Washington - Looking every inch the isolated schoolboy, a group photo of the G20 Summit leaders making the rounds on social media is the perfect indicator of just how far the US has fallen on a scale of international esteem.
Washington – Looking every inch the isolated schoolboy, a group photo of the G20 Summit leaders making the rounds on social media is the perfect indicator of just how far the US has fallen on a scale of international esteem.
In a sea of animated and smiling faces, US President, Donald Trump, looks out of place, standing alone in a group of men and women who should be his peers.
Given his historic bluster, however, one could be forgiven for wondering if he knows he’s being increasingly isolated by the international community. It’s an unprecedented question to ask the president of arguably the world’s greatest super power.
It would have been unthinkable just one year ago. Barack Obama was president and the world was deferential, if not to the man then certainly to his office. It seems a lifetime ago now.
We are in the Trump era and, if anyone needed proof, this single photograph speaks volumes on the subject. In the Trump era, abroad, as at home, reversals of fortune are everyday occurrences.
There have been clues leading up to this spectacular fall. Only inaugurated in January, by the time G7 leaders met in May, Trump was already an isolated figure, having revelled in expressing diametrically opposing views on international trade, the refugee crisis and, of course, climate change.
These reasons alone would have been enough to draw a circle around the isolationist President but it was his personal gaffes which commanded most of the attention and ultimately began the lowering of the US’s standing in international opinion.
Physically pushing his way past a fellow leader for a spot at the front in a group picture was considered crass and the act of a bully. Opting for a ride in a golf cart while other leaders walked further isolated him.
Then there have been the daily, weekly and monthly Twitter barrages, at times so vitriolic that many observers have openly questioned his mental stability and, therefore, competence to occupy the position with which the American people have entrusted him. The latest assault, on a female news anchor with US network, MSNBC, occurred just days before the G20 leaders met. It was raw and unchecked by common sense and came like an angry bolt from the petulant blue, causing even fellow Republicans to beg him to “just stop.”
Cut to the G20 Summit in Hamburg and, if one believed Trump’s own reckless bravado, he was making international strides. But, as with most things Trump, one has only to look past the gold plating to see the that all is not right in Trumpland.
At the conclusion of one, two-hour meeting with Russian leader, Vladimir Putin Trump threw months of painstaking investigation into complete chaos, announcing that he was ready to believe Putin’s innocence regarding the issue of Russian hacking during the last US election campaign. What convinced him? Putin said so. No evidence offered, no proof of non-involvement, just Putin’s word.
Cynical observers were left shaking their heads at the apparent Presidential naivety.
In an unprecedented and painfully myopic move, Trump felt it was acceptable to have his unelected and inexperienced daughter take his place and represent the United States in a meeting he was too disinterested to attend himself.
Which brings us to the afore-mentioned photograph. All the classic Trump bluster aside, this single picture tells a contradictory tale. As other world leaders lean in to each other and enjoy miniature scenes of casual conviviality, Trump’s isolation becomes almost painful to observe.
There is one important detail to consider, however, before issuing the man too much sympathy. Donald Trump isolated himself and he did so with spectacular self-interest. As he begins to gear up for re-election, America needs to ask itself a couple of key questions; How low is too low for America to sink on the world stage? And, how far in the erosion of world opinion regarding the United States is too far before it becomes irretrievably lost?