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Dickey writes: "It's as if seven people went to a club to play poker, and one of them, the richest, threw the deck in the air and announced they would play 52 pick-up instead. Everybody else in the room knows that this is nuts. They also know that for better or worse, they have to live with it. But maybe they won't invite him back."

Theresa May, Donald Trump and Angela Merkel in Quebec on Friday. (photo: Ian Langsdon/AFP/Getty Images)
Theresa May, Donald Trump and Angela Merkel in Quebec on Friday. (photo: Ian Langsdon/AFP/Getty Images)


The Madness of King Trump on Full Display at the G7

By Christopher Dickey, The Daily Beast

11 June 18


The Group of Seven is a club that is supposed to represent shared values. But, um, Trump doesn’t share any of them. No wonder he wanted his buddy Putin back in.

ritish Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson thought he was speaking off the record about the bull rampaging through the china shop of the fragile international order.

“I am increasingly admiring of Donald Trump,” Johnson told a closed meeting with fellow Tories a few days ago, unaware his remarks would be recorded and leaked. “I have become more and more convinced that there is method in his madness.”

Johnson, who’s been known for his own farcical antics and rhetorical bombshells, wondered aloud what would happen if Trump was running the Brexit negotiations with the European Union: “He’d go in bloody hard… There’d be all sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos. Everyone would think he’d gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere. It’s a very, very good thought.”

Almost 17 months into the Trump presidency, even among world leaders once appalled by his pathological narcissism and aggressive ignorance, a certain level of acceptance has taken hold. To be sure, they once hoped the madness could be managed, but those days clearly are over. The “adults” in the Trump administration have mostly been expelled. Those who remain are letting Trump be Trump. And he’s having a ball. So the questions that are posed in the wider world are about isolating his craziness, enduring it, or like Boris Johnson embracing the madness as if it were just a game, a shrewd negotiating ploy.

In a provocative and prescient article published only a couple of weeks after the inauguration last year, psychologist David B. Feldman asked in Psychology Today, “Will we all just get used to Trump?” And, yes, despite continued talk of “the resistance,” that is exactly what’s happening at all levels of society.

“One of the oldest and most predictable phenomena observed by psychologists is habituation,” Feldman wrote. It is “the tendency of almost all organisms—from amoebas to human beings—to cease to respond to a stimulus after it has been repeated over and over.” He noted that “unlike past administrations that took controversial actions occasionally, with enough time between for the public to recover, the current White House does so continuously, on a seemingly minute-to-minute basis. Such repeated events create the perfect conditions for habituation to occur.”

Many in the public may simply tune out, but heads of state and senior policymakers cannot do that, so confusion continues to reign, and that’s what we saw at the G7 on Friday and Saturday. It’s very likely that’s what Trump intended, which is crazy like a fox, or just crazy. Or conceivably both.

It’s as if seven people went to a club to play poker, and one of them, the richest, threw the deck in the air and announced they would play 52 pick-up instead. Everybody else in the room knows that this is nuts. They also know that for better or worse, they have to live with it. But maybe they won’t invite him back.

Amid headlines about tariff disputes, a basic fact is lost. The so-called Group of Seven “most industrialized countries in the world” is not just a club for the rich, but for leaders who traditionally assumed they shared the same basic values: belief in empirical facts, fundamental human freedoms, sacrosanct democratic processes, and the rule of law. All of which is to say it’s a club where Trump doesn’t fit in. He has shown he shares none of those values. Indeed, from the question of climate change to his dealings with Russia, he’s unapologetically hostile to them.

When French President Emmanuel Macron talked regretfully about making the G7, in fact, G6 plus one, he was essentially recognizing the fact that Trump doesn’t belong.

“The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be,” Macron tweeted going into the summit. “Because these 6 countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force.”

So, what does Trump do when he comes across a club that doesn’t want him as a member? He starts his own. (Ask people in Palm Beach.) That may be what he had in mind when, as he set off for his hit-and-split visit to the G7 in Canada, he shouted to the press the need to bring Russia back into the group as “the G8.”

In fact, Russia never had a place there. Its economy by comparison with the G7 countries is insignificant, on a par with Australia’s. It was brought into the “G8” in 1997 as a gesture in hopes post-Soviet Russia would embrace, yes, the values of the G7. By 2014, under Vladimir Putin, that clearly was not the case: Putin seized Crimea, annexed it, and launched a war in eastern Ukraine that has cost more than 10,000 lives, including hundreds of innocents killed on a Malaysian airliner shot down by one of Putin’s anti-aircraft missiles. That’s why Russia was expelled from the G8, and that’s why it won’t be invited back.

But Trump is comfortable with Putin. He has made that more than clear. And he is comfortable with China’s Xi Jinping, whom he likes to call “my good friend.” Perhaps coincidentally, Putin and Xi met in Beijing on the eve of the G7, acting like besties, and signing $3 billion worth of nuclear energy deals. Would Trump have preferred to be there rather than in Canada? Very likely.

As Trump checked out of the G7 early, ostensibly so he could head off to Singapore for his “hot date with Kim Jong Un” (in the words of World Politics Review’s Judah Grunstein), the impression lingered that he was much more at ease with the tyrants who are America’s adversaries than with the leaders of the countries that have been its closest allies for the last 70 years.

In a parting shot that was just as implausible as the suggestion Russia be brought in from the cold, Trump said the G7 should do away with all tariffs. As the Financial Times reported, that left the other leaders “flummoxed.” This especially at a time when Trump has been promising to tax all German cars off the streets of the United States, even though most are assembled there in plants that employ tens of thousands of people in South Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama…

Here’s the thing, nobody expects Trump to be rational anymore. And few people really believe this madness will end any time soon. Crazy as it sounds, the world is just getting used to him, and while Trump’s counterparts scramble for answers, the rest of us are left searching for a way to be, in the classic line from Pink Floyd, “comfortably numb.”

Reporters, including those on Air Force One en route to the Kim Jong Un summit in Singapore, were told that the United States would sign the G7's anodyne joint declaration. But no. Trump went into a rage aboard the plane, apparently after watching a press conference held by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the conclusion of the summit, which Trump had not bothered to attend.

There are two basic issues here.

One is about Canada's dairy tariffs, which are definitely protective and have grown worse for U.S. farmers after Canadian regulators moved to close a huge loophole. The Globe and Mail published a very useful explainer a few weeks ago.

The other issue is the judgment — and indeed the sanity — of a President of the United States who would publicly rebuke one of his country's closest allies with tweets like this:

At a dinner with journalists in early March, before the announcement that he would indeed meet with North Korea's leader, Trump addressed the question of what it would be like to negotiate with a person reputedly as crazy as Kim.

“As far as the risk of dealing with a madman is concerned, that’s his problem, not mine,” Trump said.

The line was reported as a joke.


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-15 # ricardo 2018-06-11 09:30
The so called "madness" is on the leaders who are reeling from the shock that the US will no longer be the world's teat since the Trump administration shut down the Marshal Plan after a 73 year run.
 
 
+6 # jwb110 2018-06-11 10:11
There is always the odd chance that the rest of the civilized world will realize they don't need this particular US. To what end may be the question. These alliances were made when Europe was still in recovery from WW2, the infamous "Red Scare" was being promoted, that particular US had come to the aid of Europe and in the Pacific Theater of War. That is not the America of today. Why continue in this alliance when it isn't working for any of the rest of the members? It isn't necessary. It achieves nothing. It has become a political football. Not everyone that was in the G7 still needs to be on it. In order to make it effective pruning the US out may be the absolutely correct move. A G6 has nothing to fear but perhaps moving forward unfettered.
 
 
+10 # Kootenay Coyote 2018-06-11 11:09
‘…[Trump] was much more at ease with the tyrants who are America’s adversaries….’
Birds of a feather: & who can deny that Trump’s a rabid tyrant?
 
 
+1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-06-11 11:30
The G-7 is really a gang of desperate post-industrial nations that are struggling to remain relevant.

Trump is a stereotypical New York haggler. The bullies and browbeats his opponents until they give in. It is all very ugly, undiplomatic, and unworthy for a president. But this was the strategy he used to beat 16 republican opponents and then Hillary. It works because no one knows how to go up against him.

Trump and also put on a "kinder" side as he is now doing for the moment with Kim Jong Un. This may change at a moment's notice. Trump seems to know what he wants to get and he'll use any tactic to get it. I don't don't know what he wants to achieve in his meetings with Kim. I don't think presidents are allowed to make decisions like this.

My own view is that Trump is an ignorant asshole. I lived in NY for a while and I met very many people just like him. They are super aggressive and always on the con. He'll be gone in 2020. I'm much more concerned that his replacement is better than we seen in the white house for a long time.
 
 
+10 # maindrains 2018-06-11 11:57
Yes Canada's quota for dairy is definately protective but it ensures our dairy farmers stay in business and get a fair price for their product as do consumers. The US also protects its agriculture but by using subsidies that encourage over production, lowered prices for farmers and a growing crisis in the farm sector. Which is the better way?
 
 
+8 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-06-12 08:46
Canada's way is better. Subsidized over production is destroying farmland because it incentivizes the over use of herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers. This subsidized over production also means US farm products destroy agriculture in many developing nations because they can by US produce cheaper than they can produce it themselves.

Tariffs and trade barriers are sometimes necessary in order to protect domestic industries. Domestic industries, especially in food production, are essential for every nation. Castro always said every nation should be food self-sufficient .
 
 
+2 # harleysch 2018-06-11 14:08
Funny article!

The G7 has shared basic values, such as "sacrosanct democratic processes, and the rule of law"?

Democratic processes, such as the EU stopping the appointment of a designated finance minister because he disagreed with EU bank policies, which favor the big banks, while imposing austerity on the people -- to collect the illegitimate debt foisted on the poorer nations of the Eurozone?

Rule of law, like the Iraq war, Libya, running an anti-Russian regime change coup in Ukraine, which placed self-avowed neo-Nazis in charge of Ukraine's security institutions?

This article is satire, right? Was it ghost-written by Borowitz?
 
 
+1 # Jaax88 2018-06-11 23:22
Certainly there is no need to allow a habituation of trump. There is a free and open resistance. Otherwise Americans who accept trump as a normal fixture will eventually be called "the Good Americans."

I am getting the feeling that there is a soft, nearly invisible coup underway. trump with the backing of the NRA (guns ad money,) some billionaires and business interests (money and theories of governance, trump's "base" (apparently many uneducated and easily manipulated people)and the web of agencies euphemistically called home land security including agencies like ICE, the Border Patrol, FBI and CIA and many others (the power and force to back a coup)with Putin's help working the levers of power and messaging to clamp an authoritarian grip on America. When there is strong resistance to authoritarian rule it will turn to dictatorship to achieve its aims. That I have no doubt about.
 
 
+6 # Jim at Dr.Democracy on Facebook 2018-06-12 01:11
Good take on Trump.

Just Two Facts, Christopher Dickey, that you should retain for future reference.

1. Crimeans voted to leave Ukraine and become part of Russia. You may say what you like about those elections, there is no evidence they were any more rigged than elections in the US. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/17/world/europe/crimea-ukraine-secession-vote-referendum.html

2. And there is a very good reason that vote turned out that way. The vast majority of people living in Crimea have LONG BEEN RUSSIANS. "Crimea" has been very ethnically Russian for hundreds of years. Sevastopol has been a Russian Navy seaport for hundreds of years. In fact, only 11% of Crimeans are ethnic Ukranians. About 70% are Russians and Russian Tatars. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Crimea

Yes, OUR government considers that vote to be illegal as it violated the Ukrainian Constitution. Do you not know that Russia was at the center of the Soviet Union? It was Russian power that was withheld so that Ukraine could exit the USSR. It's a silly story to say that Ukraine "owned" Crimea and the Russians took it. Au contraire, our government wanted to chop off Russia's primary warm water seaport... and so invented a lot of BS about that history. The CIA Fact Book now lists Crimea as part of Ukraine, which it never was. But history has an odd way of residing still in easily accessed public documents.

http://www.crimeahistory.org/timeline-of-the-history-of-crimea/
 
 
+3 # Jim at Dr.Democracy on Facebook 2018-06-12 01:22
Oh yes, and it's also not clear that Russians shot down the airliner. More likely that Ukrainians did so to try to instigate an armed intervention by the West, as Ukraine was in turmoil. Lots of Russians living in parts of the Ukraine as well. And there's bad blood because the Ukrainians sided, by and large, with Nazi Germany. So... there are your imagined good guys.

No good or bad guys between those two nations, ex members of the USSR. Just as it is foolish to think of our country, as much as I love the USA, as innocent.
 
 
+13 # janie1893 2018-06-12 03:07
I hope Trump is never invited to Canada again.
He is a no class, low class person who arrives late and leaves early, regardless of the timing and agenda set by others. We don't want him in our country!He is a braggart and a liar and a divider and a suck up to the Russians and North Koreans. He will abandon South Korea to North Korea if he thinks he can get away with it.

All in all, Mr. Trump is a despicable human being. I hope he will stay in his 'great'
USA for the rest of his term. Americans elected him.Keep him there. He is not welcome in sane, democratic countries.
 
 
+6 # RLF 2018-06-12 05:04
I have the same impulse to vomit every time I see Trump but what I don't get is all of the Bernie supporters that were against the tpp suddenly being all defensive of the cynical wealth concentrating device known as Global Free Trade. Bring on the tarrifs! They have been there anyway for my one man business. I buy materials in Europe and I have to pay 4% when I bring them here. Not free for the little guys so let it end for everyone!
 
 
+3 # Jim at Dr.Democracy on Facebook 2018-06-12 20:25
I'm failing to see the connection between Bernie supporters, tpp, and "Global Free Trade." What ARE you trying to say, RLF?

Who is it for whom duties/tariffs do not apply?

If you want to explore this topic carefully, dig into this exhaustive resource: https://www.cbp.gov/trade/programs-administration/determining-duty-rates
 
 
0 # Salus Populi 2018-06-14 23:52
Thanks, Jim at Dr., for your correction of the record on Ukraine and Crimea, as well as Malaysia 17. It's good that when the usual bs is dragged out, lipstick and all, to reinforce the false narrative that keeps the war party fat and happy by maintaining the personal slimeing of Russia and Putin, there are still people around to counter it. Also, thanks for the link to Crimea timeline, a useful reference.

I also appreciate harleysch's wry examples of the "rule of law" and "democracy" in the G-7, to which may be added Obama's "kill Tuesdays," multiplication of drone attacks, spreading Bush's wars to five more countries, and raising the number of countries in which U.S. paramilitary death squads are resident and operating by 168 per cent -- all of which are war crimes and crimes against humanity. The U.S. has never had any real use for the rule of law, not merely under Trump, but all along, except as a baseball bat to beat other countries over the head with. We are, in the title of William Blum's book, the epitome of a "Rogue Nation."

Thanks, Jim at Dr., for your correction of the record on Ukraine and Crimea, as well as Malaysia 17. It's good that when the usual bs is dragged out, lipstick and all, to reinforce the false narrative that keeps the war party fat and happy by maintaining the personal sliming of Russia and Putin, there are still people around to counter it. Also, thanks for the link to Crimea timeline, a useful reference.
 
 
0 # Salus Populi 2018-06-14 23:54
I also appreciate harleysch's wry examples of the "rule of law" and "democracy" in the G-7. The U.S.'s record in that regard is even worse.

As to "giving the South to North Korea" [janie 1983], it was pressure from China that caused Kim to give up the nukes, and join the multi-nation prosperity plan being assembled by Russia and China. Since the ROK is included in the plan, the
likelihood of a war with the South is now nil -- much to the chagrin of the fascists in the White House.
 

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