The G-20 Summit basically took place in Hamburg, Germany, this weekend, and one rather amazing trend is emerging.
The United States is increasingly isolated, undermined, and distrusted by other world leaders.
Indeed, we are seeing the darker side of Trump's emphasis on "America First," now, as the rest of the world is essentially calling Trump and the United States out on being overly insular and Americentrist.
What is becoming clear is that for all the desire by millions of Americans to have the United States be an exception to the rest of the world, the rest of the world is letting Americans know that they are not exempt from the laws that govern over the rest of the world.
Case in point, the rest of the world is holding the United States, and President Trump specifically, to task for denying the reality of climate change, and for continually threatening to impose tariffs on trade.
Trump made a lot of promises during the campaign, and some of these promises were contradictory. Indeed, one of the main criticisms leveled against him by many detractors, both on the left and on the right. But certain things he was absolutely clear about. He was going to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it. He promised that he would "repeal and replace" Obamacare, and that everyone would be covered under his plan. He was going to institute an "America First" policy, and promised that this would not only make the United States respected again around the world, but that under him, the United States would start winning and winning. In fact, he assured us, we Americans would get so used to winning under a President Trump, that we would grow tired of it.
There were other promises that he made, as well. He promised that he would divorce himself from his businesses, and he also promised that he would release his tax returns. Oh, and ISIS was going to be defeated, easily, within 30 days of his taking office.
All of this, and he even suggested that the job of being president would be easy. After all, he had run his business empire for many years, and he touted his own successes there (never admitting to any failures), and suggested that he would do for the country what he had done for his businesses.
Trump has now been in office for almost half a year. Trump never divorced himself from his business interests, and never releases his taxes, suggesting now that he really has no intention to anymore. Mexico still is refusing to pay for the wall. Trump has not even approached ISIS on any real level. His healthcare bill, which was not even really his, but which he is putting his weight behind, would see tens of millions of Americans lose their healthcare. He did institute the "America First" policy, but we are still waiting for the country to start winning under his supposedly superior guidance. In fact, it sure looks like the rest of the world is starting to laugh at us or distrust us, or shake their heads in disbelief and disappointment. Or, some combination of all of these, which is actually what is happening.
Merkel did not call out President Trump by name, but she made clear who her criticisms were leveled at, suggesting that "virtually everyone believes we need free but also fair trade."
"However, I can foresee that the sherpas have a lot of work ahead of them tonight to hammer out the communiqué on trade, and I hope that they will present us with a good result tomorrow. But I don't want to beat about the bush, the discussions are very difficult.
"As you know, almost everyone is committed to the Paris Agreement. But it will also be very interesting to see how we word the communiqué tomorrow and make it clear that there are, of course, differing opinions on this topic, because the US has sadly withdrawn, or wants to withdraw, from the Paris Agreement, and that is obviously playing a part in our discussions."
The main points of contention between the other nations and the United States under Trump were climate change and trade, where President Trump has repeatedly threatened that he might impose tariffs on other nations.
Merkel warned that this would be an unwise approach. She stressed that "markets need to be kept open."
"This is all about fighting protectionism and also unfair trade practices."
Merkel also strongly blasted the Trump for announcing that he would be pulling the United States out of the Paris Accord.
"Unfortunately -- and I deplore this -- the United States of America left the climate agreement, or rather announced their intention of doing this."
Nor was Merkel the only prominent world figure who leveled serious warnings at Trump's "America First" way of thinking, which almost all other world leaders, including and perhaps especially traditional allies, are all quite leery of.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested that "strong economic growth and environmental protection can go hand in hand."
"This is the narrative that we have been sharing ... and was enthusiastically supported by just about everyone here at the G20."
Yes. In fact, this view was shared and supported by everyone, except by President Trump, who of course represents the United States.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker suggested that the European Union would have to react to tariffs on European steel by imposing their own tariffs, quite clearly insinuating that Trump's threats, if seen to their fruition, could lead to a trade war.
European Commission President Juncker said:
"We've got to look at protection when it comes to steel imports. It's necessary for the EU to react in an adequate and appropriate way when it comes to steel. We've got to take measures to ensure that we act properly when it comes to imports from other parts of the world."
"I cannot go into details now, but we will react. We will take counter measures in the hope that all of this will not be necessary."
So, the rest of the world is calling Trump out on his bluffs. He is in a position now, and a rather predictable one (if tens of millions of Americans who voted for him were paying attention, that is), where he has to either back down on his promises, or go ahead with then and risk disaster.
In announcing that he was pulling the United States out of the Paris Accord, he claimed that he would be open to opening new negotiations with new terms, for the United States to remain in the Paris Accord. But world leaders all roundly rejected making any exceptions for the United States, and they are right to do so. After all, historically speaking, it is not likely that any nation has produced more pollutants that contribute to climate change than the United States has, and for the United States, of all countries, to deny the reality of climate change (so that major American corporations can continue to exploit natural resources with impunity, despite how obviously tremendous the damage that they are doing is) is the height of hypocrisy. It speaks poorly of us to have elected a man who denies climate change, having claimed that it is a hoax invented by the Chinese to hurt the American economy.
Even when Trump is coming through on his promises, it is having disastrous results that clearly show his weakness as leader. Yes, he pulled the country out of the Paris Accord, or will, in any case. But 11 states and dozens of cities and businesses across the country decided to keep to the terms of the Paris Accord in spite of, or perhaps because of, Donald Trump occupying the White House.
His wild claims that America would just keep winning and winning if he were elected during last year's campaign are already proving false. He did not defeat ISIS within 30 days. He did not force Mexico to pay for the wall. World leaders are not shaking in their boots, and in fact, do not have greater respect for the United States than they previously had.
In fact, quite clearly, it is just the opposite.
For once, Trump even had to admit that he was mistaken in his belief that the job of president would be easier. He also clearly underestimated how difficult it would be to create a decent healthcare plan, or even to get one passed.
He did not wave a magic wand and make everything right again. In fact, it seems clear to thinking Americans, as well as to the rest of the world, that he is failing, and making matters worse. The United States is worse, and likely far worse, because President Trump is at the helm.
The rest of the world has caught on to the fact that Trump is a fraud with a big mouth, but without big capabilities to match. Does it not make you wonder why tens of millions of Americans seem so insistent on not seeing this obvious fact for themselves?
G20: World leaders at odds with Trump on trade, climate Merkel says US' stance could derail progress By NIC ROBERTSON AND ANGELA DEWAN , CNN, July 08, 2017:
G20 closes with rebuke to Trump's climate change stance by ANGELA DEWAN AND STEPHANIE HALASZ, Jul 08, 2017: