It started three days after the Pew Research Centre poll that showed Donald Trump’s startling global unpopularity. Germany’s Angela Merkel slammed isolationism, protectionism and climate change denialism without mentioning President Trump by name. Members of Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union cheered when Mr Trump’s Commerce Secretary’s speech was cut off for going too long.
Future delights – of the July 7-8 G20 summit in Hamburg; Mr Trump’s Bastille Day trip to Paris – are unclear.
The truth is much of the world has profound respect for Mr Trump’s office but hardly any at all for Mr Trump. And it will – for the years Mr Trump is in the White House – affect the way foreigners regard America, Americans and their strange predilection for a large, dyed-blonde man with a foul mouth, a talent for insult and little interest in the well-being of anything other than his poll ratings.
As former US diplomat James Gibney recently wrote, winning a global popularity contest isn’t synonymous with defending US national security and advancing US economic interests but to be seen as unreliable, arrogant, intolerant and dangerous can have concrete policy consequences. “If other leaders know that their publics dislike, distrust and disrespect Trump, they have more political incentive to thumb their nose at him and spurn US demands and entreaties,” he explained.
I think that’s rather well put. And Mr Gibney should know. He was a speechwriter for Secretary of State Warren Christopher, National Security Adviser Anthony Lake and President Bill Clinton.