0n the 7th and 8th of July in this year of 2017 the G20 Hamburg Summit met in that city in Germany. The G20 Meeting is held yearly at a different city. In 2016 it was at Hangzhou in China. In 2018 it will be at Buenos Aires in Argentina.
The leaders of 20 major nations, that are permanent members, are present. They deal with the issues of international concern to all modern countries. Present in alphabetical order were the elected heads of Argentine, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, and the European Union. In addition the presidents of Guinea, Netherlands, Norway, Senegal, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, and Vietnam were also present. The heads of the following prominent organizations also were represented: World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Financial Stability Board (FSB), United Nations, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Labor Organization (WTO), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OEDC), and the World Health Organization, (WHO).
In addition to dealing with international trade, climate change, and energy policy they emphasized global economic growth, international trade and financial market regulation, mainly issues of global significance.
President Donald J. Trump, who represented the United States, marched to a different drummer from practically everyone else. As the world’s greatest negotiator, by his own admission, he tended to flaunt how America came first and generally disagreed with many established positions and scientific beliefs held by the other countries and world organizations. The other leaders tended to be polite to him while ignoring both him and the United States. Many had met him earlier when he had removed the U.S., from supporting the stoppage of climate change, at a prior meeting. He had denied that its occurrence was being brought about by the release of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. A Republican position supported by the U.S. oil industry which contributes heavily to the Republican Party.
In fact Trade Agreements were formulated around him. Japan and the European Union seem to be in the process of working out a free trade agreement between themselves. The assorted nations tended to mostly ignore Trump.
When it comes to diplomacy Trump is a rank amateur. Unlike what he has done in business he can’t bully his was through. Trump works on the premise that everyone needs the cooperation of the United States. It was true at the end of World War II and into the 1950s with the Marshall Plan. It is certainly not true today with many nations far ahead of the United States with healthcare and also in other areas.
Both the European nations and those in Asia rebuilt after the Second World War. Their infrastructures date back to that period. The U.S. infrastructure dates back to the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. The world can easily get along without the United States, if necessary. If Trump cancels or attempts to renegotiate the varies Trade Agreements that the U.S. has signed or refuses to sign new ones then all the other nations involved can make agreement without the U.S. being involved. If necessary the U.S. can be totally ignored.
With Trump’s basic attitude that America Comes First, which he usually announces, he can by his basic crude negotiating skills bring about a trade war between the United States and all its traditional allies. Will this happen? Apparently that depends upon Trump’s actions in antagonizing all the United States’ former friends.
Trump’s basic attitude has been erratic toward the U.S. allies and treaties. He has been approving toward semi-dictators and dictators like Vladimir Putin. He has spoken about renegotiating all American trade treaties, which he calls “terrible.”
So far, five months into his presidency, he has not attempted to renegotiate or even negotiate anything. He has loudly complained about China selling or “dumping” cheap steel in the U.S. and disagreed with and essentially upset all America’s traditional allies.
It is interesting to note that earlier when Trump was building his Trump Towers he used cheaper Chinese steel in building some of them. He seems to call upon everyone else to do what he now considers proper but did not do himself.
If he does generate a trade war by placing a 20% tariff on Chinese steel or otherwise with the rest of the world by placing heavy tariffs upon their trade goods, all the other nations of the G20 have stated that they will reciprocate immediately. The overall effect of that upon the U.S. would be to raise the price of all trade goods 20% or more and have all other nations essentially stop purchasing American goods. The effect would not only be a significant rise in the cost of all imports it would also generate large scale unemployment for goods and services and bring about an immediate overproduction of food products that ordinarily would be exported. So much for the world’s greatest negotiator!
Trump took a giant step at the G20 Hamburg Summit. In essence he took the first major step in reducing the U.S. from being a major nation, a leader among the industrial nations, toward becoming a secondary country in the world today. He did this by disagreeing with the other 19 permanent members upon the concept of global warming, international trade, and most other policies brought up. In the main his attitudes are based upon what he knows and believes. Scientific or other forms of proof have nothing to do with his conclusions. He just knows what he knows and seems to be incapable of learning anything new.
Trump has successfully alienated the leaders of the other nations present at the G20 Summit so that most of their agreements bypassed the United States. He very successfully removed the U.S. from a leadership position.
Of far more interest to Trump was a meeting with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin. The meeting was scheduled for 30 minutes, it lasted over two hours. Present were Trump and Putin. In addition Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was present with Russian foreign minister Serget Lavrov and two translators. Trump did not have any of his foreign policy experts at the meeting. He winged it.
Among other things, early on Trump asked Putin directly if he had interfered in the American Presidential Election and Putin answered that he did not. This to Trump apparently was absolute proof that Russia had not interfered in the election. The fact the every American intelligence agency had come to other conclusions was immaterial. Putin had given his word so it must be true. A few days later when it emerged that his oldest son, Donald junior, and son-in-law and advisor, Jared Kushner, had colluded with a Russian lawyer in June before he was elected to office apparently is immaterial.
It was their first face to face meeting. Trump shook Putin’s hand several times from a seated position for Russian news photographers. No American news person was allowed into the meeting.
The object of this face to face get-together was for the two leaders to look beyond the 2016 Presidential Election controversy and for the two countries to find a way to move forward from there. There was no specific agenda. The topics were whatever President Trump wanted to talk about. Presumably the conversation covered a range of subjects which included Ukraine, Syria, North Korea nuclear threats, terrorism, and cyber security.
In fact Trump wanted to cooperate with Russia in setting up a combined cyber security task force. When he returned to Washington, D.C. Republican members of Congress and advisers talked him out of this. Trump, who never backs off anything he says, declared that he was testing the waters and would have separate cyber security.
It was announced later that the two nations along with Jordan had brokered a cease-fire agreement in the southwest of Syria to take effect on Sunday.
No agreement was reached on the two diplomatic compounds in the United States, one in Maryland and one in New York, which President Obama had taken as part of the sanctions over Russia’s behavior in the 2016 Presidential Election. Presumably they have been used for spying. No agreement was reached on North Korea.
The meeting was extremely cordial between the two presidents. U.S. officials were surprised by the Russian state news agency’s immediate release of photographs of the visit. These showed Trump and Putin engaged in jovial conversation.
Obviously Trump had used one half of one of the two G20 Summit days in an attempt to upstage the meeting, draw attention to himself and attempt to debunk the fact that Russia had interfered with the U.S. Presidential Election. To Putin and Russia the face to face meeting was important because it showed Russia as an equal with the United States, demonstrating to the world who the two dominant powers are. The meeting was celebrated as a victory on Russian state media.
Ordinarily when the leaders of nations meet for major negotiations the meeting is planned well in advance with an agenda strictly worked out by subordinates of both nations. The leaders have specific purposes in getting together. It is a major event.
In this case it was on Trump’s part almost a casual event. Actually he wanted to dispel the fact that Russia interfered in the U.S. Presidential Election. He did not succeed.
In fact it would be a little over a week later that his oldest son, Donald Trump, Jr. would publically state that he had colluded with a Russian lawyer to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton in June well before the Presidential Election. In admitting this and saying he would cooperate with the government Trump Jr. verbally changed what happened, to date, three times. And the number of Russians present has also increased. Will there be more revelations from him?
Now Donald, Sr. is busy justifying what his son did, stating that anyone would have done this and totally ignoring the fact that his son committed a federal felony, which, in anybody else’s case, would now have them in prison awaiting trial for having committed a serious crime.
What we have seen at the Summit is the world’s greatest amateur, in the name of the United States, deal with other nations; being friendly to adversaries and unfriendly to former friendly nations. Will this behavior go on for another 3 1/2 years?