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Hullabaloo


Friday, July 13, 2018

 

Blowing it up

by Tom Sullivan

As difficult as it is to think the sitting president follows any kind of strategy in world affairs, he does have a certain atavistic energy that, if steered, could do more damage to the world at large than he has already done to the United States.

Sneering at democratic leaders and sucking up to authoritarians and tyrants is his M.O., and on his global disruption tour 2018, he's already done the first in Brussels and London, the second in Singapore, and he's headed to Helsinki Monday for more sucking up to Vladimir Putin.

After insulting and berating NATO allies in Brussels over a security pact he clearly does not understand, Donald Trump headed to England to undermine Prime Minister Theresa May. May rolled out a red carpet for him at a black-tie dinner at Blenheim Palace. Rupert Murdoch's The Sun newspaper later published an interview in which Trump blasted May’s Brexit plan. May ignored his advice and opted for a "soft" Brexit plan, he said, which would doom a future trade deal with the U.S.

But that wasn't enough. Trump told the paper May-rival Boris Johnson would “make a great Prime Minister.” Johnson resigned from May's cabinet on Monday over her soft Brexit strategy.

Trump also took a swipe at London mayor Sadiq Khan, a Muslim, saying he had “done a very bad job on terrorism” by allowing migrants into the city. Trump will not visit London after Khan allowed protesters to fly a "Trump baby" balloon over London during his visit. "I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London," said the self-styled tough guy. “The ego has landed,” said a Daily Mirror headline.

But what happens at Trump's private meeting with Putin in Helsinki is more cause for concern than his ill-temper. Russia observers, both Republican and Democrat, tell The New Yorker's Susan B. Glasser they are resigned to Putin outmatching Trump. A former State Department official described the summit as "an amateur boxer going up against Muhammad Ali."

Glasser writes:
Beyond the allure of aggrandizement and the mystery of President Trump’s affinity for the Russian strongman, why the meeting is taking place now remains a mystery. Is the purpose to discuss arms control? Syria? Ukraine? To rehash the 2016 election? Remarkably, it’s not clear, and that in and of itself marks this as a most unusual summit. In Brussels on Thursday, after two days of, at times, openly hostile meetings with his NATO allies, Trump was asked whether he would consider scrapping military exercises in the Baltic states neighboring Russia if Putin asked him to on Monday. “Perhaps we’ll talk about that,” he replied, to the great alarm and consternation of Europeans who had been publicly reassured by American officials that Trump would do no such thing. Who knows? Despite the buildup, the Helsinki summit, the President acknowledged, is just a “loose meeting.”
Loose canon is more like it.

Methodical breakup

But perhaps the most worrisome tweet this morning comes in a thread from London journalist Paul Mason: Those moves are already underway.

If Trump has any defining characteristics, they are avarice and vengefulness. Besides those, others have observed Trump's tendency to reflect the views of the last person to speak with him. It is difficult to see an impulsive, needy, insecure, corrupt and cruel American president having any kind of focused strategy. Of his own.

The question is will Americans, Democrats, and Trump's own party do anything to stop him from blowing up the global order?

Update:

Do Brexit how you want so we can do a trade deal, Trump tells UK PM May

So which is it?
* * * * * * * * *

For The Win 2018 is ready for download. Request a copy of my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.