Trump has been out of danger with the global situation since he took office preaching his “America first, fair, not free trade” brand of nationalist isolationist hubris.
The virtual summit for the leaders of the world’s richest nations is being organized by Saudi Arabia. Its stated goal is to pull countries together to fight Covid-19, speed up testing, treatment and vaccines for all, while helping poor nations cope with the economic impact of the pandemic.
Evidence of the change in attitude towards the outgoing US administration came from the lips of Saudi Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih. “When the world needed leadership [to combat Covid-19] there was none, “he said. the G20 had grown because some nations” turned from within towards nationalism. “Al-Falih did not name Trump by name. He did not need to; his audience understood.
In his opening remarks to the G20, King Salman of Saudi Arabia also seems to be reprimanding a Trumpian core value: that the World Trade Organization (WTO) has a lot of power.
King Salman, surrounded on screen by Zoom-style boxes showing leaders including a half-weakened Trump, said: “We have endorsed Riyadh’s initiative for the future of the WTO in order to make the future multilateral trading system more capable. face any current or future challenges “.
And, in a stunning development, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is normally opposed to the Saudis, backed the King’s initiative. “Turkey is supporting fair global economic growth and welfare sharing in line with World Trade Organization principles,” he said. “For that, the WTO reform process needs to move forward.”
As leaders talked about the importance of sharing and working together to speed up testing, treatments and vaccines for all Covid-19s, the White House hit a whole different tone. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement: “President Trump stressed how the United States marched every available resource to respond to the crisis, as well as the unprecedented economic recovery.”
While Trump’s real speech was held behind closed doors and the White House (unlike many other governments) held on to video of its leader, it is impossible to know Trump’s tone and curvature or the reaction of his audience .
Aggressive message on climate change
In Trump’s second speech Sunday, which, unlike the first, aired, his tone was harsh and uncompromising, his message aggressive and familiar: anti-global climate change controls.
“The Paris Agreement was not created to save the environment, it was created to kill the American economy,” he said in a speech pre-recorded by the Diplomatic Hall at the White House. “I refuse to hand over millions of American jobs and send trillions of dollars to the world’s worst polluters and environmental violators, and that would have happened.”
In a room full of reporters and officials in Riyadh, while Trump’s speech was played on a massive screen, almost no one paid attention, unlike when other leaders spoke.
The White House says Trump “reaffirmed the importance of the G20 working together for future economic growth and prosperity.” But during the pandemic, he has systematically tried to undo many things for which the G20 has worked right, by coming out and rewarding the world’s only global health body, the World Health Organization (WHO).
French President Emmanuel Macron, who perhaps tried harder than all international leaders to persuade Trump of alternatives to his “America First” policy, used his G20 speech to assess the value of the WHO.
“The recommendations of the World Health Organization will be invaluable in ensuring effective and equitable prioritization. [of Covid vaccines], “he said on Saturday.
By the time Macron spoke, Trump was already on the golf course, his clear message to the G20: I’m done.
It seems that even if Trump cannot accept it, the world is moving forward. As the G20 ended, his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was expected to land in Saudi Arabia for a much shorter visit than previously anticipated.
Pompeo was to have a brief meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman before returning to Washington DC. It’s not too late for a deal to be made, but as every day the lame duck passes, power comes out of this current White House.
Saudi Arabia, the site of Trump’s first overseas visit as President, appears to be the hill on which his overseas influence has finally collapsed.
As we know best, no G20 participant told Trump his virtual face that his time is up and no one here will write it down until he finally disappears.
But he seemed to make the point himself as the G20 ended and the King delivered the final communiqué while surrounded by leaders in their zoom boxes, Trump was not in his chair – rather a disinterested subordinate, a visible final gesture of contempt .
For many Trump’s exit from the top of the global decision-making table will be a welcome break from four stormy years of harassment and lies. The metaphor was completed during the final communiqué of the G20.
The world is ready for President-elect Joe Biden; the bar for success is low, but expectations are high.
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