December 3, 2018

G20 Summit

We're officially on Insta! Did I throw on a blazer at 5 am for all you lovely people? You bet I did!

Leaders of the world’s top economies agreed Saturday to repair the global trading system as they closed a Group of 20 summit that saw the Trump administration at odds with many allies over the Paris accord on climate change and issues like migration.”

AP News

In addition, “China and the United States agreed to a ceasefire in their bitter trade war on Saturday after high-stakes talks in Argentina between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.”


Finally, while Trump had canceled his formal meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Ukraine, “the two men did end up talking briefly Saturday on the sidelines of the G-20 — just long enough for Trump to ask Putin what he is up to in Ukraine, and for Putin to respond.”

AP News

See past issues

From the Left

The left is critical of the US’s diminishing role on the world stage, and worried about trade talks with China.

“At most of these G20 meetings, it is less the vast plenary sessions that set the tone and provide the headlines than the one-on-one conferences... But this year, most of these meetings were either removed or downsized at the last minute, leaving Trump curiously muted... Apart from the suspension of the cold war with China, there was little sense that the Trumpian agenda of America First and rest of the world be damned had changed one iota...

"Rather, the rest of the world seems simply to have accepted the new normal from its onetime leader and moved on... While the United States refused to sign the G7 closing communique in June, this year the other G20 signatories simply wrote in American exceptionalism to the document, reflecting the view of much of the western world -- with the exception of the United States.”


Regarding the outcome of Trump’s meeting with Chinese President Xi, “both sides are selling this agreement as a sign of progress, but the big issues remain unresolved. What’s more, Beijing and Washington might not even agree on what a final deal on trade would look like. The Chinese government said in a statement that both sides seek to reach a ‘mutually beneficial, win-win agreement'...

"But Trump’s previous demands of China sound less like a man in search of a compromise, [and more like] one seeking total domination — basically, the opposite of ‘win-win’...Plus, Trump sees tariffs as the ultimate bargaining chip, and so far that strategy has proven fairly successful... It doesn’t seem likely he’ll back down against China."


“The fact that a decision not to go ahead with a new round of tit-for-tat tariffs is seen as some sort of victory speaks volumes about the weakness of international cooperation. Nobody seriously thought the G20 gathering would address any of the global issues it is there to tackle: preventing another financial crisis and co-ordinating a sustainable growth strategy, for example. It turned into the usual excuse for glad-handing and grandstanding for politicians often quite relieved to get away from troubles back at home."

The Guardian

Finally, some are critical of Trump’s informal conversation with Putin. “The issue of how often Trump and Putin meet — usually outside the earshot of others — has become a more salient issue than ever. The question has increased in importance after revelations last week that Trump had been in negotiations, deep into his presidential campaign, to build a massive tower in Moscow."


Trump's “goal, it seems, is to put so much pressure on Tehran that it has no choice but to completely change its behavior — but he could end up leading the countries to the brink of war in the process… Now is typically the time when cooler heads prevail, but it’s unclear if there are cooler heads around… It’s hard to overstate how avoidable this situation was.”
Alex Ward, Vox

“In theory, there’s no reason why a bad businessman can’t go on to become a good president. But a commander-in-chief whose signature legislative achievement expanded tax loopholes that he himself describes as grossly unfair is pretty much a bad president, by definition.”
Eric Levitz, New York Magazine

From the Right

The right is generally supportive of Trump’s efforts at the summit.

From the Right

The right is generally supportive of Trump’s efforts at the summit.

Trump’s “cease-fire with China is good news for the economy and American workers... The larger message of this truce is that both sides seem to appreciate that an economic Cold War would benefit neither. The Chinese are worried about their slowing and heavily indebted economy, while Mr. Trump needs growth to have a chance at re-election. The incentive to strike a deal is compelling."

Wall Street Journal

Trump was able to extract a number of concessions from Chinese President Xi...

"Xi agreed to immediately begin buying more agricultural products from American farmers, along with a pledge to purchase more industrial and energy products...Additionally, China has also agreed to label the opioid fentanyl as a controlled substance, making anyone who sells fentanyl to the U.S. subjected to harsher penalties under Chinese law."

Daily Caller

“[The latter] is a huge victory for the United States because much of the Fentanyl currently in the country came from China. Synthetic opioid producers in the United States were buying the lethal product from China online and having it shipped overseas. The heightened classification to a controlled substance will hopefully prevent more shipments of Fentanyl to the United States, saving countless American lives."

Independent Journal-Review

Some, however, worry about “the possibility that there is less to the agreement than it seems. Or even that U.S. officials have heard in Chinese statements what they hoped to hear but not what China actually intended... From the perspective of [China’s] Global Times, Trump essentially agreed to the Chinese perspective on the relations of the two countries...That’s very different from Trump’s own view of the Buenos Aires truce, which he described as ‘an incredible deal’...

“Xi’s statement about ‘two major countries with great influence’ may have special meaning for a Chinese audience familiar with the works of Confucius, one that does not bode well for the notion of future cooperation between the U.S. and China. ‘There cannot two suns in the sky, nor two emperors on earth,’ Confucius said."


As for Trump’s overall approach to the summit, many note that “the United States muscled in ideas that our current leadership favors, and held out on those that our leadership does not favor. We dictated most of the terms. That is a feature, not a bug. Even if you favor policies this administration doesn't, or don't favor those it does, it means the U.S. was back in the driver's seat, and putting our interests first."

PJ Media

Others posit that “the reason Kim is developing missiles that can strike Seattle or LA is that 28,000 U.S. troops are in South Korea… If we cannot persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons in return for a lifting of sanctions, perhaps we should pull U.S. forces off the peninsula and let China deal with the possible acquisition of their own nuclear weapons by Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan…

“After an exhausting two weeks [between North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, and others], one is tempted to ask: How many quarrels, clashes and conflicts can even a superpower manage at one time? And is it not the time for the United States, preoccupied with so many crises, to begin asking, ‘Why is this our problem?’”
Pat Buchanan, Townhall

Counterpoint: “after the War of 1812, President Madison… enacted the Tariff of 1816 to price British textiles out of competition, so Americans would build the new factories and capture the booming U.S. market. It worked. Tariffs [also] financed Mr. Lincoln’s War. The Tariff of 1890 bears the name of Ohio Congressman and future President William McKinley, who said that a foreign manufacturer ‘has no right or claim to equality with our own… He pays no taxes. He performs no civil duties’… [A tariff’s] purpose is not just to raise revenue but to make a nation economically independent of others, and to bring its citizens to rely upon each other rather than foreign entities.”
Patrick J. Buchanan, The American Conservative

A libertarian's take

“The scoop reflects poorly on Trump, who willfully misled the public for a decade in hopes of fraudulently representing himself as a man with a Midas touch. But he could not have succeeded without the assistance of many Americans, some mercenary, others over-credulous, who helped to spread the deceit and deception, generating countless newspaper articles, magazine stories, and TV segments that misinformed the public about the publicity hound’s record in business. New evidence of his staggering losses in that decade therefore provides an apt occasion to reflect on the media’s complicity in Trump’s brazen deceit and deception… Let [this] be a lesson for today’s tabloids, gossip columnists, over-credulous or mercenary journalists, and reality-television producers.”
Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

On the bright side...

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