Liddick: A week of mostly upside for Trump (column)
April 30, 2018
President Donald Trump had a pretty good week last week. French president Emmanuel Macron paid a state visit and showed all with eyes to see that Donald Trump is destroying neither the world nor our transatlantic alliances. In public remarks during the visit Mr. Macron outlined both points of agreement and disagreement with Mr. Trump but made it very clear even the disagreements take place within one of the oldest continuous friendships between nations on the planet. It was obvious that the two leaders understood, respected and even liked one another — an important factor in foreign relations.
President Macron remarked on the Climate Accord, but we've heard the rhetoric before. He made an impassioned plea for multilateralism in the Middle East, but also made it clear that France stands with Washington when it comes to nuclear weapons in the hands of the Ayatollahs: "Our objective is clear. Iran shall never possess any nuclear weapons. Not now. Not in five years. Not in 10 years. Never." He disavowed war as a last resort to prevent their acquisition so he may not have been entirely serious — but it was announced on Wednesday that president Macron will seek a "renegotiation" of the 2015 Tehran accord to address its "sunset provision" and other weak spots. The methodology is unclear, but at least Trump's May 12 deadline seems to have energized most European signatories to the understanding to seek accommodation with his objections. Which is a positive change.
President Macron made an argument against tariff barriers before Congress and elsewhere during his visit. But he is also seeking — as is German Prime Minister Angela Merkel, who visited Washington in his wake — bilateral negotiations on trade. So is China who, we discovered over the weekend, has requested a U.S. delegation visit ASAP, to iron out some trade and currency problems.
And "Little Rocket Man" Kim Jong-un went south last week for a talk with his counterpart. Both leaders agreed that the Korea's 68-year-long war should come to an end and that it was likely time to de-nuclearize the peninsula. This might have had to do with tightened sanctions on the North continuing to turn what is left of its economy into smoke and ashes, or with Kim's being summoned to Beijing some weeks ago, probably to explain to his Chinese puppeteers why his nuclear test site on their border is now leaking more radiation than Godzilla. Whatever the reason, both South Korean president Moon and Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-Wha frankly stated that Donald Trump was the force behind the whole business. If peace and real multiparty verified de-nuclearization of the North follows, Trump will be the second U.S. president to actually deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, receive it or not.
These developments occurred despite universal skepticism about President Trump's ability, not to mention his sanity, and contrary to advice from no end of "experts" who warned of the dire and deadly consequences which would inevitably follow his lunatic floundering in foreign policy. This foreign business, we constantly heard, was for those steeped in decades of study and practice in the minutiae of the diplomatic dance. They alone could insure that pre-Trump practices continued. One wonders what they will wail now that there is a whiff of something better in the air?
Alas, if peace comes to the Koreas together with some measure of change to the North thanks to the president's efforts, headlines here will probably read something like "Trump Moves Threaten Major US Corporations' Bottom Line; Recession Imminent…"
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True, the president had his setbacks last week. Dr. Ron Jackson, his nominee to be head of the Veterans' Administration, pulled his name following a torrent of scurrilous and apparently baseless attacks both on his character and professional behavior. The Secret Service, who would know if the president's doctor was involved in a drink-drive accident resulting in destruction of a government vehicle — as was alleged — has no such record. They would probably also know if the doctor were passing out prescription medicines like salted nuts on Air Force One. No again. In fact, when challenged, Montana Senator Jon Tester's staff said these allegations came from "conversations with current and former staff," and refused to be more specific. Because the seriousness of the charge is its own proof, right?
Senator Tester will have his reckoning in November; he is currently 18 points behind in the polls and falling, and his lies may now force the people of Montana to decide whether they wish to be represented by a man with morals that would make a used car salesman blush. Meanwhile James Comey, Washington's other well-known liar, seems more weasel-like with every public appearance. So all in all, it was a good week to be Donald Trump.
With many more to come.
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily News.
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