Thursday, July 20, 2017


"Whom US presidents engage and how they engage in settings such as these can have lasting implications for foreign policy and the US’s relationships with allies and adversaries. That is why presidents and cabinet members always follow a set of rules on engaging foreign leaders, rules that Mr Trump recklessly disregarded in his one-hour meeting with Mr Putin.... For one reason or another, while he was at the G20 dinner, Mr Trump decided that, irrespective of what his team had spent months planning, he would disregard both their guidance and standard protocol and meet Mr Putin for a second time. How do we know his team had not planned for an informal pull aside with Russia at the dinner? They did not send a translator who spoke Russian. There are many reasons why this unplanned meeting with Mr Putin is so disturbing and dangerous. Most troubling is that the presidents of Russia and the US met without staff and an American translator. Doing so gave the Russians a huge advantage. It enabled Mr Putin to say things he might not have said in the presence of his own staff or Mr Trump’s. It ensured that there would not be any formal record of the conversation, granting Russia as much control over the narrative as the US. And it allowed Mr Putin to claim something was “lost in translation” if, as is often the case, he fails to follow through in the future on a promise made to Mr Trump. The latter will probably live to regret ceding control of the meeting. Equally troubling was the fact that the meeting lasted an hour, which means it was neither happenstance nor a brief pull aside. If the two leaders met for an hour, we can be sure they were not comparing notes on the food. The US president was discussing policy with the president of a country actively working to undermine democratic institutions on both sides of the Atlantic. Did Mr Trump, with his notorious pro-Russian views, promise to lift sanctions, give up on Ukraine or ignore Russia’s human rights abuses at home? We will never know. Finally, the discussion took place in front of all the other attendees, including some countries that failed to secure even one meeting with Mr Trump. The optics of this discussion — Mr Trump and Mr Putin sitting together for an hour — will not have gone unnoticed by the US’s closest allies. It sent a clear signal about how much the US values Russia, a signal that Mr Putin certainly relished.".
Julianne Smith, "Putting aside protocol spells danger for Donald Trump". The Financial Times. 20 July 2017, in
"Does it matter, gentlemen, as a practical question, whether we are, in the present case, dealing with stupidity or treason? When the Duma keeps everlastingly insisting that the rear must be organized for a successful struggle, the Government persists in claiming that organizing the country means organizing a revolution, and deliberately prefers chaos and disorganization. What is it, stupidity or treason"?
Pavel Milyukov, Leader of the Kadet Party, in speech to the Russian State Duma on the 14th of November 1916.
There are two ways of analyzing the Trumperian behavior at the G-20 summit in having an unscheduled and it would appear a completely unbriefed and unprepared meeting with the Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin: first that like a wayward and ill-disciplined child, President Trump had this unscheduled meeting with Grazhdanin Putin because he 'wanted to' and that was that. There was nothing untowards meant nor discussed, merely like a five-year old who has been told that he cannot take a chocolate biscuit, will when no one is around he immediately endeavor to reach around and eat said biscuit. Pur et simple. Nothing malevolent, merely au fond endemic stupidity. The second way of looking at the matter is that President Trump is some species of a 'Manchurian Candidate', who has been parachuted into the American Presidency. And that everything that he does between now and the day that he leaves office is for purposes of pleasing his Russian puppet masters. The second scenario may perhaps be in fact true. I do hope that it is not. But until sufficient evidence comes into play to prove that, I believe that it is more likely that Trump is merely behaving like a five-year old child and the more backward variant of those do have a tendency to engage in this type of stupidity. Which is not to deny that there are dangers in this type of behavior. Nor that for the most part, ignoring protocol is indeed dangerous and that diplomatic protocol exists for a reason. Unfortunately, five-year old children tend to be impervious to the reasoning of adults.


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