President Donald J. Trump has made no secret of his disdain for a world order that has the United States on an equal footing with other industrialized nations. Since taking office in January 2017, Trump has made it known that America should be calling the shots on the major issues affecting the globe, from trade to immigration to political alliances.
And while that attitude has endeared him to his ardent supporters, it has alienated many leaders around the world who believe chaos will reign without rules governing the behavior of nations.
Last week’s G-20 summit in Argentina highlighted the tensions that now exist because of Trump’s heavy-handed tactics, especially when it comes to trade.
Five words spoken by the president aptly reflect his opinion of the value of such meetings:
“Get me out of here.”
According to The Independent US newspaper of Britain, Trump was recorded off camera as saying that to an aide at the end of the summit as he walked off stage – even as other world leaders gathered for a photo.
Here’s the newspaper’s portrayal of what occurred:
“ ... footage shows Mr. Trump shaking hands with Mauricio Macri, the Argentinean president, before rapidly walking off stage.
“Mr. Macri, who stretched out a hand after him, appeared confused by the U.S. leader’s behavior and was left alone in front of the photographers.
“An aide then rushed across the stage after Mr. Trump who, off camera, can be heard saying ‘Get me out of here.’”
The newspaper reported that Trump eventually returned to the stage to pose for group photos with the other world leaders.
To be sure, Trump’s unwavering stand when it comes to unfair trade practices long embraced by America’s trading partners, especially China, is necessary and appropriate.
The Mahoning Valley has been the victim of the dumping of steel and aluminum from China, Russia, India and other countries that has undermined domestic producers.
We strongly support the president’s imposition of tariffs on products made abroad that are priced artificially low.
That said, we are concerned about Trump including America’s allies in his broad-brush approach to international trade.
The tensions he has created with Canada, Britain, France and Germany are counterproductive and unnecessary.
It does not appear the meeting of the leaders of the Group of 20 countries and central bank governors eased any of the tensions, although a senior White House official told the Associated Press that the joint statement issued at the conclusion meets many U.S. objectives.
The official stressed that the statement includes language about World Trade Organization reform that Trump has consistently demanded.
There are other elements – workforce development and women’s economic development as well as a commitment by China to provide infrastructure financing to the Third World on “transparent terms” – that the Trump administrations sees as positive outcomes of the summit.
But on the important issue of climate change, the president remained firm in his opposition to the Paris climate accord. The U.S. withdrew from the pact last year, and Trump even brushed aside a White House report that warns of major environmental catastrophes if steps aren’t taken to eliminate the causes of the extreme changes in climate.
Nonetheless, French President Emmanuel Macron pointed out that the U.S. signing on to the final communique of the summit was a victory, given the tensions going into the talks.
But Trump’s “America First” view of how the most powerful nation on earth should deal with the rest of the world served as the backdrop for the summit.
Thomas Bernes of the Canada-based Centre for International Governance Innovation, who has held leading roles with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Canadian government, said the U.S. was out of step on migration and climate change and blocked meaningful agreement on those issues.
Thus the question: Is President Trump right in believing the U.S. holds all the cards and the rest of the world has no choice but to play its game?
Time will tell.