Donald Trump’s rampage across Europe reminds us that he is a buffoon with a bouffant.
His brittle personality is aptly symbolised by his insubstantial, highly lacquered, yellow-dyed comb-over fascinator hair-do that “milliner to the stars” Philip Treacy would envy for its ambition.
Trump’s grotesque pre-summit interview with The Sun in which he deliberately sought to de-stabilise Theresa May by trashing her judgment, her policies and her achievement in avoiding a hard Brexit reveals him to be increasingly uncouth in the world of diplomacy and thuggish at heart.
It was little wonder that he chose to talk up Boris Johnson as a future British leader in the same interview. Boris, by the way, manages to disguise his own over-combing by a less obvious half-trashed haystack hairstyle.
Having brazenly demanded that Nato member-states increase their defence spending to 4% of GNP (which they won’t do) and having roundly attacked Angela Merkel for her policy of engagement with Russia, he surprised nobody by being equally dismissive of the UK and its prime minister.
It is easy to see that Trump has a deep-seated contempt for women politicians – especially those who are, in his opinion, too old to grope in the manner of which he once boasted.
He clearly intended to belittle and insult both Merkel and May by launching withering personal attacks on both of them before meeting them. It shows a nastiness of mind and a flawed character which he and those in his badly bullied entourage mistake for toughness.
He is attracted to thugs and thuggery which he considers as forceful, full-blooded political behaviour. Hence his poorly disguised admiration for Vladimir Putin whom he will meet in Finland tomorrow.
Thinking back to his false claim about the size of the crowd at his inauguration, there is an irony in the record crowd who attended at the anti-Trump rally in London on Saturday.
It was a record. No American President has ever had a bigger protest rally than this one. Especially when he has been kept so far away from the madding crowds. Poor old Blenheim Palace was pressed into service as a ceremonial backdrop for his foray into England.
Trump has, apparently, convinced himself that the people of Ireland and Scotland like him. This seems to be connected with the fact that he owns three golf courses, two in Scotland and one at Doonbeg in County Clare. An internet search will reveal just how likeable or not Donald Trump is in the eyes of the Scottish people. A documentary is available on Youtube showing how thuggish Trump was with his neighbours in Scotland – particularly a local Scottish farmer whose ramshackled farmyard was considered by Trump to be visually offensive. Trump attempted to have the farmer expropriated by the local authority when he would not sell out to Trump.
Trump is deeply hostile to the European Union and did his level best to support political forces across the EU member states who were campaigning for the disintegration of the Union. At one point he proposed appointing a savage critic of the European Union as US ambassador to the EU. This mirrored his appointment of a wholly unsuitable head of environmental protection back home in the US. His only environmental credentials were extreme hostility to virtually every environmental cause.
Trump’s summit with Vladimir Putin tomorrow must be viewed in the light of Putin’s recent meeting at the Kremlin with Binyanin Netanyahu on Wednesday last. Netanyahu travelled to Moscow to sell a “grand bargain” by means of which the United States would bury the hatchet with Moscow, accept Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, drop all sanctions against Moscow and in return come to an agreement concerning a containment policy for Iran.
Some Israeli ministers have been using their new re-found closest of close relationships with the White House to advance the idea of persuading Russia to “trade Ukraine for Syria”.
This idea, it has been reported, is also supported by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The plan to contain Iran is clearly one which would attract US interest if Russia was willing to nibble at the bait.
However, Russia’s clear interest is to end the Syrian civil war, re-establish Damascus control over all of Syria, and safeguard Russian influence in post-civil war Syria.
The Iranian presence in Syria is only of interest to Russia as part of the process of finishing off the anti-Assad rebellion which was financed by the Saudis, the Qataris and others and was encouraged by the western powers as a hoped for gain from the so-called Arab Spring.
It really doesn’t matter to Russia whether Iran remains influential in Syria. Assad, for his part, has no particular interest in having Iranians active within his jurisdiction in the long term. While the Iranian backed Hezbollah in Lebanon have been a thorn in the side of Israel and a useful regional ally for Assad, the Damascus government really wants to re-establish its authority over all of Syria and needs peace to break out along its borders and among its close neighbours.
A Middle East in which Syria remains intact and within the Russian sphere of influence (including being host to a Russian naval base in the Mediterranean) is probably all that Russia requires at this point. Likewise, Moscow would prefer to have detante with Erdogan’s Turkey and this depends in part on the re-establishment of Syrian sovereignty over the Kurdish north eastern provinces in Syria itself.
For all these reasons, and especially in view of the failure of the Saudi efforts to topple the Hariri government in Beirut and the failure of the Islamist rebellion in Syria, it may well be that a new understanding between the White House and the Kremlin might lead to the reduction, if not elimination, of any Iranian presence in post-civil war Syria.
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Trump’s diplomatic buffoonery has been motivated in part to impress Vladimir Putin. If so, there may be some method to what otherwise appears to be madness.
It is by no means clear whether Trump has made any real, as opposed to rhetorical, progress on the issue of North Korea’s nuclear weapons. For all his posturing and tweeting, Trump has little to show for his international activities thus far.
In this context, the decision by a majority of the Irish Seanad to advance a legislative ban on the importation for sale in Ireland of goods originating in illegally established enterprises in the occupied lands of the Palestinians was brave and correct.
The outrage expressed by the Israeli government at the Seanad decision was entirely predictable but should be seen for what it is. That one chamber of one legislature in the European Union should take this step is significant. It reminds Israel and its American ally that creeping annexation of the territory in which the international community aspires to make real a two state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict remains unlawful and will not be permitted to become “a fact on the ground”.