Don’t mean to distract anyone from the importance of facelift tweets and snarky responses. But the business of United States national security and foreign relations continues as President Trump preps his second overseas trip for next week.
He’ll be trying to repeat the success of his first foreign expedition, a nine-day May foray to the Middle East and Europe. This time it’s just Poland and Germany. But the trip comes, as often seems to occur, following another self-inflicted Twitter mess over, of all things, a couple of talk-show hosts.
Trump impressed as presidential on last month’s stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy and Belgium.
This voyage, however, involves two key allies. Obama, you remember, cut Poland off at the knees when without notifying Warsaw, he unilaterally nixed an Eastern Europe missile defense system as a useless suck-up bid to Putin. In Warsaw, Trump will meet with political officials, including Baltic and Balkan leaders, and he’ll address the Polish people in Krasinski Square where the 1944 Warsaw Uprising unfolded.
It’s a short trip that reveals Trump’s political and economic priorities, including aggressively marketing U.S. energy exports; the first American LNG shipment reached Poland this month.
But it’s not an easy assignment given the strategic importance of both places and the atmospheric warming with Germany’s Angela Merkel over the Paris climate accord and style. Ed has covered that part here.
The most media attention understandably will fall on Trump’s initial encounter with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who’ll also be hanging around the G-20 summit in Hamburg.
They agreed to meet this year during a January phone call and we wrote of Putin’s expectations here. Mainly they involve at least starting to thaw the frosty relationthat prevailed under what’s-his-name last year. But will Trump raise Russian meddling in last year’s election? Will he talk about ongoing harassing of U.S. planes and ships in international spaces? Is Putin interested in helping curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions?
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster claims there’s no Putin agenda yet, not on topics, not even on location or length. Maybe so. Maybe they just don’t want to telegraph topics.
A key Trump goal is building relationships with other leaders, some of whom he’s met, identifying mutual threats and common approaches to them and reasserting U.S. leadership. Think, Russia and terrorism.
According to White House aides, Trump will reassure NATO allies of the U.S. commitment to it and common defense and he’ll hail Poland for surpassing the goal of 2% GDP defense spending while maintaining pressure on others.
He also intends to reassure others, McMaster reiterates, that “America first does not mean America alone,” whether in trade, NATO or climate discords. They’ll be asking Trump why he’s discarding the Paris climate agreement and he’ll respond that it was a bad deal for the U.S., curbing growth there while not elsewhere. But he’s willing to talk another agreement.
Will Trump continue his inciteful Tweeting on the road? He took a Tweetcation on the last foreign trip. That would go over well with many Americans. A new Fox News Poll finds a whopping 71% agree Trump’s 140-character often petty pronouncements hurt his agenda. Only 17% think they help.