Last week, Trump attended the G7 Summit in Tormina (Italy), his first since becoming president. The meeting, which reunited 7 of the most powerful countries in the world, aimed to make crucial agreements on immigration, terrorism, poverty, and trade.
In the present edition, the organizers announced substantial format changes to adapt it to Trump’s attitudes. They wrote documents in simple English, added pictures, and shortened meeting times to keep Trump from getting bored and losing his focus after a few minutes.
Trump’s economic adviser, Gary Cohn, said Mr. Trump “came here to learn. He came here to get smart. His views are evolving…exactly as they should be.”
Prior to that, most of the leaders had already met Trump. And they were conscious of his limited ability to follow arduous talks. However, they expected that the new format would help him understand the content of meetings. Nevertheless, Trump’s bold, presumptuous, smug, and thoughtless demeanor lead the Summit to be an absolute failure.
Unfortunately, all efforts to give Trump a better understanding of the Summit were in vain. According to numerous attendees, Trump was a good listener, but he was also often distracted, leading him to ignore crucial talks on immigration. Most participants also accused him of trying to impose his agenda without even negotiating with them, causing widespread anger.
Due to Trump’s refusal to negotiate realistic policies with other leaders, the latter pressured him on the climate change pact – but he did not promise anything and said that he will make a decision next week. Later on, he announced his decision via Twitter:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the discussion on climate change had been “very unsatisfactory”, adding “we have a situation of six against one.” In the end, the rest of the leaders isolated Trump and reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris accord, the world’s first comprehensive deal aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The participants also said that there had been uncertainty over Mr. Trump’s position on sanctions imposed on Russia in response to its actions in Ukraine. However, White House economic adviser Gary Cohn said at the summit on Friday:
“We’re not lowering our sanctions on Russia. If anything we would look to get tougher on Russia.”
Italy had planned a five-page G7 statement on human mobility, stressing migrants’ rights, their positive contribution to host nations and the threat they faced from traffickers. Instead, Trump undermined it and the final statement highlighted the right of nation states to secure their borders, and set migration targets.
Trump was especially impolite and rude with the Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. As footage reveals, he removed his “headphone” translator and ignored him during his speech on immigration. This was the first time that someone behaved like that since George W. Bush, who was also well-known for being easily distracted during international meetings.
Donald Tusk (EU) said that Trump agreed that Brexit was an incident, not a trend. He added that Trump acknowledged that Brexit will make Americans lose thousands of jobs. This statement was welcomed by most of the leaders. However, most of them also claimed that Trump acted hypocritically by endorsing Brexit during his recent campaign.
During the G7 Summit, Trump used a “nasty” narrative against Germany. He suggested that Germany was benefiting from other European countries. Although he was right on this point, his lack of knowledge about the EU left all leaders perplexed, demonstrating Trump’s mental gymnastics.
The Summit went through a shocking period when it discussed trade. Trump argued that the existing commercial situation between the EU and the US was unfair, and also threatened the EU with taking unilateral actions against its economy. He also suggested that he may soon increase taxes for the German automotive industry operating in the US.
Cohn said the US president “raised issues of unfair trading practices around the world” adding: “We have large trade deficits with most EU countries. The president doesn’t like having large trade deficits.”
Despite the various disagreements, the G7 leaders finally agreed on strengthening their collaboration in the fight against terrorism. With the recent Manchester terrorist attack still on their minds, they agreed on increasing control of the Internet to detect the so-called “lone wolf” (terrorists).
“We will combat the misuse of the Internet by terrorists. While ranking as one of the most important technological achievements in the last decades, the Internet has also proven to be a powerful tool for terrorist purposes,” said the joint statement signed by the leaders meeting in Sicily. However, White House National Security Adviser HR McMaster said that Mr. Trump would make his decisions based “on what’s best for the American people.”
The G7 summit ended without much progress and displayed the various difficulties that world’s leaders have to face in dealing with Trump. The low level of Trump’s understanding and his unpredictability will make it hard for them to make crucial agreements with him in the future. It is in this context that most of the G7 leaders declared the summit as an absolute failure.
Angela Merkel said that after the last G7 Summit, Germany and the EU could not rely on the US and the UK any longer. She also advocated for making a stronger independent EU.
A few days after the G7 summit, Trump returned to his routine of writing self-congratulatory tweets. This time he said:
After the G7 Summit, it is clear that Trump’s bellicose narrative against several allies has worsened relations between the US and the international community. Some of them, such as Germany, think that it will be impossible for them to make future agreements with Trump, and are already waiting for the US mid-term elections in 2018. They think that a bad result for Republicans could precipitate an eventual impeachment against Trump which could enable the restoration of the relations between the US and Europe.