Trump Heads to Europe on Second Overseas Trip
Anyone who though that Trump’s first trip overseas – first to Saudi Arabia and then later to a contentious G7 meeting – was aberration need only to look at his second trip to learn how they were wrong.
Rather than make the G20 meeting the keystone of his trip, it has become an afterthought as he heads to Poland for a tumultuous reception, meets with Central and Eastern European leaders, meets with Russia’s Putin, while the G20 meeting in Germany, probably will be just (was) as contentious as the G7 meeting in Sicily.
In the past, US presidents would first visit traditional US allies like Britain, France, and Germany on such a trip. However, Trump is breaking with tradition.
The first stop was in Poland, which finds itself in agreement with many of Trump’s policies. It is one of the few NATO countries meeting its defense spending obligations, it is fighting the EU immigration quotas being imposed on it, and it is bristling at Germany’s (and Merkel’s) overbearing attitudes on European Union policy.
Poland plans (displayed) an elaborate reception for Trump as he gives a major speech in Warsaw. Trump’s address in Warsaw will be (is being labeled) an “uplifting speech” that will focus (focused) on Poland’s history of perseverance and its national identity. The visit to Poland will (meant to put) emphasis (on) the anti-EU feeling in Poland and celebrates the sale of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Poland in order to reduce that country’s reliance on Russian LNG.
Trump will also be addressing (addressed) 12 Central European, Baltic, and Western Balkan European leaders. The subjects will be (was) the Russian potential designs and EU issues that these nations are not in agreement with.
Trump then travel to Hamburg, where he had a bilateral meeting with German chancellor Angela Merkel. Although the communiqué of the meeting will (did) focus on unity, the actual talks will be (were) frank, especially on issues like immigration, trade, and the EU. Stressing the need for common ground on Turkey and the war in Syria.
On Friday, Trump held a much-anticipated bilateral meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin, the first personal meeting between the two leaders. Undoubtedly one of the major issues will be (was) North Korea’s latest missile launch, which occurred early Tuesday morning and traveled nearly 600 miles before landing in the Sea of Japan.
Some scientists think the missile could reach Alaska.
This will be (is) an issue of concern for both the US, and Russia, which borders North Korea. The Pentagon has confirmed the projectile was an intercontinental ballistic missile, indicating that Pyongyang continues to advance its weapons program toward a goal of a long-range nuclear capability.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released a statement on Tuesday saying the United States “strongly condemns” the launch. China and Russia have also condemned the launch, although they have warned the US to avoid military exercises with South Korea.
“Global action is required to stop a global threat,” said Tillerson. “Any country that hosts North Korean guest workers, provides any economic or military benefits, or fails to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime. All nations should publicly demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences to their pursuit of nuclear weapons.” Tillerson also said the United States will “never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea.”
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, requested convening (convened) an emergency session of the Security Council over North Korea’s action.
The US has made it clear that they are running out of patience. General Vincent Brooks, Commander of Combined Forces Command and General Lee, Sun Jin, Chairman of the Republic of Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff, made a rather forceful combined statement directly warning North Korea they’re prepared for war at any time.
“Self-restraint, which is a choice, is all that separates armistice and war. As this Alliance missile live fire shows, we are able to change our choice when so ordered by our Alliance national leaders,” said Gen. Brooks. “It would be a grave mistake for anyone to believe anything to the contrary.”
“Despite North Korea’s repeated provocation, the ROK-U.S. Alliance is maintaining patience and self-restraint,” said Gen. Lee. “As the combined live fire demonstrated, we may make resolute decisions any time, if the Alliance Commanders in Chief order. Whoever thinks differently is making a serious misjudgment.”
The North Korean issue will also be (was) brought up with other G20 nations. President Trump spoke individually with both Chinese president Xi Jinping South Korean president Moon Jae-in, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday evening, hours before North Korea’s launch, He will meet (met) with all three leaders at the G20 this week.
One topic will be (was) how to respond to North Korea. Military personnel from the United States and South Korea conducted a joint missile drill in the Sea of Japan on Tuesday in response to the North Korean action.
Undoubtedly, additional economic sanctions will not be effective because the US and other nations are already severely restricting their trade with that nation. Nor will cyberwarfare since the North Korean computers are so isolated.
There is also the possibility of military action by the US and others. The North Korean missile facilities are especially vulnerable and could be damaged by cruise missile attacks.
Could North Korea retaliate by striking the US with an ICBM? According to reports, the missile was liquid fueled and it took some time to fuel it according to US spy satellites that watched the whole operation. This means the time it takes to start fueling the ICBM and then launching it is longer than the reaction time for Trump to order a cruise missile attack on the facility.
There are also questions about the missile’s accuracy and its ability to carry a nuclear warhead.
Of course, there is also the threat of a North Korean artillery strike across the DMZ or the jailing of additional American citizens in North Korea. However, North Korean artillery can be taken out in air strikes but after inflicting serious damage in South Korea…..
Some experts warn that North Korea could launch an EMP electro- magnetic pulse attack.
North Korea isn’t (wasn’t) the only subject of conversation with Putin. Syria would have been (is) the major subject if it wasn’t for the latest North Korean missile launch and it will still take (did take) a major part of the discussion. Trump and Putin need to develop (developed) some “rules of engagement” for the two nations in Syria. (Tillerson statement on Syria prior to his departure from Washington is most likely outlined the outcome of discussion ….)
Other Russia-US issues will be (was) the US confiscation of Russian diplomatic land in New York and Maryland last year. Russia hasn’t retaliated for the action, but has made it clear that they either get their property back or they will take action.
Trump, along with other NATO countries will bring up (discussed) the increasing military tension between NATO and Russia along their common border.
There also remains the issue of Russian involvement in Ukraine. Trump will make (made) it clear that economic sanctions will remain in place until some movement takes place. As with the NATO-Russian tension, there will not be (was not) any easy solution that can come out of the G20 meeting.
Russia and China just met a few days ago and Trump will have bilateral meetings with Xi as well as Putin.
On Friday and Saturday, Trump will also have (had) bilateral meetings with the leaders of the United Kingdom, France, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Mexico, Singapore, and Indonesia.
Some of these meeting will go (went) better than others. Although there are some areas of disagreement between the US and the UK, the Trump meeting with the British Prime Minister May should go (went) well.
The biggest friction will be (was) between Trump and the leaders of Germany and France – Merkel and Macron.
Several days ago, Macron summoned over 900 politicians from both houses of the French parliament to a Congress at the palace of Versailles. He threatened to overrule the legislators with a referendum if they try to stop the “reforms” he wants to impose on the legislature.
Reuters reported him as saying he desires to reign like “Jupiterian” president – a remote, dignified figure like the Roman god.
This bizarre statement came just days after Macron scrapped the president’s traditional Bastille Day press conference. An Elysee Palace official claimed the president’s thoughts are “too complex” for journalists.
Macron’s attitude has also rubbed other national leaders the wrong way as he is considered merely a puppet for Merkel.
Hungarian premier Orban has dismissed Macron as a “new boy” who hasn’t found his feet.
“Macron’s entrance wasn’t too encouraging, as he thought the best way to show friendship was to immediately kick Central European countries. This isn’t how we do things around here,” Orban added.
The former Italian president Berlusconi was even more brutal as he referred to Macron’s youth and inexperience, compared to his wife who is 25 years older than him. “He is a nice lad with a good-looking mum,” he said.
While many may be looking at how Trump handles the G20 meeting, it would be wise to look at other fractures in the group. Eastern and Central European nations will likely move away from France and Germany and towards American positions. This will especially be true in regard to immigration, where several Central and Eastern European nations are guarding their borders against additional immigration (Austria just moved troops to its border with Italy to stop the immigrants).
Germany may find the bulk of the G20 nations bristling against German leadership, while the French president may learn that no one takes him seriously.
Trump will have some PR victories – especially with Eastern and Central European countries. But, relations with France and Germany will remain chilly.
As with most international summits, everyone will get something and no one will come away totally pleased.