WITH TROUBLES EVERYWHERE, FOR HIM, TRUMP HEADS TO EUROPE
A successful development of an ICBM by North Korea, would "give decision-makers in Washington reason to pause for thought before deciding to strike the communist regime (Karl Dewey, an analyst with Jane's Information Group)
All the same, the G-20 takes place "amid a particular set of challenges. I'm convinced that we need the G-20 more urgently than ever before, because we can only move things together. Whoever believes that you can solve problems through isolation and protectionism is making a grave error (Angela Merkel, German Chancellor)
The latest test was cause for people to be worried. "Test-firing a ballistic missile just days after the Trump-Moon summit, where the two leaders discussed tightening sanctions against North Korea, is Pyongyang's way of sending a message of defiance to the US and South Korean leaders" (Jean Lee, Wilson Centre in Washington)
I urge the G20 states to continue working together on climate protection (Shinzo Abe, Japanese Prime Minister)
ith his head full of problems, Trump heads to Europe for his second foreign trip as president. A lot was on his mind when he boarded Air Force One on Wednesday, July 5. Remember that Mr. Trump was warned by Barack Obama, in one of their final conversations before he took office, that dealing with the threat of North Korea would be one of his most pressing challenges as president. And now it's so. And the whole world is gobsmacked!
The Independent wrote that after months of sabre-rattling from Donald Trump's administration, and a series of defiant weapons tests by Pyongyang, North Korea successfully fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the first time, which flew a trajectory, some experts said, that could eventually allow a weapon to hit the US state of Alaska. The test came days after Mr. Trump and South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, met in Washington to discuss further sanctions against its northern neighbor, and the US President said the "era of strategic patience with the North Korean regime has failed".
Trump claims to know better than his predecessors, who chose to ignore rather than confront North Korea for its provocations. Now, let him fix it, and let's see how!
North Korean state television said the test of the Hwasong-14, which took place on Tuesday July 4, local time, was overseen by leader Kim Jong-un. It said the projectile had reached an altitude of 1,731 miles and flew for 39 minutes before hitting a target in the sea. It said North Korea was now a "full-fledged nuclear power that has been possessed of the most powerful inter-continental ballistic rocket capable of hitting any part of the world".
While in Europe, President Donald Trump will visit Poland and attend the G20 summit in Germany.
In Warsaw, Poland, he's expected to deliver a speech, while attending a summit meeting of central and eastern European leaders likely to include Hungary's hardline Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, who, as AFP wrote, has sparred with western European leaders, especially on the refugee issue. The European allies are irked by Trump's visit to Poland, because of its right wing government that's now a threat to the democratic principles the Europeans cherish. Trump ignored the call to avoid the visit, and the Europeans are chagrined.
From Poland, Trump heads to Hamburg, Germany, for the two-day G-20 summit. There, he will have a marathon of meetings with other world leaders, and would be confronted by allies who have lost faith in him, as Transatlantic differences on climate change, trade, refugees and other issues are expected to flare at the July 7-8 meeting of world leaders from major industrialized and emerging economies.
Trump ends his second foreign trip with a highly-anticipated meeting with Russian President, Vladimir Putin, on Friday, July 7, on the sidelines of the G-20 summit.
As pointed above, Trump has been making empty threats against North Korea; the world will be watching and waiting to see how he would handle this snub. The Yahoo View noted this point by stating that all eyes will be on President Trump and President Putin when they meet at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on Friday, but also on how President Trump will handle North Korea's latest missile test.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is still defiant as ever, as he has vowed, on Wednesday, July 5, that his nation will "demonstrate its mettle to the U.S." and never put its weapons programs up for negotiations, a day after successfully testing its first intercontinental ballistic missile. In Kim's words: North Korea "would neither put its nukes and ballistic rockets on the table of negotiations in any case nor flinch even an inch from the road of bolstering the nuclear force chosen by itself unless the U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threat to the DPRK are definitely terminated".
The AP wrote that the hard line by Kim Jong Un suggests that North Korea will conduct more weapons tests until it perfects nuclear-armed missiles capable of striking anywhere in the United States. Analysts say Kim's government believes nuclear weapons are the key to its own survival and could be used to wrest concessions from the United States.
North Korean state media, on Wednesday, July 5, described leader Kim as "feasting his eyes" on the ICBM, which was said to be capable of carrying a large nuclear warhead, before its launch. It stated: "With a broad smile on his face," Kim urged his scientists to "frequently send big and small 'gift packages' to the Yankees", an apparent reference to continuing the stream of nuclear and missile tests Kim has ordered since taking power in late 2011.
The Korean Central News Agency reported that North Korea was also pleased that its test came as Americans celebrated Independence Day. State media said Kim told "scientists and technicians that the U.S. would be displeased to witness the DPRK's strategic option" on its Independence Day. The missile launch was a direct rebuke to U.S. President Donald Trump's earlier declaration on Twitter that such a test "won't happen!" and to South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in, who was pushing to improve strained ties with the North.
Many see this Trump's second foreign visit as a countdown to a disaster, because people are yet to get over the embarrassment of his last trip. It seems that Trump is unfit for the world stage, as he will only disgrace himself and his country over there. The ABC News opined that the meeting between Trump and Putin couldn't come at a more politically or diplomatically sensitive moment for both leaders. Trump faces pressure over the multiple investigations into his campaign's ties with Russia, and Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, as a special counsel and congressional investigators are currently examining whether members of Trump's campaign colluded with Russian officials before and during the 2016 election. There are also questions on whether the president will stand up to Putin's aggression in Ukraine, as well as his support for the Assad regime in Syria.
It has been alleged that Putin will mesmerize Trump, as he's a consummate politician, and using his KGB experience, he will daze Trump, and may cut out concessions at America's expense. We're learning that the Kremlin released a statement in which it said Putin will demand the return of two diplomatic compounds seized by the United States in 2016 under orders by then-President Obama after Russia's interference in the U.S. presidential election.
What puzzles many is Trump - Putin's long-range bromance, as they wonder if there's more to it than meets the eye. It's inconceivable that a president of the United States will have such a favorable opinion of a leader of "an enemy state" like Russia. Trump and Putin have spoken over the phone three times since Trump took office; this will be their first face-to-face meeting.
There's the fear that Trump will be cowed before Putin, and will not have the liver to bring up the issue of Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election. Moreso, when Trump has reluctantly acknowledged the meddling, after months of denying it happened, and later blamed his predecessor for not stopping it. ABC News noted that Trump has repeatedly railed against the investigations as a "hoax" orchestrated by the Democratic Party, but his statements have done little to reduce the political pressure.
The grey cloud hanging over the two leaders' when they shake hands in Hamburg will no doubt be the ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the election, as well as potential collusion with Trump campaign officials. The administration's reluctance to say whether Trump will confront Russia on its suspected election meddling is now contrasted with Trump's own statements in recent weeks criticizing the Obama administration for not doing enough to punish Russia for its activities. In contrast, former President Obama has said he used his G-20 meeting with Putin in September 2016 to confront him on the hacking.
The problem is that even as Trump blames his predecessor for not punishing Russia for any interference in the election, he, himself, has not put any precautionary measures in place to stop Russia's interference in future U.S. elections.
Trump will be in a fix, during the meeting, and no matter how it goes, he will be the loser, and this is due to his own making. Expectations are not high, as foreign policy experts say it sets up a likely "no-win" situation in terms of the outcome of the meeting. The ABC News quoted Fyodor Lukyanov, chairman of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, as having said: "Trump will be unable to move on U.S.-Russian relations, even if he would like to, because Russia's policy remains toxic in U.S. domestic politics. His handshake with Putin, though, will no doubt cause another political tsunami in Washington, which will further undermine their prospects for interaction."
In the event there's consensus or compromise on an issue, Trump will be labeled by some as kowtowing to Putin's demands. The ABC News noted that an American official also expressed doubt that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election would play a prominent part in the meeting, viewing it as a waste of time and "a loser of a topic." It's a striking admission, considering the high-stakes nature of the meeting and Putin's reputation to meticulously plan and prepare for potential scenarios that would show him having the upper-hand optically.
Steven Pifer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, said that "For Trump to let the meeting pass without raising the issue at all could earn him bipartisan scorn. If he doesn't, he comes back here, I think, to a firestorm. He'll be criticized by the media, he'll be criticized by people like me, and he'll be criticized by Congress."
Steve Pifer continued: "My concern about the meeting is that Vladimir Putin will come into that meeting extremely well prepared. I think that's been the experience of President Clinton, President Bush, and President Obama that this guy knows his briefs. There's a certain risk that President Putin could describe something that sounds really good, and President Trump will say yes before he fully understands some hidden downsides. And if the downsides are discovered afterwards and the deal falls apart within a couple of days that actually puts U.S.-Russia relations in a bigger hole."
On the other hand, if Trump decides to grow into a man before Putin, and, according to Jeffrey Rathke, deputy director of the Europe Program at Center for Strategic and International Studies, there's some sort of heated confrontation, it could further exacerbate tensions between the U.S. and Russia. In his words: "There clearly are risks when you've got a foreign policy process as disorganized as it appears to be in this administration. There is a risk of making commitments in one -- in one field that could impinge on other interests that haven't yet been fully discussed in an inter-agency process."
The NYT confirms that even his top aides do not know precisely what Mr. Trump will decide to say or do when he meets President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia face-to-face. And that is what most worries his advisers and officials across his administration. If Mr. Trump's first foreign trip in May was a chance for him to escape turmoil at home - staff infighting, a stalled agenda and the Russia-related investigations - his second thrusts him into the maelstrom. And at the center of it, Mr. Putin awaits.
Let me end this with Chumpin's tweet that Putin will try and keep a straight face while sitting across from our twittering fool, then go home, call his pal Xi Jingpin, and the two will have a good laugh at our expense. Yea, they see his tweets, they know what a fool he is, they laugh at his self declared "modern day Presidential". He is not acting beneath the office of President; he is acting beneath the behavior of an adult, any adult.
ABC News' Rick Klein summarized it thus:
Body-slamming Kim Jong Un is not a viable option. We're talking about the brink of a real war with North Korea, with a regime that's clearly prodding President Trump and seeming to like the attention so far. We're talking about a foreign trip that will be capped by a real meeting between Trump and Vladimir Putin, an exchange that will carry vast implications both foreign and domestic. We're talking about a legislative agenda on the recess firing line, with town halls heating up and health care blowback stirring. It leaves the president in an unfamiliar position, reacting, rather than driving the agenda. We know the president's views on counter-punching, of course. But these are crises that can't be solved in 140 characters. "Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?" Trump tweeted, an apparent reference to North Korea's leader. Things are getting serious again, and quickly.