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President Trump Heads to NATO Summit in London

Donald Trump has many issues to be considering at the moment including the US – China Trade War, his impeachment hearing and of course the presidential campaign, so when the chance came for him to be viewed positively on the world stage Trump should have shone.

Instead he was mocked while in London, United Kingdom, lambasted at home and left the NATO summit early, only to have to face his impeachment.

Like many of us, when the going gets tough we want to escape for a while, however, unlike the majority of people, Trump headed for Air Force One and headed to the U.K. and into the welcoming arms of NATO. However on this occasion, those arms were not so welcoming.

Following a video of what looked like other world leaders mocking him at a gathering at Buckingham Palace, President Trump canceled his final news conference, instead opting to fly back to the White House, leaving many wondering if he is still fit to run America.

And after appearing to be snubbed by a member of the Royal Family, it seems the only thing Trump has to look forward to this Christmas is the possibility of being the third president to be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors – Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were both impeached.

The recent NATO summit in London had been billed as the perfect opportunity to showcase his global leadership skills and potentially boost his appeal for his re-election campaign next year. However, after an unpleasant and awkward meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron as well as a “hot-mic” video which showed other world leaders “mocking” him, Mr. Trump decided to cut short his stay and head home.

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But not before Trump called out Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as being “two-faced.”

The issue seemed to arise when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked why Macron and Trudeau were running late for an event with the Queen. Trudeau then seemed to scornfully reply to not only Johnson but also Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands as well as Princess Anne that “he was late because he takes a 40 minute news conference at the top.” Further along the conversation Trudeau also states “you just watch his team’s jaws drop to the floor.” While it is unclear what the responding comments from the other leaders were, they can be seen smiling at his words. Although Trump was never personally mentioned in the now viral video he tweeted:

“The Fake News Media is doing everything possible to belittle my VERY successful trip to London for NATO. I got along great with the NATO leaders!”

He also claimed the credit for encouraging certain countries to increase their spending on military, adding, “No increase for U.S., only deep respect!”

It is a known fact that Trump has never seen an issue with arguing with other world leaders and has often used it to appeal to his Republican base. Antonia Ferrier worked as an aide to Senator Mitch McConnell – Republican of Kentucky – and commented that:

“The president has never been much bothered by shaking up international conventions, so tussling with foreign leaders, by those standards, isn’t a bad thing from his perspective. For many Americans, having their president stand up to foreign leaders is a sign of strength.”

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Unfortunately it was not the first awkward encounter of Trump’s visit. During a public meeting on the same day both Trump and Macron were discussing Islamic State fighters with Macron, telling Trump “let’s be serious” over some of his comments.

Trump had also complained to reporters that he felt the comments Macron had made criticizing America’s seeming disengagement with NATIO as “very very nasty.”

Mr. Trump has always disliked those he perceived to not show him the respect he feels he deserves so these comments have touched an already prickly nerve.

As Trump’s biographer Gwenda Blair says, “Trump doesn’t just want to be in the club, he wants to be the unquestioned leader and center of attention. It had to be both humiliating and infuriating that the other heads of state who were mocking him were untouchable by tweet or insulting nickname, but no doubt he was already calculating the next round of tariffs he would send their way.”

Yet while there appears to be no escape from Trump’s upcoming impeachment hearings he announced he would not be watching them due to being too busy dealing with affairs of state.

The White House has also denied the opportunity to take part in the hearing, suggesting that the Democrats had “rigged” the entire event. However, this did not stop them sending some aides to monitor the proceedings.

While it is clear to many that the hearing will change nobody’s opinions, the House looks set to vote by the end of the year to impeach along party lines, followed by a trial.
Ferrier comments:

“While I wouldn’t say impeachment is a good thing for the president, it is a highly divisive and partisan issue breaking down on party lines. It has not changed people’s minds on the president.

His approval ratings are remarkably consistent, in particular with Republican voters, and he clearly relishes a fight.”


Tensions Emerge at NATO Summit

Seventy years after the founding of NATO, a military alliance originally meant to protect western Europe from the Soviet Union, world leaders gathered in London with the intent of discussing policy goals. However, tensions between the various leaders overshadowed this plan, as conflicts between leaders became apparent both during speeches given by these leaders and the conversations they had with each other, some of which was captured by a hot mic and circulated online. President Trump, whom the other leaders appeared to criticize in conversations amongst themselves, abruptly decided to cancel a press conference at the close of the meeting, instead returning to Washington prematurely. As justification for the sudden cancellation, Trump cited the fact that he had already spoken with the media for a substantial period of time. Trump’s sudden decision to abandon the summit speaks to the tensions felt between world leaders with respect to the American president, and ultimately represents a failure of world leaders to see eye-to-eye with Trump.

Tensions arose even before the summit began, as French president Emmanuel Macron declared that the organization had become “brain dead” as a result of American indifference to the military alliance. According to Macron, Europe can no longer rely on the United States to defend NATO allies, as the current administration cannot be trusted. Trump responded to Macron’s incisive comments by calling them “insulting” and “nasty.” Later, Macron said that he stood by his comments.

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NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, addressed the tensions over the meeting, making a call for unity and assuring his audience that NATO was strong and agile enough to overcome these tensions. Stoltenberg then described NATO’s goals for North America and Europe, which include continuing the international fight against terrorism, arms control, fighting Russia, and dealing with the rise of China. Referencing the internal divisions between world leaders who are members of NATO, Stoltenberg pointed out that there has always been differences between world leaders since NATO began, such as disputes about the 1956 Suez crisis and the war in Iraq.

While meeting Trump, Prince Charles appeared to subtly give the American president the middle finger

Things only became more tense as the meeting progressed. Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron held a joint press conference, during which Macron criticized the American president for his handling of the conflict in Turkey and the Islamic State fighters in Syria as well as a developing trade dispute between France and the United States. Macron’s criticism of American leadership led Trump to defend NATO, an unusual position for a president who has spoken at length about his opinion that NATO is outdated and obsolete. Macron also fact-checked Trump in real-time; when Trump claimed that the ISIS prisoners being held in Syria are “mostly from Europe,” Macron responded that they in fact come from Syria and Iraq. Trump responded to these criticisms by appearing to threaten to send ISIS fighters to France, causing Macron to say, “Let’s be serious.” Despite the conflict between the two leaders, the joint conference ended up running long, causing Macron to be late for the next event.


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Shortly afterwards, several leaders engaged in a conversation, appearing to gossip about Trump, part of which was captured on a video which generated significant attention online. During this conversation, which included Macron as well as English Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. During the brief portion of the conversation which has become publicly available, Johnson asks Macron why he was late, leading Trudeau to make a comment about Trump’s excessively long press conferences. Apparently referencing Trump, Trudeau commented that “you just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor.” Though Trump’s name was not mentioned during this portion of the conversation, it was clear to many observers that the person these leaders were discussing was President Trump. While Johnson denied having participated in this conversation about the American president, Trudeau confirmed that he had in fact discussed Trump with others, clarifying that his comment about his team’s jaws dropping was a reference to the President’s decision to host the G7 summit at Camp David. After the video circulated online, Trump fired back against Trudeau, calling him “two-faced,” later adding that he thought he was “very dishonest and weak.”

Tensions between the leaders also arose in more subtle ways. While meeting Trump, Prince Charles appeared to subtly give the American president the middle finger, though the gesture may have been unintentional. Trump also left Johnson and Stoltenberg waiting for nearly six minutes on stage at the beginning of the meeting, as he arrived late. And when Macron shook Melania Trump’s hand, he used both hands and lingered for a moment, which was perceived by some as a power play against Trump. Though the interaction between the two is minor, Trump has been known to use somewhat aggressive body language in his interactions with others, leading other world leaders to develop strategies for handling this quirk. While trying to read the intentions of others based on their body language is not entirely reliable, there exist a countless number of examples of how the tensions between leaders of the world right now manifest in various ways, many of which transpired during this year’s NATO meeting.

Paris Police

Massive Paris Police Protest Sets Records

On Wednesday, roughly 27,000 police officers in Paris took to the streets to protest what they claimed were bad working conditions, a lack of respect from the general public, and a string of suicides in their ranks this year. The protest was the largest police demonstration in almost 20 years, and officers wore plain clothes, as the law does not allow them to protest in uniform. Although the protest complained about not being respected by the general public, the police officer’s public image in France has suffered as a result of the protests, which have drawn criticism about how harsh their tactics are. Protestors claim that the high number of suicides among police officers, totalling more than 50 this year alone, are a consequence of the intense degree of stress and public scrutiny associated with the profession.

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According to a French parliamentary inquiry, the French police are affected by a number of problems which lower morale, such as unpaid overtime and poor working conditions. It’s not uncommon to find anti-police graffiti in France, and anti-police slogans have grown popular among crowds. The protestors claim though they are obligated to provide public service, they get nothing but scorn and derision from the public, making the job untenable and leading to the conditions that resulted in the tragic suicides of several dozen officers.

For a number of reasons, the police in France differ fundamentally from the police in the United States and other countries. For one, they don’t walk a beat, and instead the police are a national force, which uses aggression to handle conflict but otherwise doesn’t often interact with citizens. This style of work hasn’t done favors for the police force, who are sometimes taunted with encouragements of suicide and shot with rubber bullets. Although the government has promised psychiatric intervention to address the problem of rampant suicides, little other action has been taken to address the underlying causes of the crisis.

Although protests are fairly ubiquitous in France, they are generally uncommon among police officers, and as such the recent protest highlights the severity of the bad working conditions police have been complaining about. Although the Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has promised more money and hires for the police, this did little to quell the concerns of protestors. A government plan to revise pensions for police officers was criticized for jeopardizing the unique retirement benefits enjoyed by police officers.

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The police officers’ protest comes in the aftermath of, and in some ways as a response to, the Yellow Vest Movement earlier this year which became violent after 13 consecutive weekends of demonstrations. The movement, which protests the presidency of Emmanuel Macron, started as a response to fuel taxes and other environmental policies that reduced the standard of living for the French population. Among the demands of the Yellow Vest protestors are the resignation of Macron, an increase in the French minimum wage, an end to austerity measures, an improved standard of living, greater transparency and accountability in the government, and better government services for rural areas, among other goals. While these protests are ongoing, the French government has made some concessions to protestors, including the cancellation of the fuel tax and the elimination of a tax on overtime and end-of-year bonuses.

The Yellow Vest protests have led to the deaths of 11 people, some of whom were protestors killed in traffic accidents while blocking roads, with an additional 4,000 people injured. The movement is a populist and economic one, focused on reforming the government to reduce the cost of living for the middle-class. Some protests have become major riots which have been described as the most violent ones in France since 1968. The intensity and size of the protests has led to a large-scale response from the police, who wear military-style riot gear, which has intensified criticism and public distrust of the police force. Both the Yellow Vest movement and the recent police protest signal a tremendous degree of social unrest among France’s citizenry, which is a trait shared in many countries around the world in the current global political climate.

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