader Dusko Markovic to the side, pushing to the front of the pack to preen for a photo-op. The battle of the handshakes became of critical press concern as President Macron got the upper hand, clearly well briefed on the Trump Push-You-Pull-You-Welcome technique.
Trump trashed Germany in a meeting with EU leaders on Thursday "The Germans are bad, really bad. Look at the millions of cars they sell in the U.S." White House economic advisor Gary Cohn was forced to explain the president doesn't consider one of America oldest and closest allies to be "bad" It is simply their trade policy, based on world-class highly competitive manufacturing exports (and a manipulated currency!).
No commitment to the Paris accord and the climate change agreement, the President headed home "job done". Good cop in the Middle East, bad cop in Europe, allies bewildered, the Saudis were thrilled.
Back to the U.S. the White House staff face the Mueller "special investigation" and the prospect of huge legal fees, innocent or guilty. A staff reshuffle in prospect, the President is hiring legal counsel to vet his tweets. Imagine that a lawyer confining his comments to just 140 characters. Tough hire ...
That's all for this week from The West Wing, Whisky, Tango, Foxtrot ... You can check out the series of blog posts here or leave any comments on the Facebook page here
|The Saturday Economist|
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