Home from Abroad
(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)
Donald Trump flew back to the US the day before I flew to Holland for a family visit. Before the president left for the G7 he slapped more tariffs on imports from China, called both Fed chairman Jerome Powell and China’s paramount leader Xi Jinping ‘enemies of the people,’ and ‘ordered’ US companies to get out of the latter’s country. In Biarritz, France, where the G7 was held, Trump said that he had second thoughts about the tariffs, raising some experts’ hopes that the president understood the damage they were doing to American farmers and consumers, but his remarks were followed by a statement from the White House that Trump meant the tariffs might be too low. Apparently understanding, however, that his actions were hurting his chances at getting re-elected, Trump continued his bizarre flip-flopping by suggesting that a deal with China was very close because the Chinese had already called him, something China denied. In Biarritz the president did not attend the session on the environment, in light of the fires in the Amazon rainforest probably the most important part of the event in the eyes of the other leaders.
From France Trump sent a number of ludicrous tweets, among others that the question he was being asked most by the other participants of the G7 was why the US media hate America so much. The president announced that he was strongly considering his struggling Doral Golf Course in Florida, a loss leader in the Trump Organization, as the site for the next G7, apparently because Doral has the biggest ballrooms in the state and no bed-bugs. Trump added that he didn’t want and was not going to make any money from the event, something that is even less believable than his tweet about the US media. Since France had surprised Trump by having the Iranian Foreign Secretary pay a visit to the G7 it is almost inevitable that the president will invite Putin to the next one, even though Putin’s presence in the US a couple of months before the elections may not help Trump, especially if there already are signs that Russia is again trying to interfere. When the president was on his way back to the US the news broke that on numerous occasions he had suggested to bomb, even to nuke, hurricanes that are on their way to the US, ‘to prevent damage.’
In Biarritz it became obvious that the G7 is now the G6+1. The other participants treated Trump like an irritable child and tried to take care of business on the side. At his closing press conference the president was good for a few more shockers. He lied that he had missed the environmental session because he had meetings with Angela Merkel and India’s Prime Minister Modi, who each were shown attending the session.
Another beauty was his declaration that Melania liked Kim Jong-un, although she never met the Korean dictator, and his re-branding of Xi Jinping as a ‘great leader,’ in an attempt to flatter Xi into a trade deal. The president called himself an environmentalist because he ‘likes clean air and water,’ and said that Obama could have prevented Russia’s annexation of Crimea by doing ‘whatever.’
In Amsterdam I decided to pay no attention to Trump for the rest of the week, which meant staying off Twitter, a welcome relief. Still, almost everybody I spoke with wanted to talk about Trump, and the two most common questions were: ‘how much crazier will he get?’ and ‘can he be beaten?’ My answer: we’ll see what happens.
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