Trump Holds Macho Meeting With Putin. World Sighs

Donald Trump yet again reset his attitude to President Vladimir Putin with a high profile speech in Waraw warning to Russia to “cease its destabilising activities” in Ukraine and its support for hostile regimes including Syria. The address on 6 July came just 24 hours ahead of a meeting between the two men on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg. The world’s media reflect on the latest flip flop by the US president.

Trump and Putin meet in testosterone-fuelled face-off

It’s the ultimate man-off: Vladimir V. Putin and Donald J. Trump, two leaders who have staked their appeal on projecting masculinity, face off with the world judging who prevails.

Each is almost a cartoonish version of hyper-masculinity [and has ] built his following partly on unmanning his predecessor, on restoring strength to a country that each successfully portrayed as weakened by past policy concessions.

Mr Trump has set himself up with little room to manoeuvre. He’s built his brand, and much of his foreign policy, on masculine strength. He lost the handshake contest to Emmanuel Macron of France. And he’s walking into a meeting with a country seen by much of the world as an aggressor who has already scored points against the United States with its interference in a domestic election. The cost of any perceived weakness could be high for both combatants - and the projection of masculinity they hold so dear.

- Susan Chira, New York Times

Donald Trump's warning about 'western civilisation' evokes holy war

The Trump advance team is probably high-fiving each other over their collective brilliance in choosing Warsaw as the venue for the president’s apocalyptic message to Europe. The combination of a welcoming right-wing government that shares Trump’s disdain for a free press and the emotional weight of Polish history seemed irresistible.

There was only one problem — the weight of Polish history makes the current threat from “radical Islamic terrorism” seem petty in comparison. What, precisely, is the threat to Western civilization?

Lonely religious zealots who drive trucks into crowds and set off bombs in concert halls? An Islamic State in full retreat in Iraq and Syria? Fanatical imams who preach hatred on websites and in YouTube videos?

Trump’s political career is rooted in the stoking of fear. For a president whose grasp of theology abruptly stops at Two Corinthians, Trump seems to revel in the concept of a holy war. For that was at the core of his inflammatory rhetoric about the survival of Western civilization. About all that was missing from Trump’s Warsaw war cry was a rousing chorus of Onward Christian Soldiers.

- Walter Shapiro, The Guardian

Why we need Trump and Putin to get along

Relations between the West and Moscow, after several years of slow disintegration, have plunged over the edge due to a combination of competing geopolitical interests, Russian nostalgia, Western arrogance and hurt pride. And the result, most will agree, is a world that is more unstable than it has been in a long time.

As such, there are good reasons to treat the Russian president with respect and consideration. That doesn't mean agreeing with everything he says or ignoring the problems that exist. The example that should be followed is that of Reagan and Gorbachev.

Or that of new French President Emmanuel Macron. In late May, Macron invited Vladimir Putin to Paris and received him with great pomp in Versailles. But Macron didn't just seek to charm his guest. He also spoke publicly and plainly about Russian missteps and overreach. It is a recipe that the US president would be wise to emulate. And it is quite simple: respect and clear language.

- Dietmar Pieper, Der Spiegel

When Donald Trump multiplies kindness towards Vladimir Putin

The US political apparatus does not seem to share Donald Trump's affinities with Vladimir Putin, so the latter recently told the Russian press that relations between Russia and the United States had "deteriorated" since then arrival of the billionaire at the White House. The Russian president took advantage of his meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in early June in St. Petersburg to criticise the "Russian russophobia". He again mentioned the mistrust of the European countries and the United States towards Russia a month ago. On June 15, the US Senate imposed new sanctions on Moscow for its role in the Ukrainian crisis, preventing Donald Trump's possible leniency. The Russian president replied that these new sanctions would "complicate" the relationship between the two powers. This "hidden protectionism", which the head of the Russian administration denounced on the eve of his meeting with the American president, threatens the "principles of the G20 on cooperation in the interests of all the countries of the world”.

Moscow nonetheless affirmed that "the United States is not their enemy", and called for dialogue with Washington. The hour of truth is approaching, with this meeting that will allow Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to review the various files on which they are opposed.

Camille Bouscasse, Le Figaro

The US president’s America First stance has seen him surrender his nation’s power

Mr Trump would like to do a deal with Vladimir Putin when the two leaders meet at the gathering of G20 leaders in Hamburg. The odds are that the cabinet grown-ups will block anything substantive, although nothing can be ruled out with so volatile and meretricious a president. What aides and advisers cannot do is change Mr Trump’s worldview.

Mr Trump’s approach is shaped by impulses, instincts and prejudices. Mr Putin has what the political scientists call a grand strategy. The US president snatches at power; the Russian leader understands it. Yes, Mr Putin is opportunistic, but to a purpose.

The strategy is to degrade and eventually dismantle the US-led, post-cold war settlement and replace it by an international system based on great power primacy and regional hegemonies. In the west, the concert established at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, with its spheres of influence and great power balancing, is just another piece of history. For the Kremlin, it offers a model for today’s international relations.

What Mr Putin could never have imagined is that he would find such a willing collaborator in the White House. Mr Trump shares the Kremlin worldview. Mr Putin is well on the way, courtesy of the White House, to achieving his grand strategic ambition. The US is estranged from its European partners; allies almost everywhere have lost trust in Mr Trump; and Washington now eschews the international leadership it had come to view as a birthright. If you are Mr Putin this marks a great victory. For everyone else, it speaks to a much more dangerous world.

- Philip Stephens, Financial Times

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