Donald Trump's farewell tour - Macleans.ca
 

Donald Trump’s farewell tour

The world has taken measure of the president and found a person not to be taken seriously. It’s the end of the American century.


 
U.S. President Donald Trump adjusts his jacket after pushing past Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic the NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. (Kevin Coombs/Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump adjusts his jacket after pushing past Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic the NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. (Kevin Coombs/Reuters)

There is a tradition among embassy staff called the “Wheels Up Party”. An official overseas visit by a president or prime minister will inevitably mean months of gruelling preparatory work. The diplomats, security staff and advance teams from the home capital will exhaust themselves ensuring even the smallest detail has been planned out, tested and tested again before the delegation arrives.

When the leader is finally in town, it is not uncommon for embassy staff to work 24 hours straight, keeping track of every moving part, adjusting on the fly and praying that nothing goes wrong. Then, after the meetings have met and the sites have been seen, they will stand on the tarmac to watch their leader board his airplane, taxi and takeoff.

And when they can see the wheels on the aircraft retract, meaning their VIP is officially someone else’s problem now, there is a collective whoop of relief, and everyone heads back to the embassy to crack into the duty-free liquor for the biggest party of the year.

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I imagine the Wheels Up parties at the American embassies in Saudi Arabia, Israel, The Vatican, Brussels and Italy this week, after President Donald Trump flew off on Air Force One, were among the biggest in living memory. I cannot think of another visit by an American leader that was in as much peril of going horribly, horribly wrong. But to the relief of many and surprise of more, it didn’t. When you think of the possible misadventures, I must assume that the mood among American diplomats was joyous.

There were still a few cringing gaffes, of course. At the NATO summit, for example, the world was treated to the sight of Trump pushing other leaders out of the way so he could preen in front of the cameras. If Alec Baldwin had acted out the scene during one of his Saturday Night Live appearances, it would have been too over-the-top to get a laugh.

We were looking so hard for these sorts of pratfalls that some important items were largely ignored. Consider that Trump chose Saudi Arabia as his first overseas visit, committed to an unprecedentedly large arms deal with Riyadh, and then invited almost every Sunni leader in the world to listen to his speech. America is now officially picking sides in the Middle East’s long and bloody Shia/Sunni rivalry. This is a move that will inevitably only increase tensions in the Middle East.

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In Israel, Trump revelled in one of the coziest visits in decades between a sitting U.S. president and an Israeli leader. One White House press release had the dateline “Jerusalem, Israel” which, in the arcane world of diplomatic subtleties, was a big step towards the United States recognizing that city as the Israeli capital—another move that will only increase tensions in the region.

But even these diplomatic developments were not the real story. While Trump was feted in the Middle East, he was treated with surprising indifference in Europe. For the first time since the Second World War, an American president stood among allies, not as a first among equals, but almost like an outsider—someone who had to be invited, but who no one really was going to take very seriously.

At one point, Trump used a commemorative address to instead complain that NATO allies were being unfair to “American taxpayers”. The other leaders standing nearby exchanged wry looks; a few even seemed to roll their eyes. By all accounts, there was no scramble to appease the president, no panic among delegations about how to “defuse” the American anger. No one really cared that much. Likewise, when the president refused to endorse the Paris Climate Agreement, or NATO’s policy of mutual defence, no one was willing to bend even a little to mollify the Americans. They shrugged.

READ MORE: Trudeau’s G7 agenda meets Donald Trump’s worldview

Even a month ago, the reaction would have been entirely different. When Trump came to power there was universal agreement he had to be treated with kid gloves, he had to be taken seriously, otherwise who knows what chaos he would unleash. But now, no one seems especially worried. Rapidly, over the last few weeks, America’s rivals and allies stopped seeing the United States as the “indispensable nation” whose opinion mattered, whose approval was always necessary.

What changed? The world has a much better measure of the man now. They see him as inconsistent—even if you convinced him on Monday to support the Paris deal, he will quite likely repudiate it Tuesday morning in a tweet. He has also proven so ineffective in controlling the bureaucracy and even his own party, it is unlikely that a repudiation will change much any time soon.

And beneath all of that is Trump’s unprecedented ignorance—Merkel at one point was reduced to showing him a map of the former Soviet Union to explain Russian objectives in Eastern Europe. What is the point of trying to get his support on one issue or another when he has literally not even read the summary of the relevant briefing note?

Trump’s first world tour may well end up also being his farewell tour. Not because it will be his last, although with the accelerating pace of the Russian scandal that is not impossible. But rather because it marked the official end of the American century—when Air Force One took off and finally headed back to Washington, it left behind a new world where the United States no longer counts, where America has effectively abandoned the field to Europe, China, and Russia. Wheels up.


 

Donald Trump’s farewell tour

  1. So the Merkel map thing happened in March during her Whitehouse visit, and it wasn’t presented because of Trump’s ignorance. You really have to contrive your articles so poorly just to keep your narrative alive? You write your article firstly, from what you get of the internet, and secondly, as if the European leaders are a group to be impressed with. They’re not. Trudeau was outstanding though, wasn’t he? :(

  2. ‘President Trump is like a ‘loud and tacky drunk tourist who shoves his way around the dance floor’ says one of his OWN officials after infuriating G7 world leaders ‘

    Yup, that’s about it. The Ugly American.

  3. You do err in thy judgement, hence you’ll also Gail to apologize when it’d to. Since when did the opinion of Europe or Canada weigh in on what the USA is was or will be. Too quick to judge, and history will probe you wrong. But such is life in the great white north.

  4. Interesting who branded POTUS ignorant, loser, etc etc. Neither a Repub or Demo but as one with an eye for winds of change, DJT probably fits the most imaginative President ever as he follows no map nor status quo and hires his family. Interestingly as his claim to fame his heart seems to be in the right place amid all the misunderstanding of the boors of the media circuit!

    • paid shill , confirmed.

  5. Wait until #45 learns that NO ONE will buy his cars if he backs down on environmental regulations.
    Already the Carrier plant (remember when #45 said he saved them) has said it’s going to lay off 638 workers. Even Trump’s International Hotel is planning lay offs. Bring back coal jobs….I don’t think so.
    How exactly are they going to replace the Mexican workers…

    • Maybe Ivanka and Jared are going out to pick lettuce??

    • Who exactly is “no one?” Also, I have heard this thing about Mexican workers many times. Legal workers with work visas are welcome. It is the illegal ones that aren’t. Many veggie farms hire illegals which simply gives them the upper hand to abuse them, where is the outcry over that?

      What’s wrong with bringing back coal jobs? you do realize the technology exists to produce coal-fired plants with scrubbers that can reduce the emissions to almost nil, right? They actually did this at a generating station near me. Spent billions retrofitting a power plant with the most advanced scrubber system only to abandon the plant a mere 8-10 years later, benefitting no one…except Liberal cronies. The reason for the lay-offs at the Carrier plant aren’t even related to the earlier reasons for actually moving the plant to Mexico. Honestly, does everyone simply digest and regurgitate what they are fed from MSM without doing any research themselves?

      This hysteria over the Trump administration is interesting. Since when is it the rest of the world’s business who is in the captain’s chair? America needs to look after America. I have to wonder what is the end game? The globalists, including Trudeau with his wish for the first “post-national state” are just angry that their quest for world domination has a wrinkle in it. You may think of this as a conspiracy theory, but I do suggest you and all those who are so anxious to see this US administration fail do a bit of research into who actually controls the strings of our Western Civilization and how another group is pushing for it to fail. It may sober you up a bit, but it would take a bit of critical thinking, something abviously not taught anymore.

      • A dairy farmer wanted to replace 2000 Mexican workers…guess how many Americans showed up…38. NO ONE WANTS THESE JOBS.
        Coal is not going to be a big employer, they will use machines to mine it.
        Jobs are jobs…if they are different reasons for the lay offs does it really matter to the workers.

      • “You may think of this as a conspiracy theory, but I do suggest you and all those who are so anxious to see this US administration fail do a bit of research into who actually controls the strings of our Western Civilization and how another group is pushing for it to fail.”

        This is national socialism. Packaged for easy public consumption it says nothing of who those string pullers are (hint: its the jews). We don’t need violence or extremism in this country. #uck off.

  6. “America is now officially picking sides in the Middle East’s long and bloody Shia/Sunni rivalry. This is a move that will inevitably only increase tensions in the Middle East.” Get a grip-ISIS is all Sunni-that’s why he gave his address to a Sunni audience!!

  7. Poorly written and nothing insightful. A few choice nuggets: Gilmore declares, as if this is groundbreaking, that America has “officially” taken sides with the Sunnis, a move sure to heighten regional tensions. Really? Did Gilmore just start following Mid East politics last month? What does he think Obama did? He was an unabashed Shiite champion from Day 1, infuriating the majority Sunni countries and leading to the destabilized status quo that prevails today in the region. Maybe Gilmore should hold his tongue about Merkel’s map lesson and pull out a Reader’s Digest on ME politics for the last few years, even century. And- really? A US President – in this case Trump – being shunned by the Europeans is another earth shattering first? I’m no Trump fan but if you’re going to go at him at least have a rudimentary knowledge of history. Nothing is more off-putting than smug ignorance. Discrediting this piece – on a factual, never mind principled, basis – is like shooting fish in a barrel.

    • Seriously. Gilmore is such a hack, and there are so many others just like him these days, not just at Macleans but all over the media. It must take less than 15 minutes to poop out an article like this. You just scan the headlines for all the latest Trump drama, change the wording a bit and give it some grandiose title about how “this is the end for Trump” and then just wait for the check from Macleans to clear.

      I have to say, I’m also no fan of Trump but I don’t think that his presidency so far has been such a radical departure from previous administrations. He’s reversed some policies of his predecessor, he’s ruffled some feathers of allies – these things have happened under the watch of many previous POTUS. The key difference here is the intense 24/7 focus on Trump as a personality/supervillain. We saw a similar dynamic with Fox News during the Obama years but this takes it to a whole new level.

    • As opposed to the West, Saudi Arabia and or Israel being at war with Iran being more favorable than doing a nuclear deal. Get a grip on reality. The Middle East has been divived and at war over secterian lines for centuries. The US certainly favors Sunni domination but only to a point, that neither side escalates their conflict or disrupts the flow of oil. The move today over Qatar shows that the US plan is deteriorating. Thats the responsibility of the man child we call Mr. President.

  8. Predictably, Macleans falls into step with all mainstream media, wanting to maintain the decrepit status quo in Europe, even as it flushes itself down the multicultural toilet.
    Then in stomps brash, boorish Donald Trump, tells EU leaders they aren’t paying their fair share and announces they can smarten up, pay their bills or forget about the long-established U.S. babysitting service.
    And what do Merkel et al do? No one agrees that they should cough up a single euro. They all want the freebies without any responsibility.
    Europe has created a quagmire for itself and the U.S. isn’t going to bail it out this time.
    Pity. But then again, no. The U.S., more than any other nation, is capable of going it alone.
    Europe, on the other hand (which is in America’s pocket), is sacrificing its culture, its history, its economy to a destructive ideology. In the end, which isn’t far off, the U.S.A. will stand, as will Russia, Japan, China … and Macleans will be gone, along with other mainstream media that couldn’t predict the future if its head found a crystal ball up its own derriere.

  9. “the world” is just offended it has been asked to pay its way in NATO. Why on earth has the US maintained a military presence in Germany ever since the war? It is ridiculous. Let them provide their own defense, or else pay their way in NATO. As others have pointed out, by allowing such an influx of “so called” Syrian refugees (most of which are from Africa ) into their countries, they are faced with huge bills for looking after them, and are finding they are bringing their women hating, gay hating culture with them. If they do not smarten up, Europe is lost.

  10. By my count this is number 23,654 in Scott Gilmore’s “End of America”
    articles in Macleans.

    • And still at “0” on the steady drip, drip, drip of illegalities of the Obama admin (EPA, IRS, NSA, ad nauseum) and the inevitable disastrous collapse of yet another socialist state in Venezuela.
      Gilmore- Try being a real journalist, or go get a job at MacDonalds.

  11. I liked the article. It was well written, and informative. I too get the feeling that despite all the hullabaloo he creates, he is sinking America into becoming a ‘meh’ country. That aside, he does have some dangerous ideas, driven by money and fame.