After a week of Donald Trump’s diplomacy, one thing is impressively clear: the US is not Montenegro. It won’t get pushed around by some bigger leader who wants to get ahead of the rest of the pack.
Trump wants to shut out the world. Ditching the Paris deal proves it
Simon Jenkins Read more
It won’t lead from behind when there are deals to be done, or undone, and redone. If there’s an international agreement on trade, security or climate change – especially one negotiated by a president not called Trump – then you know that agreement is living on borrowed time. Much like the planet itself.
No, the US is not Montenegro. It won’t accept a deal that involves some kind of trade-off or negotiation. The US shouldn’t have to pay billions for a climate change deal when it can pay trillions in sea defenses for no climate change deal. That’s the kind of long-range thinking you can expect from President Trump.
“At what point does America get demeaned?” he asked his rapt audience in the Rose Garden on Thursday, as his unusually golden comb-over glinted in the afternoon sun. “At what point do they start laughing at us as a country? … We don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us any more. And they won’t be. They won’t be.”
No they won’t. They won’t dare to laugh at an American president who takes a motorized golf cart through the streets of Sicily while his fellow leaders walk like pedestrians. They won’t laugh at a president whose handshake is a form of mortal combat where only one hand survives with its dignity intact. They won’t laugh at a president who thinks that saving the world is just another way to destroy the US.
Trump knows that this world is a zero sum game where the US is losing if someone else is winning. Nothing is shared on land, sea or air. Even the sea and the air.
“This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States,” Trump explained. “The rest of the world applauded when we signed the Paris agreement – they went wild, they were so happy – for the simple reason that it put our country, the United States of America, which we all love, at a very, very big economic disadvantage.”
This is the kind of insight unique to business moguls and global statesmen. Especially business moguls who become global statesmen. The first sign that your deal sucks is when the rest of the world is happy because human civilization might possibly be saved.
“A cynic would say the obvious reason for economic competitors and their wish to see us remain in the agreement is so that we continue to suffer this self-inflicted major economic wound,” said our totally non-cynical president.
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Nobody in the world knows more about self-inflicted major economic wounds than Donald Trump. This is his specialist subject. Even the Chinese and Europeans know how much he has mastered this topic, as they prepare to dominate clean energy science and technologies.
Granted there is the Special Relationship to consider: those ancient ties between Great Britain and the United States that mean the Brits are the Olympic athletes of self-inflicted major economic wounds.
Perhaps that’s why Trump’s Rose Garden speech sounded so much like Theresa May’s negotiating position on Brexit: that no deal is better than a bad deal. “So we’re getting out,” Trump explained. “But we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair. And if we can, that’s great. And if we can’t, that’s fine.”
As Samuel Johnson said about second marriages, this sounds like a triumph of hope over experience. And Donald Trump knows a lot about second marriages.
No, America is not Montenegro. It won’t get its hand squeezed to death by that annoyingly fresh-faced French president who keeps inviting American scientists to move to France. Emmanuel Macron promised that he would never turn his back on Americans, even if America was turning its back on the world. This from a man who literally turned his back on Donald Trump.
Ce soir, les Etats-Unis ont tourné le dos au monde. Mais la France ne tournera pas le dos aux Américains.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) June 1, 2017
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) June 1, 2017
France and Germany can lead Europe if they want. China can lead Asia and Africa if it wants. But Athe US leads the world in seeing the Paris accord for what it is: a last-ditch global effort to destroy Trump’s coal-mining votes in West Virginia.
What the world doesn’t realize is that Trump has torn up the Paris accord because he loves the environment so much. Not because he loves it so little. Trump carries an Amazon rainforest of concern about the climate: that’s what makes him so very upset about Paris.
“Not only does this deal subject our citizens to harsh economic restrictions, it fails to live up to our environmental ideals,” he explained. “The United States, under the Trump administration, will continue to be the cleanest and most environmentally friendly country on Earth. We’ll be the cleanest. We’re going to have the cleanest air. We’re going to have the cleanest water.”
See? This is good news, not fake news. Trump’s US will be the cleanest and friendliest and idealist about the environment, because Trump says he is “someone who cares deeply about the environment”.
“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” Trump told the world. Never mind that the good folks of Pittsburgh are citizens of the United States. Never mind that the Paris accord does more than represent those fascinating old ladies of the 16th arrondissement.
So get over it, Montenegro. Join the back of the line. And take the Chinese and the French and the Germans with you.
Trump has got Syria and Nicaragua in his corner, and that’s all he needs to lead.
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