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Donald Trump has gone from Saudi Arabia where he was treated like a Sheik to Israel where Benjamin Netanyahu treated him like a kind of political Messiah.
Now though, Trump is in the less jolly European Union where he has met with EU officials ahead of a NATO summit in Belgium.
Trump had what was reportedly a less than jovial meeting with EU President Donald Tusk.
The Polish Donald said of his meeting with the American Donald,
“My feeling is that we agreed on many areas. First and foremost, on counter-terrorism, and I am sure that I do not have to explain why. But some issues remain open, like climate and trade. And I am not 100 per cent sure that we can say today —we meaning Mr. President Trump and myself- that we have a common opinion about Russia, although when it comes to the conflict in Ukraine, it seems that we were on the same line”.
This statement could be taken in a number of ways.
As a political regional-entity, the EU is the most anti-Russian region of the world. Tusk himself hails from among the most anti-Russian nations in a broadly anti-Russian EU. Exceptions to the Russophobic rule are generally found in southern Europe, where countries like Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, Italy and Spain, tend to have less overtly biased views on Russia-EU relations. In the case of Greece and Cyprus, most people see Russia in a positive light.
Thus, it is not difficult to see how Donald Trump who recently had a positive meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and has consistently offered warm words about the potential for Russia to cooperate with the US on wide ranging issues, would not see eye to eye with Donald Tusk.
However, on the ‘Ukrainian issue’, things are less clear. Under President Trump, the US congress has cut military aid to Ukraine and a leaked memo suggests that the US is looking to end its free supply of weapons to poorer countries around the world, instead asking them to purchase expensive US military hardware on credit.
Unlike Barack Obama, Donald Trump has said little about the Ukrainian war on Donbass and appears to be disinterested in the issue as it does not involve business, North Korea or so-called radical Islamic terrorism, the only three things his current foreign policy seems to be orientated to.
Trump’s real feelings on Russia and issues associated with Russia (rightly or wrongly) may come out accidentally during his time in Europe. While Saudi Arabia’s regalia clearly delighted the man who built the gilded Trump Tower and Israel’s anti-Iranian rhetoric doubtlessly thrilled a man who seems to have nothing good to say about Iran, in Europe both in terms of substance and style, Trump will likely be bored and exacerbated.
As a rule, mainstream European politicians tend to be bland, bureaucratic, uber-politically correct, globalsitic rather than patriotic in outlook, filled with jargon and out of touch with the realities of the social media age. Put simply, they are everything Trump is not.
Where the often confrontational Benjamin Netanyahu quoted Trump in calling terrorists ‘losers’, European politicians are more likely to call savage ISIS killers by more anodyne names, like ‘moderate rebels’ or ‘starving refugees’.
The road to Donald Trump’s head appears to be through his heart. Trump’s emotions, his visceral responses to events, often obscure broadly pragmatic and consequently correct views of the world. However, in order for Trump to articulate these views, he often explores them through the prism of instinct rather than analysis.
These views can be perverted into poor decision making such as when Ivanka Trump cried over staged White Helmets propaganda from Syria. This of course led to the most disastrous decision of Trump’s Presidency thus far, the decision to attack Syria.
But it also cuts the other way. Throughout the day, Donald Trump will hear and see leaders in Europe that he cannot relate to. This is miles away from the businesslike and good humoured attitude with which Sergey Lavrov represents Russia on a world stage. Indeed, Lavrov praised the ‘businesslike’ attitude of Trump after his recent meeting with POTUS in Washington.
The dour, technocratic attitude of the EU may just do the world a favour, they may remind Donald Trump of whom he can and cannot do business with.