Loose cannon Trump unveils salvos — in Europe - GulfToday

Loose cannon Trump unveils salvos — in Europe

Michael Jansen

The author, a well-respected observer of Middle East affairs, has three books on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The author, a well-respected observer of Middle East affairs, has three books on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Queen Elizabeth with Donald Trump

Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth and Donald Trump at a meeting of leaders of the Allied Nations. File/AP

There was little domestic interest in Donald Trump’s high profile meetings with royals in London, brief encounter with the Irish prime minister at Shannon airport and carefully scripted words at the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the World War II D-Day landings in Normandy.

His domestic antics and tweets and foreign missteps elicit shrugs from anyone seriously following his news. Supporters from his 30-plus per cent “base” do not care about how he behaves or what he says: he is their man for good or ill. The rest are tired of Trump and impatient for him to leave the White House which has become the launch pad of policies many hope can be reversed.  Fearing for their jobs in Trump targeted

branches of government and agencies, civil servants keep their heads down.

Trump did not behave well during his trip to Britain, Ireland and France. On US Air Force One en route to Europe, he slagged London’s mayor Sadiq Khan by calling him a “stone cold loser,” “loser” being one of Trump’s favourite insults. Once on the ground in Britain, Trump had lunch with Prince Charles and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, and attended a banquet hosted by Queen Elizabeth. Former US citizen Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex, did not appear.  In 2016, she had called him “divisive” and “misogynistic.” Trump had retorted by calling her “nasty.”

Trump refused to meet opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. He did not attend the state banquet for Trump who called Corbyn a “negative force.” Instead, Trump met Nigel Farage, the right-wing leader who heads the Brexit party campaigning for Britain to leave the European Union (EU). While in a press conference with outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May, he endorsed her possible successors, notably super-Brexiteer Boris Johnson, a former foreign secretary who ran a dishonest drive to win votes for Brexit in the 2016 referendum. Endorsing Brexiteers of any variety amounted to US intervention in Britain’s internal affairs. Trump followed up this intervention with another by offering a “phenomenal” trade deal with the US if Britain breaks totally with the EU. This was an illusory promise.  He made Britain’s National Health system an issue to discuss when negotiating a trade deal but was forced to drop this precondition.

No fan of Trump, Irish President Michael D. Higgins ignored protocol by castigating his climate change denial policy as “regressive and pernicious” on the eve of  his arrival in the Emerald Isle. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar chose not to go to Trump at his loss-making golf club in Doonbeg in Ireland and

instead the men met for 30 minutes in the VIP lounge at Shannon airport. During this encounter Trump made an asinine comparison between the US-Mexican border where tens of thousands of Hispanic Americans try to cross into the US and the Irish Republic’s open border with British-held Northern Ireland.

Trump’s suggestion of erecting a wall along this frontier was politely dismissed by Varadkar. The Irish want to keep the border open if and when Britain leaves the EU — not build a wall.

European leaders hoped to impress Trump and keep him happy and in line with pomp and circumstance ceremonies at the Normandy Beaches where Allied troops landed, belatedly, 75 years ago and helped defeat the Nazis. This operation set the scene for the post-World War II order Trump is trying hard to dismantle. European leaders have tried a number of approaches to Trump — flattery, cajoling, pressure — but nothing has worked because Trump’s attention span is short and he is dangerously erratic.

No one knows what to expect.

Trump’s address to the D-Day memorial ceremonies was certainly scripted by advisers and he was somehow made to stick to words of praise of the men who fought in World War II. Trump has no military experience and secured five student and medical deferments to avoid the Vietnam war.  He has said he was “never a fan of that war” as some sort of explanation for draft dodging. His Republican predecessor George W. Bush also escaped Vietnam but he joined the Texas Air National Guard as an alternative to the fighting in the dangerous jungles of Southeast Asia.  But then, Trump is a grandson of a Bavarian draft dodger and son of a man who refused to enlist during World War II, denied his German roots, and was later investigated for profiteering from government real estate contracts to build affordable housing during the war.

By contrast, Queen Elizabeth, now 93, was among the elderly war veterans attending the D-Day ceremonies. While a princess she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service and learnt to drive and maintain military vehicles.  She was the first royal female to join the forces.

After behaving properly during his speech, Trump stood with the graves of 9,000 fallen US troops behind him and insulted former Justice Department investigator Robert Muller, who served in Vietnam, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who has done her best to prevent her Democratic party from initiating an impeachment investigation into Trump’s misdeeds and obstruction of justice.  Having said his piece,

Trump reverted to type: everything is about Trump and Trump alone.

Most of the Trump family took part in Donald Trump’s European journey.  While his daughter Ivanka

Kushner and her husband Jared, both White House aides, flew in Air Force One, sons Donald Jr., Eric and his wife Lara, and younger daughter Tiffany flew separately, occupied suites in London hotels, attended the state banquet and broke away to attend to business. While papa Trump continues to own his firms, his sons manage them, exploiting White House prestige to earn profits and creating ethical difficulties for handlers. Each offspring required Secret Service protection paid for by taxpayers, naturally.

European leaders on hand for D-Day commemorations understand that Trump cannot be managed or contained and are waiting, impatiently, for next year’s presidential election in the hope that Trump will not return to office.  Unfortunately, the Republican party continues to massage his ever expanding ego and has no intention of replacing him as its 2020 candidate while the rival Democratic party has not, so far, come up with a potential nominee who can beat him. The world cannot bear another four years of Trump.