- The Washington Times - Monday, June 11, 2018

President Trump’s performance at the Group of Seven summit in Canada, including a late arrival, an early exit, a spat with the host and a rejection of the final communique, played to some largely negative reviews in Canada and Europe Monday.

His blunt talk and unapologetic “American first” agenda on trade may provide a boost for Mr. Trump with his U.S. political base, but it elicited unusually sharp comment from foreign news organizations and pundits.

It comes as no surprise that Canadian outlets were among the harshest critics, following Mr. Trump’s very public clash of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after the Canadian leader insisted after Mr. Trump departed that his country “would not be pushed around” on trade issues. CP24, a Toronto-based TV News organization, said Mr. Trump had acted the bully while praising Mr. Trudeau for “remaining above the fray.”

The Toronto Star in an editorial called Mr. Trump’s performance “dishonest and amateurish.”

“He sulked his way through the first part of the meeting, gave his delegation the OK to sign the summit’s pallid final communique, then threw a hissy fit and tore it up as soon as he was back on Air Force One,” the paper said.

Mr. Trump often found himself isolated at the G-7 gathering, for the tariffs he recently applied on Canadian, Japanese and European steel and aluminum and for rejecting the Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal. Hopes that the leaders could close the gap or at least paper over the differences evaporated quickly.

The German news site Der Spiegel said Monday that “the U.S. is treating its allies worse than its enemies,” calling Mr. Trump an “egomaniac” who, “because he thinks he is the greatest, … is immune to rational arguments.”

Le Parisien, one of France’s highest circulation newspapers, wrote that “the French woke up with the surprise of the American president backtracking, despite all the efforts made by [French President] Emmanuel Macron the day before to make [Mr. Trump] sign the final communique.”

Some said Mr. Trump was simply carrying through on promises to reorient American foreign policy, but that the G-7 summit provided little clarity on where Mr. Trump wants to take the alliance of the West’s most powerful democracies.

“It is now clear that the goal of the American president is to change the world order. That’s what he was elected to do,” wrote the Italian newspaper La Stampa. “The question what he wants to replace it with, and if the new model can really offer everyone more opportunities than the current one he intends to demolish.”

EU leaders offered muted — but occasionally pointed — evaluations of the summit’s outcome. British Prime Minister Theresa May made no direct comments attacking the U.S. president, but emphasized that London will honor the commitments it made to Canada and the rest of its allies.

The Japan Times said the G-7 summit provided a glimpse into both the working style and priorities of the U.S. president, who has cultivated a friendship with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe while taking a harsh line of Tokyo’s trade policies.

“If [President Trump‘s] objective is to make himself the center of attention at every international event, he is succeeding,” the paper wrote. “If he aims to undermine the legitimacy of international institutions, he is making progress. If, however, he seeks to make America great again, his actions are working at cross-purposes to his goal.”

While Russia and China were not included in the summit, their news outlets were quick to highlight the tensions evident at the summit.

Chinese state-owned media outlets highlighted the contrast between the acrimonious G-7 gathering and the far more placid gathering of leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Qingdao, which included Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Against the backdrop of rising unilateralism and anti-globalization, the SCO’s opposition to trade protectionism in any form is especially encouraging,” the state-run newspaper China Daily said in an English-language editorial Monday.

The state-controlled Global Times reported that China’s vast and intense online community was obsessed with the already-famous photo of the G-7 leaders, apparently showing Mr. Trump tensely squaring off with his fellow leaders.

“The photo triggered interest among Chinese netizens,” Liu Weidong, a research fellow at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the online news publication. “The photo presents an unequal and antagonistic G7 group. It’s complicated.”

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