Trump’s tired of leading the world, so he’d rather have China do it
Even until a year ago, it would’ve been unimaginable for a US president to ask world leaders to put their national interests before those of the international community. It’s the kind of thing that’s understood, but never said – certainly not by the American president.
But in his speech, Donald Trump said, “As president of the United States, I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries will always, and should always, put your countries first” – making it the most significant line of his speech, writes Fareed Zakaria in The Washington Post.
“Trump is tired of being the world’s leader,” Zakaria writes. “He whined in his speech that other countries are unfair in their dealings with the United States, and that somehow the most powerful nation in the world, which dominates almost every international forum, is being had.”
“Trump grumbled about the fact that the United States pays 22 percent of the U.N.’s budget, which is actually appropriate because it’s roughly equivalent to America’s share of global GDP. Were he to scale back U.S. support, he might be surprised how fast a country like China will leap in to fill the gap. And once it does, China will dominate and shape the United Nations — and the global agenda — just as the United States has done for seven decades,” he concludes.
Putin refuses to see Michail Kalashnikov’s ‘spiritual pain’
It was only the latest act in Vladimir Putin’s continued efforts to appropriate symbols of Russian patriotism and religion. Yet, the unveiling of Lt-Gen Mikhail Kalashnikov’s – the designer of the AK-47 – giant monument in central Moscow stood out.
“About 100 million AK-47s have been built worldwide, many of them knockoffs produced in countries around the world. It has been used to kill untold millions of people; so powerful is its symbolism that it figures on the flags of Mozambique and the Islamist movement Hezbollah, as well as the coats of arms of Zimbabwe and East Timor.”
The horrors that his creation unleashed on humanity unnerved Kalashnikov as well. “Shortly before his death in 2013 at the age of 94, he laid out his doubts in a letter to the Russian Orthodox patriarch, Kirill. ‘My spiritual pain is unbearable,’ he wrote; if his automatic weapon deprived people of life, he asked, was he not ‘guilty of people’s deaths, even enemies?’”
“Hopefully, the statue of General Kalashnikov will lead some viewers past Mr. Putin’s nationalistic intentions and to the painful questions that the inventor of the world’s most abundant weapon wrestled with. That should be his legacy,” notes this editorial in The New York Times.
Think out of the box, Trump
Once again, Trump has ordered a widening of American sanctions on North Korea. The announcement almost comes as a relief to those worried by his vow to “totally destroy North Korea” only days ago. The president, for all his hawkish posturing, is still committed to applying economic pressure rather than military action, it seems.
But North Korea requires some “creative thinking” writes David Ignatius. “U.S. officials need, first, to decide how serious a threat North Korea truly poses to America. If major cities are at risk, and Kim Jong Un’s erratic behavior can’t be deterred, then perhaps the United States should indeed be planning to denuclearize North Korea by force.”
“Suppose, instead, that the United States and its allies decide that North Korea isn’t worth the risks of either military or covert action. What then? To be cynically honest, we must recognize that sometimes it’s less costly to bribe an adversary than to go to war. What blandishments would get Kim to agree to halt his testing program?” he asks.
Theresa May is left alone on a sinking ship
Britain and its prime minister are in a mess, and the Brexiters or “the architects of this chaos”, are ready to flee her “sinking ship”, writes Ian Birrell in this op-ed in The Guardian.
Boris Johnson tops Birrell’s need-to-be-sacked list. “He has become like a Donald Trump armed with a thesaurus and some knowledge of the classics – a flashy showman with flexible political opinions who, for all his bombastic rhetoric, focuses only on making Boris great. But, despite collateral damage to colleagues, nation and party, this selfish man will conclude that his mission has been accomplished. He’s prepared the ground to resign if needed, amid angry talk of Brexit ‘betrayal’.”
Dominic Cummings, the strategic brain behind Brexit, has been giving some rather unambiguous indications. In his tweets, he was scathing about “the shambles now unfolding which he blamed on the ‘historic unforgivable blunder’ of triggering article 50 too fast and, before adequate preparation.”
Challenges for the prime minister are immense. “May must choose whether to side with people such as Johnson, who preach nationalism yet show conceited contempt for fellow citizens and colleagues, or find a path through the morass they created that lessens the damage by retaining fluid and open relationships with our allies,” he concludes.
And then they met
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Donald Trump met at the United Nations two days ago and neither spoke about it. Until yesterday, that is, when Abbasi revealed, “I also met President Donald Trump at his reception and we discussed the issue in brief. He was also very positive about Pakistan’s role and the continuity of the Pakistan-US partnership to fight terror.”
The meeting comes at a time when the US has been snubbing Islamabad and the relationship between the two former allies is on a downward course with Trump degrading the partnership with Pakistan and seeking instead a greater role for India in Afghanistan.
“I think any misconceptions will go away. We remain a partner in the war against terror. That’s the basic issue at hand here,” he said. “We will continue to engage with the American efforts taken to fight the war against terror, and also to find peace in Afghanistan.”
Asked if he sees a greater role for India in Afghanistan like Trump, Abbasi said, “Zero. India — we don’t foresee any political or military role for India in Afghanistan. I think it will just complicate the situation and it will not resolve anything.”