It is doubtful that Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Emmanuel Macron, and other key world leaders have gotten over their disappointment after Trump decided to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement. But if you watch their exchanges and behavior with President Trump during the G20 summit today, it would seem like they completely forgot about that whole incident.
First, there’s Trump and Merkel’s friendly handshake at the opening of the G20 Summit, but then there’s also a video of Trump, Macron, and Merkel all engaged in some banter. Not to mention the time when Macron left his designated spot during a group photo to jostle his way to the front so he could stand next to Trump. This is especially strange because Chancellor Merkel herself has stated the climate change will be one of the topics on the agenda.
But it seems that Merkel and Macron have decided to try a different approach to getting Trump on their side when it comes to climate change. After shunning him and making life awkward during the G7 summit, it seems they have decided to instead to try embracing Trump into their circle and flattering him. This isn’t exactly an unrealistic strategy. After all, Trump has shown he is apt to reward those who are kind to him.
Remember what happened when Russian President Putin said nice things about Trump during the election? It resulted in Trump saying reciprocally nice things about Putin, which, of course, sparked the idea in the minds of some delusional liberal pundits that Trump was involved in a Russian conspiracy. But Putin isn’t the only one who has discovered the art of flattering the Donald. After Hillary Clinton’s concession to him and President Obama’s invite to the White House, Trump began saying nice things about both of them as well. So it seems to be a good strategy that, if you want Trump on your side, flattery is the best approach.
Of course, that also comes with the caveat that flattery is like a drug for Trump and will wear off after a while if not applied constantly. Despite his first words about Putin, Trump now has been making more critical remarks about Russia’s role in Ukraine and even their meeting today was fairly cool between the both of them. In Obama and Hillary’s case, Trump has returned to the campaign tactic of mocking them on Twitter and accusing Obama of failing to proportionally respond to the Russian attack on the DNC as well as making unfounded accusations that Obama tapped Trump towers.
In Merkel and Macron’s favor of course is time as Trump can’t officially pull America out of the Paris Climate Agreement until 2020. But at the same time, time can also be their enemy and if they are not friendly enough to Trump constantly, their efforts may quickly wear off and by that time, Trump could be much more in tune with his supporters than them, as well as having the ominous threat of an election hanging over his head.
Ultimately, Trump is in a lions’ den at the G20 summit. Of all the world leaders there, he’s is the only one who hasn’t supported the Paris Climate Agreement and that makes him a target, whether for animosity or flattery. When Trump first made his decision, I was certainly critical of it but now that he made it, I hope he stands by it. Because if Trump capitulates and rolls over on this, he shows our allies and enemies that he is not the strong and firm leader he wants them to believe.
It’s time America had a strong leader on the world stage. Don’t let a few good handshakes and flattery blow it.
Follow Publius Tacitus on Twitter at @PCTacitus