The sociable and self-assured President of the United States (US) Donald Trump cut an isolated figure at the G20 summit in Hamburg. In recent meetings with European leaders Donald Trump has been the central character. Before the Paris Climate Change meetings, he was disruptive and forceful – pushing the United States’ narrative on issues at the cost of everyone else. At the G20, that disruption seems to have marked him; while still a part of their considerations, the world leaders are not looking to the US for leadership and policy benchmarks, and are moving forward with their own agendas despite of the US’s opposition.
This isolation is not merely a subtle snub at the summit, although that is part of it too, the real indication of how much the US has isolated itself is the agreement on climate change. On Saturday, world leaders decided to move forward collectively on climate change without the US, declaring the Paris accord “irreversible”. They did include some concessions to the US president in terms of the language employed but substantially the message is clear – the US position is not acceptable and the rest of the world will not cater to it.
Donald Trump’s agenda seemed to meet the same fate wherever he went; from trade to immigration, whatever issue was under discussion, the US seemed to be outside the debate, holding on to positions that the world has abandoned. Even his much touted personal diplomacy seemed to be off the mark, despite meeting with most world leaders the most significant meeting Donald Trump held was with Russian President Vladamir Putin – his first since he got elected.
While the world tried to maintain a studied distance from Putin over human rights violations and the aggression in Crimea, Donald Trump sat down and talked with the president for over three hours, delaying his meeting with the British Prime Minister to the next day – much to the irritation of other world leaders.