According to the BBC, the G20 leaders – the ministers representing the world’s twenty largest economies – left their two day meeting after publishing a communiqué in which climate change and the G20’s long-standing pledge to protect free trade were excluded. The changes were due to the new U.S. “president,” who has vowed to slash environmental protections and support isolationist policies that draw to mind those of the 1930's which we all know worked out so well for the world back then...
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble said the meeting had reached an impasse when it came to the issue, and added that his counterparts could not "force partners" - read the United States - "to go along with wording with which they don't agree".
Schauble’s comment was merely the polite way of saying that our current administration is again acting like a petulant child. A common refrain from the “president” and his aides is that he knows best what works best and what does not work best in politics (even though he has literally the least experience of any president in our history on such topics). Unfortunately, he rarely does know what is best and the world can tell.
When Germany’s Angela Merkel visited the White House, our so-called president refused to shake her hand. It was another humiliating moment for Americans, highlighting our continued loss of standing in the world and the fact that our representative to the world is an arrogant bully who represents all the worst things the U.S. has to offer – greed, cruelty, short-sightedness, and an unearned sense of entitlement. He lacks all the things a respectable leader should have – intelligence, gravitas, grace, thoughtfulness, commitment to country and people, or the ability to negotiate and dialogue in a meaningful and substantive way. In his first 100 days in office, the so-called president has proposed to increase defense spending by $54 billion while cutting money from more than 18 other agencies. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency would see its budget cut by over 30 percent, the departments of Agriculture, Labor and State would be cut by over 20 percent, and he proposes to eliminate support for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting entirely, among other things. The general rule of thumb is if it’s something that will protect the planet, animals and people, it’s a red light. If it’s something to create or support war, avarice or isolationism, it’s a green light.
The current U.S. “president” is creating a country that will be poor on all fronts – one with an uneducated, unhealthy and isolated populace. One that will impose severe import taxes on its citizenry in a country which imports practically, well, everything, while exporting very little other than the entertainment and innovation that the “president’s” policies intend to stifle and eliminate. This means two things for other world leaders: the current U.S., if it continues under the present leadership, is not and cannot be the leader of the free world. It is rapidly losing all respect and standing and will continue to drastically decline under the current administration.
While it is understandable that other world leaders, such as Ms. Merkel, are trying hard to do the right and professional thing and work with the U.S. “president,” it is like trying to work with any other illegitimate bully – like Korea’s Kim Jong Un or the Philippine’s Rodrigo Duterte – virtually impossible. So, world leaders should recognize there is a power void and they need to consolidate and work together to fill that void in a way that maintains the principles Ms. Merkel has talked about recently – liberty, freedom of speech and of the press, free trade, environmental protections, and collaboration across borders. The rest of the world can and should move on without us. The current U.S. will not just hold everyone back, it will do so in a way that imperils the health and future of generations. The bully that leads us will only continue to lie to and disrespect other world leaders and countries, delegitimizing us as a country and any agreements he enters into on our behalf with the rest of the world.
World, sadly, you may not need us anymore. We have money (but that may change soon), showbiz (and that may change soon, too) and innovation (that will definitely change soon if our "president" is allowed to continue, unchecked), but that’s about it. You need to step up, fill in the void, get together and forget about the angry, blustery little U.S. “president” for now. Save the world. If you have to leave us behind to do it – and you probably do – that’s ok.
It’s time to stand up for what is right. It’s time to disregard the bully and move forward without him. It’s time for G19 and an agreement that reflects a respect for and support of free trade and environmental protection.
Let’s just be honest: the U.S. “president” has abdicated, through his words and actions, the position of the leader of the free world. That title goes to Angela Merkel now and every decent leader who values the continuation of democratic principles of justice should rally around her.