At the G20 summit last week in Hamburg, Germany, President Trump and Russian leader Vladimir Putin announced a cease fire in Syria with an eye toward a larger, more permanent solution to the conflict.
They also announced they will work together on other areas, including preventing cyber attacks.
President Trump met with Theresa May, prime minster of the UK, and hinted a “very, very big deal, a powerful deal” that will be “great for both countries” is on the way.
He talked North Korea with Xi Jinping, leader of China, and Sinzo Abe, leader of Japan, as well as trade and security with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who invited him for a visit. He met with the leader of Singapore, one of the world’s freest economies, to discuss trade.
He scored a clear policy victory with language in the final communique that recognized the right of countries to “limited trade defense instruments” – also known as tariffs – to combat, in this case, dumping of cheap steel in the U.S. by China.
He scored another by convincing some European Union countries to “work closely … to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently,” and talked up liquefied natural gas from the U.S. as a backstop against Russian attempts to exploit EU countries by cutting off their gas supplies.
Recep Tayyi Erdogan, president of Turkey, requested and got a one-on-one meeting with President Trump to discuss the Syria situation.
At a meeting on women and entrepreneurship that included Abe, Angela Merkel of Germany and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the president pledged $50 million to a World Bank fund for women entrepreneurs that he said would transform “millions and millions of lives.”
President Trump also pledged $639 million in aid to the World Food Programme to address drought and conflict in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen. Emmanuel Macron, France’s new president, was so excited to see Trump again that he pushed his way to Trump’s side at a photo shoot for the world leaders.
One could be forgiven much or all of the above because it certainly wasn’t given prominent display in the daily papers. There, the talk was: “European leaders ban together to oppose Trump on trade, climate,” which led in the Washington Post with a paragraph on how “the growing international isolation of the United States under President Trump was starkly apparent.”
Much was made of Trump’s standing alone outside the group on the issue of global warming. Like it or not, the president has made his decision on global warming. He doesn’t think it’s that big or immediate a threat, he refuses to spend money time or lip service to pretend he does, and his top economic advisor, Gary Cohn, said it was “not a situation where there was contentious discussion.”
“The other 19 nations’ leaders all reached an agreement stating the accord is “irreversible,” leaving the U.S. as the only one out,” said Newsweek. Which would be news if the U.S. had not already withdrawn from the agreement.
Newsweek also took Trump to task for what many thought was his strongest speech to date before hundreds of thousands of Poles in Warsaw on the eve of the G20. It was nit-picking of the type often heard on playgrounds.
“Trump painted the external struggle against threats like violent extremists as being tied to an internal struggle to defend “Western values,” wrote Josh Lowe, a Newsweek columnist.
To Trump’s comment that: “We can have the largest economies and the most lethal weapons anywhere on earth. But if we do not have strong families and strong values, then we will be weak and we will not survive,” Lowe said, “He didn’t say exactly how ‘strong families’ would resist, for example, the threat from North Korea, which he warned about Thursday morning.”
Wrote the Independent in a headline: “The G20 proves it. Because of Donald Trump, the world no longer looks to America for leadership.”
“The US President was out of step with almost everyone and didn’t seem to care,” read the second headline.
There were some things he didn’t accomplish. He made some inroads on North Korea but did not leave with a plan that has significant buy-in from players in the region. And the trade and economics issues are not over for him.
But President Trump doesn’t care that much how other leaders view him. Unlike his predecessor, he is not there for them. He is there for the people he governs. And regardless of what one reads in the mainstream media, he is leading and world leaders are talking to him.