December 10, 2018

At G20, Trump's Displays Exceptionalism, Not Leadership

“As it turned out, the contrast at this year’s G20 conference of the world’s most significant nations was as stark as possible. Following the news of President George H.W. Bush’s death, the difference between the late president’s leadership as a unifier, whose legacy was to preside over America’s graceful exit from the Cold War, and a deeply divisive President Donald Trump, who has the potential of plunging the United States into a new cold war with the China of Xi Jinping, was on full display.

A severely wounded Trump managed to avert the most dire of consequences — at least for the moment — but, wings clipped, found his two days of summitry most noted for meetings that were avoided or canceled.

In fact, every one of Trump’s potential landmines was there — his autocratic friends, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman, China’s Xi; and democratic frenemies, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Emmanuel Macron and Britain’s Theresa May.

In the end, however, there was only one encounter that truly mattered — the dinner meeting between Trump and Xi. Fortunately, Trump found it prudent to step back from the very edge of an abyss. Each leader is clearly enamored by what they see as the other’s supreme power over his nation and world events. The one substantive difference is that Xi has no term limits, while Trump has two, or at most six years remaining in his tenure.”

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