The President’s Week May Have Many Consequences
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
Having disposed of one of his Administration’s most formative distractions–EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt–President Trump can now rev up for one of the busiest weeks of his Presidency. While the immediate focus undoubtedly will be on the President’s prime time announcement of his Supreme Court nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, the events that will follow in Europe will escalate much faster than the Senate’s confirmation process.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Trump likely will face a wall of opponents in Brussels at the NATO Summit meeting. Having consistently frayed relationships with America’s closest European allies and after his recent performance in Canada at the meeting of the G-7, none of the participants would be surprised if Trump were to once again engage in a very aggressive attack against the defense organization. He can suggest that his critique of NATO is only about whether all the participants are paying their fair share. In fact, Trump favors dissolving alliances and not strengthening multilateral relationships. His partners at the Summit also have a variety of turbulent political situations at home: Germany, Italy, and Great Britain just for starters. The NATO leaders also are looking ahead with trepidation at Trump’s meeting the following week in Helsinki with Vladimir Putin. In fact, many of the NATO leaders already feel that–so far—Trump has been accomplishing Russia’s bidding for them.
When he then travels from Brussels to Great Britain together with Theresa May for his long awaited state visit, beyond the pomp—which Trump loves—he will find a British Government overwhelmingly engaged in the tumult created since Friday as the Tory Government continues to jockey over how proceed with Brexit. May will arrive in Brussels with her Government’s new Brexit white paper to be released on Thursday and facing major internal conflicts within her own party; including whether she even can remain the leader of the Conservative Party. The members of the European Union dissatisfied with how Britain is negotiating its departure from Europe. Jeremy Corbyn is undoubtedly smacking his lips as his Labour Party watches the Tories struggle.
Next Monday, Trump’s much discussed meeting with Putin will occur with the backdrop of all this week’s events. The most frightening part of their bi-lateral meeting will undoubtedly be the time Trump will spend alone with Putin. While the balance of their discussions and meals are expected to be fully staffed, most observers believe their private conversations present the greatest concern to the U.S. It is likely also to be the venue within which the most critical global concerns will be raised. It would be the only place where Russian interference in U.S. and Western elections might be addressed.
With this as a background for an unnerving week, there is no doubt that Trump is really looking forward to a private weekend in Scotland where he can play golf at his own resorts before the Putin meeting. No politics will interfere with that schedule. The only thing which could negatively impact that plan will be the Scottish weather.