Opinion: Trump-Putin summit was a troubling media circus | Opinion | DW | 16.07.2018
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Opinion

Opinion: Trump-Putin summit was a troubling media circus

US President Donald Trump clearly showed weakness in his high-profile meeting with Russia's Vladimir Putin. It was a diplomatic mistake made on the world stage, writes DW's Bernd Riegert.

Donald Trump is a good president — for Russia. Not for the United States and not for the rest of the world.

Russia's Foreign Ministry liked one of Trump's tweets (and thus avoided putting their seal directly on the statement) in which he blamed US "foolishness and stupidity" for the poor relations between his country and Russia. Is the US to blame for Russian hacking during the 2016 presidential elections, or for Putin choosing to annex Crimea? The idea is laughable, and also unprecedented in recent US history. But Trump repeated this line of thinking once again during his summit with the Russian president in Helsinki on Monday, and disqualified himself in the process.

A US president has never behaved this way before, nor should one. The question is: How long will the Republicans continue to back this inept, overrated headache in the White House? Trump routinely utters contradicting half-truths. A selection just from the last few days includes the love-hate US relationship with NATO, arguing the UK should sue the European Union over Brexit, conflicting statements over his relationship with Prime Minister Theresa May, and calling Germany a prisoner to Putin but then later calling the Russian leader a fair competitor.

How much more Trump must we endure?

Bernd Riegert

Bernd Riegert is DW's correspondent in Brussels

The reality TV star-turned president's recent statements have been difficult to listen to. In comparison to Putin, Trump appeared weak, unsure and unprepared for Monday's summit. Whenever Trump rips up standard diplomatic practice, his aides have to pick up the confusing, contradicting pieces and turn them into understandable policy. How much longer will they want to keep doing that?

Putin appeared to have a sheepish grin during his meeting with Trump. All he had to do was sit by and listen to the US president dismantle the global order. In just the past few weeks, Trump has alienated his NATO allies, slighted the UK and called the EU a "foe." Putin couldn't have wished for anything better. The accusations of Russian meddling in US affairs continue without consequences. Did Putin attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election? Did he want to put Trump in office? Does he possess compromising material on the president and his family? If you put it all together, you could understandably assume that is the case, because there must be something that causes Trump to behave how he does around the Russian autocrat.

Read more: Germany's Maas says Europe can no longer rely on the United States

That is probably why the US president wanted to sit down with his Russian counterpart in Helsinki. The unprofessional egomaniac meets the former intelligence agent. The only thing that unites these two men is that they do not particularly care about the truth. Putin has made it clear that he is not concerned about trust, but rather furthering his own interests. Obviously it is good when two such powerful men talk with one another. But this media show that Trump obviously wants is not enough. The world expects more, something Trump has even recognized in one of his few light moments. The expectations were not met. Unfortunately for US citizens, they have a dangerous, unpredictable oddball as their president. Hopefully he doesn't do more damage than he already has.

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