During the G-20 that just concluded in Japan, President Trump used that forum to sit down with and meet with almost every leader of the G20 Nations. Trump does not view G-20 meeting or its smaller counterparts as a way for the world to get together to solve problems. He sees them as a way for him to have everyone he needs to meet with and negotiate with come to one place so he merely has to go from room to room to have one on one sessions. The President learned early on that the “G” meetings were merely a forum to have large international meetings, most of which involved milking the US or criticizing the US, then issuing a document that basically said how great it was and that we shall do this again! Trump does not meet for the sake of meeting! Either you accomplish something or you don’t meet.
Just prior to the G-20 meetings, the President was determined to try to jump-start the negotiations with North Korea that have been stalled since February 28th, 2019. He and Kim had corresponded several times since the President walked-out in Hanoi. The President sees this relationship as one that is critical to world peace and stability. Trump used his Twitter-Diplomacy to send an “official” request to Kim to meet at the DMZ, Kim accepted! So much for State Department Protocol!
So, starting with the meeting with Kim in North Korea, let’s look at a couple of other substantial accomplishments that took place over the past few days in Japan, South Korea, and North Korea.
Trump-Kim Meeting in North Korea:
Every literate person by now has seen, heard or read that President Trump met North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un in South Korea then crossed over into North Korea. This is the first time ever that an serving American President has visited North Korea, ever.
There is no doubt that the Secret Service had to replenish their toilet paper supply following this meeting! The DMZ is protected by heavily armed snipers and security on both sides. NK Security on the ground was armed and within feet of our President. Their snipers were trained on our President and the US and South Korean contingency the entire time. If a firecracker had gone off, this scene could have erupted into a firefight of disastrous proportions! As it was, there was a few confrontations with our press and the President’s communications staff. Tensions were high.
To appreciate the gutsiness of this move by the President, remember that Kim may be the leader of this dark nation, but his reign is precarious as many of the old line communist generals and members of his own family would like to seize power. What better way to take down the Kim regime than to assassinate the President of the US on North Korean soil! Given the openness of this meeting, there was literally no way to prevent this from happening! In the end, The President and Chairman Kim met for an hour and agreed to resume disarmament negotiations. A big prize for merely having the guts to walk across a 16″ wide curb that separates South and North Korea! Will disarmament come about? Who knows. There are a lot of variables at play and Kim is not totally secure in his role as Chairman.
But, it proves that Trump understands that whether you are negotiating for a high rise in NYC or negotiating to disarm a nuclear nation, TRUST has to be built before any deal will be reached. I have written in the past that Trump’s short term goal is to convince Chairman Kim that he can trust President Trump and that the US will live up to any security agreement that is made to ensure Kim’s long term survival! Kim is the third generation that has stood against the US. He and his ancestors have convinced the North Korean people that the US is an existential threat to their survival. Now, Trump has to convince Kim that this is not true, then Kim has to convince his inner circles, his military and his people that a good relationship with the US would be good for North Korea. Remember, Kim was educated in Switzerland and knows how the other half lives. North Korean GDP is only $18 Billion a year. Amazon’s annual sales in 2018 was $233 Billion and its EBITA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization was $25.5B, $7.5 billion higher that the total GDP of North Korea!
The G-20 Itself
President Trump very simply laid out for the American People a very difficult situation that has arisen between the US, Turkey and Russia. Remember that Turkey is a member of NATO, an organization that was founded to guard against advances by the old Soviet Union, and now Russia. Turkey was an ally of the US against ISIS and agreed not to attack the Kurds in Iraq following the defeat of ISIS. The Kurds and Turkey have been long-time enemies and much of the original Kurdistan was absorbed into Turkey to the chagrin of the Kurds. In short, Turkey considers the Kurds terrorists and the Kurds consider Turkey confiscatory scum!
The President succinctly laid out that during the Obama administration, Turkey’s President Erdogan asked that he be allowed to purchase the US Patriot missile Defence system. Turkey wanted this defensive system to protect itself from any incoming missile attack. But, President Obama refused the sale as he did not want to alienate President Putin of Russia. In fact, President Obama stopped Patriot system installations in Poland and other nations as well. Erdogan also wanted to purchase 100 of the new stealth F-35 fighter planes to upgrade his air defenses and to meet his NATO commitment to spend 2% of their GDP on defense.
During the F-35 negotiations, Erdogan went to Russia to see if he could purchase the Russian counterpart to our Patriot system, the Russian S-400. Erdogan and the Russians made the deal and Turkey paid Russia for the S-400 system. Why not? The US had refused to sell its system to Turkey! The Obama administration was furious and eventually offered to give Turkey the Patriot System. It was too late, Turkey had already paid for the S-400 system and Russia was in the process of manufacturing it and installing it.
So, fast forward to present day and President Trump at the G-20. President Trump is livid that the US first denied the sale of the Patriot System to Turkey; then sold 100 F-35s to Turkey; then said Turkey could not have the F-35s, since Turkey bought the Russian S-400 Missile Defense Systems, AFTER THE US REFUSED TO SELL THE PATRIOT SYSTEM TO THEM! Aren’t you glad that Obama was so smart and not in the back pocket of President Putin!
Why is this a problem? The F-35 is the latest US stealth aircraft that obviously incorporates highly sensitive electronics and advances weapons systems, including anti-missile defense capabilities from systems such as the Russian S-400! Wouldn’t the Russians love to get their hands on the F-35 technology during the installation of the S-400 system so they can program F-35 interception capabilities into not only the S-400 system, but in all offensive and defensive systems they deploy!
The US had officially suspended any further shipments of the F-35s to Turkey. To date, only two planes have been delivered to the Turks but they remain in the US at training facilities. Pentagon spokesman Charles E. Summers Jr. recently stated:
“The United States has been clear that Turkey’s acquisition of the S-400 is unacceptable.” Our important dialogue on this matter will continue, however, until they forgo delivery of the S-400, the United States has suspended deliveries and activities associated with the stand-up of Turkey’s F-35 operational capability,”
Presidents Trump and Erdogan met at the G-20 at length to discuss and try to resolve this situation that should never have been allowed to transpire in the first place. The lack of commitment to NATO, and the sucking up to Russia by the Obama Administration created this fiasco. As of this writing, it is unclear how Trump will resolve this, If I were a betting man, I would bet that Trump will try to offset any loses by Turkey as a result of their purchase of the S-400 systems. Russia will scream bloody murder but in the end we, the tax payers, will have to pay for Obama’s incompetence. It is not acceptable to have our F-35 technologies exposed to Russia and to Russian defense technology.
The North Korean Meeting between Trump and Kim all but overshadowed the meeting between President Trump and President Xi of China. This meeting was critical to restart talks between the two nations regarding tariffs and trade relations. The Chinese economy is in decline and further US sanctions could further exacerbate this decline. In order to mitigate the US tariffs so far, China has had to devalue their currency and give their industries who have been the target of the tariffs deep subsidies so they could continue to produce their products. In the US, inflation has been at historical lows indicating that China is absorbing most of the cost of the US tariffs.
The biggest takeaway from the Trump/Xi meeting was that trade talks would resume. Trump agreed not to increase tariffs or impose new tariffs on about $300 billion dollars in US imports from China. The US also is allowing our tech companies to sell component parts to the Chinese tech giant Huawei. TRUMP DID NOT LIFT THE EMBARGO AGAINST HUAWEI, as some are reporting. Huawei cannot sell its products in the US and the administration is continuing to pressure our allies to follow suit.
President Trump reiterated that he is in now hurry to get a deal with China realizing that China is hoping that Trump will lose his bid for re-election and that China will have an easier path with an incoming Democrat! So, a comprehensive trade deal with China may not happen until after Trump’s re-election. If China thinks Trump is tough now, just wait until he is re-elected! This is not a good bet for China to make.
Trump also met with many other leaders including those from France, Germany, Great Britain, Brazil, India, Mexico, Japan, South Korea, and Russia.
His meetings with France and Germany were to discuss further trade talks between the EU and the US, Brexit, the Trump Middle-East Peace Plan, and Iran. Trump will tackle the EU trade talks following the passage of USMCA and possibly the conclusion of trade agreement with Japan. They also discussed the ongoing devaluation of the EU currency that is forcing the dollar higher making it more difficult to sell into the EU. Iran was particularly critical given the Iranian aggression and the potential for oil supplies being cut off to EU countries from the Gulf. President Trump also sought to stop these countries from interfering or circumventing with his sanctions against Iran. Iran is at a tipping point and any propping up by the EU now would only prolong any meaningful dialog with Iran relative to their nuclear weapon program.
Trump’s meeting with Teresa May of Great Britain was a continued reassurance that the US is ready and willing to offset any trade loses that Britain may suffer when exiting the EU, either hard or soft. The Iranian and Middle-East Peace Plan were also front and center. May is basically a Lame Duck Prime Minister as recent elections have set up the formation of a new government.
The other main event featured a meeting between President Trump and President Putin of Russia.
While both sides have been relatively quiet about the meetings, included in their discussions were the situations in Iran, Syria, Venezuela, and Ukraine. Putin has indicated that he is withdrawing his support for Maduro in Venezuela and is cooling to any real future involvement with Iran in Syria. The Ukraine/Crimea situation is sticky and any real solution to the Ukraine/Crimea crisis will not happen soon. Once Obama allowed Russia to invade Ukraine and Crimea and annex portions of these lands, only military intervention by the US would probably change the status on the ground. Trump does not see this as his highest priority, nor as a winnable, problem. Trump did agree to visit Russia on the 75th anniversary of V-Day to celebrate the defeat of Nazism with our then ally, Russia.
I will cover some of the other meetings as results from those meetings unfold and current events add to their story. Let it suffice to say that President Trump is dominating the world stage and drawing lines in the sands of many topics with other world leaders. Our media’s and the left’s constant domestic attacks on him do not help but he is undeterred in his seeking of world peace, and rebalancing US trade to be reciprocal and free.