Friday, November 30, 2018 at 8:57 AM

G20 Argentina: Forget the Tango between Trump and Xi and Putin…

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

The real story is the way Argentina greeted President Trump upon his arrival at this annual Kabuki dance.

After all, here is what Trump said when China denied Obama the red-carpet treatment upon his arrival at the G20 summit in 2016:

You see that? They have pictures of other leaders who are … coming down with a beautiful red carpet. And Obama is coming down a metal staircase. …

I’ve got to tell you, if that were me, I would say, ‘You know what, folks, I respect you a lot but close the doors, let’s get out of here.’ It’s a sign of such disrespect.

(The Washington Post, September 5, 2016)

How ironic, if not telling, then that Argentina treated Trump much as China treated Obama. You’d be forgiven for thinking he ordered attendants on Air Force One to close the doors to get out of there. But he did not do so. Instead, like all bullies who get punched in the face, Trump marched into this snub like the proverbial emperor marching with no clothes on.

Frankly, it was bad enough that the high-level delegation that greeted Chinese President Xi Jinping was not there to greet him. But Argentina compounded that insult by not even having the military band and red carpet there to hail Trump’s arrival the way they hailed Xi’s. Not least because everybody now knows how much Trump loves military and regal pageantry.

Pictures juxtaposing their arrival speak volumes about how – in just two years – world leaders have gone from treating Trump like a laughingstock behind his back to treating him like a lame duck to his face. Only this explains the “logistics flub” that had Argentina treating this putative leader of the free world like a tinpot dictator from a banana republic.

No doubt they are all emboldened by the legal noose Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is tightening around Trump’s neck, making him, in effect, a dead president walking.

As it happens, I presaged Trump’s isolation and humiliation on the world stage in “G20 Hamburg: Much Ado About Nothing,” July 7, 2017, and “G20 Hamburg: Trump Clueless, Friendless, and Feckless (and those friggin’ Trump kids!),” July 12, 2017.

Incidentally, apropos of Mueller, Trump is making much ado about canceling a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He’s claiming that this is punishment for Russia seizing Ukrainian ships in international waters earlier this week.

But everyone knows that such a meeting would appear too incriminating even from Trump. Because his former lawyer Michael Cohen admitted in court just yesterday that he lied repeatedly during the 2016 presidential campaign to cover for Trump’s ongoing solicitations of Putin to do business in Russia. This, while Russia was executing cyberattacks to help him win that election.

Equally noteworthy, even if less newsworthy, is the fact that he also canceled a bilateral meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS). But here too he had little choice.

After all, even Republicans are venting incredulous outrage at his incriminating willingness to believe the word of yet another autocrat over the findings of his own intelligence agencies. In this case, Trump refused to accept the CIA’s finding that MbS ordered the assassination of The Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

This moved Republicans to join Democrats in voting to rebuke him in unprecedented fashion yesterday:

The US Senate has advanced a measure to withdraw American support for a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, in a blow to President Donald Trump. …

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis had urged senators not to back the motion, saying it would worsen the situation in Yemen.

(BBC, November 28, 2018)

Meanwhile, thusly snubbed, Putin and MbS consoled each other by schmoozing openly – complete with high fives like sports teammates celebrating an improbable victory. Hell, you’d think they flew all the way to Argentina just to bond as “blood brothers” with a penchant for invading neighboring countries and ordering extraterritorial hits on their critics.

But they were clearly trying to show the world that, far from snubbing them, Trump was shamefacedly avoiding them. Indeed, no less a person than New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez tweeted that Putin and MbS were conveying

That feeling when you own the president of the United States and can do whatever you want.

Actually, the picture of their blood-curdling camaraderie is all the more telling for the lurking image of Trump’s scowling face in the background.

In truth, though, it appears Xi is the only leader not snubbing or being snubbed. For example, there’s also the tango afoot between Theresa May of England, Emmanuel Macron of France, and Angela Merkel of Germany over Brexit. Which is why this Chinese president can fairly claim that he has finally supplanted the American president as not just the most influential but also the most respected leader in the world.

Related commentaries:
G20 much ado
G20 Trump clueless
Putin assassinations
MbS assassination
Putin menacing Ukraine

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