The 2017 G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany this weekend has put the problems of the modern political landscape in clear view.
Between massive protests that turned violent, clear tensions between leaders of countries that are supposed to be close allies, and the President of the United States being mostly ignored by other presidents and prime ministers, the degradation of political norms was on full display.
Every year, the political and financial leaders of the biggest and most powerful countries in the world meet at the G20 to discuss a variety of issues from the climate, financial and trade deals, education, and pretty much all the other stuff that matters.
In the past, the G20 was basically a check-up between the most powerful and wealthiest people in the world. Now, the myriad of issues in the world, and the attitudes of the very leaders that are in place to solve them, have changed the context of the summit itself.
Obviously Donald Trump’s presence and behavior at the summit was one of the talking points at the G20.
Trump ran on a largely populist platform, and much of his “America First” campaign was designed on an anti-globalist agenda.
The G20 summit, where leaders of twenty of the most prominent countries in the world come together, is exactly the type of thing Trump has been so critical of in the past.
After meeting for two and a half hours with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, Trump spent most of the summit seemingly uninterested with the discourse.
When the heads of the most powerful countries in the world see zero value in talking to the POTUS pic.twitter.com/OMOxf7eJ0j
— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) July 8, 2017
On Saturday, Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka took her father’s place during a meeting.
The decision to have Ivanka Trump sit in on a meeting of world leaders was roundly criticized by many of Trump’s detractors.
Based on Ivanka Trump example, I'm going to ask Speaker Ryan if my son can sit in for me at the next House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing https://t.co/ZbApdkYixL
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) July 8, 2017
Nicholas Burns, a former NATO ambassador during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, told The Washington Post Ivanka’s presence was completely abnormal and just bad optics,
“This is a group of the 20 most powerful leaders in the world in the 20 most powerful countries in the world. It conveys that impression and we are a democracy and that’s also important here… Authority is not conferred upon family members because of the president’s position.”
A Trump official claimed there was nothing unusual about Ivanka’s presence,
“Ivanka was sitting in the back and then briefly joined the main table when the president had to step out. When other leaders stepped out, their seats were also briefly filled by others.”
The subject of the meeting, promoting women entrepreneurship in Africa, was also supposedly a reason for Ivanka sitting in on the meeting.
Perhaps Ivanka had some invaluable insight to offer in the meeting, and the president’s daughter probably knows more about this subject than the president himself, but having your own kid stand in during a meeting of global leaders and politicians just shows a lack of regard for the occasion.
Trump’s general attitude at the G20 summit was criticized by commentators from around the world.
Australian journalist and television presenter Chris Uhlmann’s scathing summation of Trump’s time at the G20 went viral.
— Insiders ABC (@InsidersABC) July 8, 2017
Uhlmann said of Trump,
“He identified an illness in Western democracies, but he has no cure for it. Rather he seems intent on exploiting it.”
Ulhmann went on to call Trump an “uneasy, lonely, awkward figure,” at the summit.
Trump critics pounced on Ulhmann’s report, but it turns out this Chris Uhlmann character… is quite the shithead himself.
reminder that ABC political editor Chris Uhlmann believes the Jews infected the US with communism. this is what he actually thinks pic.twitter.com/QXH7a4Sqqb
— Eleanor Robertson (@marrowing) July 9, 2017
Yeah, probably shouldn’t hold up an Australian reporter who thinks persecuted Jews fleeing Nazi Germany “transmitted the intellectual virus” of communism into the US.
Not sure why ABC even employs this dude, but that’s besides the point.
Regardless, it has become clear that Donald Trump wants the United States to be much less involved on the global geopolitical landscape and thus making the country less of a world power.
In fact, I go further, someday people may see this G20 as a bright line in history–when Trump began an American retreat from leadership.
— David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) July 9, 2017
Perhaps “American exceptionalism” was always a flawed concept, but it’s clear that Trump’s White House is hurting America’s standing in the world.
America’s true colors are being shown by our commander-in-chief and they ain’t too pretty.