Trump back from his world tour


President Trump is back from his first official international trip.  Most observers from all sides say that he did well in the religion part of his journey, visiting Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Pope.  In Europe, for the NATO meeting and the G7 summit, he didn’t make himself any friends, but he made himself clear.

He berated the NATO members that do not pay their treaty-mandated fair share to the military partnership.  This irked the representatives of those countries, but surely he has a point there.  (Wouldn’t Democrats also agree that the USA shouldn’t fit the entire bill for protecting European nations?)

But he didn’t commit the United States to Article V of the NATO treaty, which provides that an attack on any member nation will be considered to be an attack on them all.  That commitment is a matter of international law, and the State Department says that of course the United States would abide by it, coming to the defense of any NATO member who is attacked.  But Trump has earlier questioned that provision–at least in the case of nations that are behind in their payments–and Europe hoped that he would state his commitment to that key article.

Nor did President Trump agree to be a part of the Paris climate accord.

German prime minister Angela Merkel says that the European countries can’t necessarily depend on other nations and in many areas may have to go it alone. That’s being taken as a criticism of Trump, but I suspect Trump would agree with her.

Meanwhile, media attention concentrated on trivial but supposedly telling gestures:  Trump pushing aside the president of Montenegro so he could be in the front row of the official photograph of world leaders.  Trump and new French president Macron turning a photo-op handshake into a macho hand-squeezing contest (which Macron admitted).  Trump’s comment that Germany is “bad” in trade, referring to our trade imbalance with that country, being translated to say Germany is “evil.”  In short, European leaders don’t like Trump, but they know he is someone to contend with. [Read more…]

Presidential pomp and grandeur HOAX

UPDATE: The following story going around is not true. I believe there is a car like “The Beast” and some of the details about the security arrangements may be true, but the $200 million-per-day expense and the squadron of ships and probably other examples of wretched excess are not. Thanks to Webmonk and Kirk for digging up the facts. I apologize to the President for this error.

A British account of our President’s travel arrangements during his trip to Asia:

Probably not since the days of the Pharaohs or the more ludicrous Roman Emperors has a head of state travelled in such pomp and expensive grandeur as the President of the United States of America.

While lesser mortals – the Pope, Queen Elizabeth and so on – are usually happy to let their hosts handle most of the security and transport arrangements when they venture beyond their home shores, the United States creates a mini-America on the move to ensure that nothing is left to chance.

At the heart of the White House caravan is ‘The Beast’, a gigantic, ‘pimped-up’ General Motors Cadillac which security experts say is, short of an actual battle tank, probably the safest road vehicle on the planet.

But an outlandish car is only the start. Mr Obama will fly, of course, on Air Force One, the presidential private jumbo jet, which, boasting double beds and suites, is fitted out more like a luxury yacht. Some reports suggest it costs around $50,000 (£31,000) an hour to operate.

Of course threats can come from any direction, so a squadron of U.S. naval ships will patrol offshore. Some reports have claimed that 34 ships, including two aircraft carriers, will be involved (not far off the size of the Royal Navy’s entire Surface Fleet) but the White House has denied this.

On land, as well as The Beast, Mr Obama’s entourage will travel in a fleet of 45 U.S.-built armoured limousines, half of which will be decoys. He will also travel with 30 elite sniffer dogs, mostly German Shepherds.

The White House has, according to some reports, booked the entire Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, the city’s most luxurious. It is not uncommon for the grander heads of state to reserve a floor or two, but a whole hotel is unprecedented. This hotel was the main target of the 2008 attacks by Pakistani militants which left 166 dead.

As to the cost of all this, the White House will not reveal details – which has allowed Mr Obama’s political foes to bandy about sums including a widely-quoted $200million (£123million) a day. Whatever the figure, it makes the costs associated with the Royal Train and the late Royal Yacht Britannia seem like small change.

It is also reported that a bomb-proof tunnel will be erected for Mr Obama ahead of his visit to Mani Bhavan – the Gandhi museum – on Saturday.

via Obama’s India visit security erect a bomb proof tunnel at the Gandhi museum | Mail Online.

The British are masters of pomp and grandeur, so it takes a lot  to get them indignant.  I don’t begrudge the security measures, but it still looks like the American empire is #1 in wretched excess.