Friday, November 3, 2017


President Trump has left for his grand Asia tour. He leaves behind a trail of lies, gaffes and overall underachievement. He walks into a terrain which is booby- trapped from start to finish. Too intellectually and culturally lazy to familiarize himself with the sophisticated Asian ways, he will be the elephant in the porcelain room. After having killed the Trans-Pacific Partnership for no other reason than spite, he gave China what it wants and deprived Southeast Asia of what it needed. His zero-sum resume fits in his usual trademark outbursts. As he said, "I am the only one who counts" shows.

Speaking thereof, this administration is "spooked" by the inquiry into possible Russia collusion and its denials sound more and more hollow. Only Fox News continues to spread alternative scenarios and a narrative that would make Goebbels envious. Trump acts angry while the crime syndicate which surrounds and protects him is decimated day after day. The ship of fools is running empty. He might listen to his master's voice when summoned by Putin. After all, there is the "dossier" hanging over his head. 

The Asia trip is important. North Korea is a challenge that requires quite a bit of savoir faire. The Chinese might try to teach the president a lesson in the form of containment. Nevertheless they will present a Qianlong-like show. It is to be hoped that Trump will not have to return empty-handed like Lord McCartney. The allies, Japan and North Korea, will certainly beg for less noise and more subtle diplomatic and strategic support. Vietnam is as communist as they go but these United States seem to have chosen the good communists over the bad ones (Cuba). The meeting with Duterte is already bread and butter for Saturday Night Live. Most of those countries have, one way or another, disputes with China. The teleprompter will be the only lifeline to separate Trump from major  embarrassment. 

It is said that China is the rising power and that America is a power in decline. Today is appears so, indeed. The China "high" and the US "low" should nevertheless be considered in a more sophisticated spectrum. Both powers have to deal with almost identical problems: an "abroad" that is problematic and an inequality internally which is almost structural. Of course, the fact that China has almost become a legitimate equal of the US, says a lot about its progress. The absence of Europe in this global reshuffle is the result of both the lack of hard- power and the growing irrelevance of its soft-power. By the way, President Xi Jinping is slowly but steadily marginalizing the American dream which, contrary to its demise in Europe, is still alive in Asia, but for how long? Movies, media, revisionist history, policy, all join efforts and imagination to boost the Chinese dream and the return to the Middle Kingdom's might in the "world".

Trump is the worst emissary the West might have in China, or in Lee Kuan Yew's Asia (the ultimate statesman of Singapore's influence is second to none). He appears crude and gross, oblivious of others' sensitivities and impervious to cultural differentials. He will be flattered by the pomp but will remain tone-deaf to the message. Quid novi ?

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