President Donald Trump enjoys saying publicly that America is finally respected again, now that that he has assumed the nation’s highest office — he said it again in October during remarks at the 2018 National Electrical Contractors Association Convention, commenting that America is “respected again, like we haven’t been respected in many, many decades.”
But even a cursory review of world leaders’ behavior toward Trump paints an entirely different picture — one that shows foreign leaders “increasingly using Trump as a foil — or a punchline”, as Aaron Blake of The Washington Post noted.
> Increasingly, when Trump graces the world stage, he is being trolled, not-so-subtly rebuked, or used as a foil in ways that suggest foreign countries see Trump less as someone worthy of fear and respect, and more as a tool they can use for their own purposes.
> This sort of thing is often coming from allies and official sources.
A short list follows.
> In recent days, both French President Emmanuel Macron and the French army have cast Trump in a not entirely flattering light. Macron seemed to pretty directly rebuke Trump during a speech Sunday, even as the U.S. president was still in Paris for World War I remembrances. In a speech, Macron described nationalism — a term Trump embraced for the first time a few weeks ago — as a “betrayal of patriotism.” Macron also decried the “selfishness of nations only looking after their own interests.” The remarks could have been directed at any of the nationalist leaders of the world, but it wasn’t difficult to draw a line between them and Trump’s very recent nationalist declaration.
Earlier this year, at the U.N. General Assembly where Trump was audibly laughed at when he bragged that no administration in U.S. history had accomplished more than his in just two years, Macron spoke out against Trump’s wielding of sovereignty as a weapon.
> While the laughter got the most attention, Macron delivered a speech that appeared to rebuke Trump’s emphasis on “sovereignty.” “I shall never stop upholding the principle of sovereignty,” Macron said, “even in the face of certain nationalism which we’re seeing today, brandishing sovereignty as a way of attacking others.”
Then there was the French army’s Twitter trolling after Trump sat out a ceremony at France’s Aisne-Marne American Cemetery due to the weather: “There is rain, but it does not matter. We remain motivated.”
> The apparent trolling of Trump has extended to other allies. In June at the Group of Seven, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presented Trump with a framed picture of a hotel Trump’s grandfather ran in Canada, which was reportedly a brothel. (Trump denies it was a brothel.)
> Nordic leaders also seemed to possibly be trolling Trump in May 2017, when they took a photo reminiscent of the viral photo of Trump and the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Egypt with their hands on a glowing orb. The Nordic leaders denied that it was intended as such, despite the parallels.
The Post notes that any one of these — and indeed, there are more — could be construed as a matter of coincidence, but together, they paint an image difficult to ignore.
> The totality of them suggests Trump is viewed as something of a foil — and occasionally as a punchline — by foreign leaders whose constituencies largely aren’t fans of Trump’s.