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7/12/17

USA: End of the US empire - by Bill Press

It happened to the Greeks, Romans and Brits. We knew it would eventually happen to us. We just didn’t expect it to happen so soon. But we just witnessed the end of the American empire. It died last week at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

What a difference six months makes. Ever since its creation in 1999, the G-20 has brought together the leaders of the 20 most powerful economies on the planet, countries who together represent 85 percent of the gross world product, 80 percent of world trade and two-thirds of the world’s population.

Until this year, every meeting of the G-20, no matter where it was held, was dominated by the United States. We set the agenda; the president of the United States dominated the discussions; we determined the outcome. But no longer.

It’s now the chancellor of Germany, not the president of the United States, who leads the world’s biggest economies. Indeed, this year’s G-20 could be summed up as “the leader of the free world meets the president of the United States.”

In Hamburg, Germany, President Trump was the odd man out. Other world leaders treated him like your crazy uncle with Alzheimer’s who shows up for Thanksgiving dinner. They nervously smiled at and humored him, while keeping their fingers crossed that he wouldn’t break the family china or pee in his pants.

For his part, Trump failed on several fronts. First, by caving in to Vladimir Putin on Russia’s efforts to undermine the 2016 presidential election. Reportedly, their exchange on the issue was brief: “Did you do it, Vlad?” “No, I didn’t, Don.” “OK, let’s move on.” Trump, in other words, accepted the word of Putin over the conclusion of 17 U.S. intelligence agencies.

Trump followed up by suggesting the United States and Russia team up on cybersecurity, a stunningly naive proposal that shocked even fellow Republicans. “Partnering with Putin on a ‘Cyber Security Unit’ is akin to partnering with Assad on a ‘Chemical Weapons Unit,’ ” tweeted Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

But it was on climate change that Trump suffered his greatest humiliation. On June 1, Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris climate change agreement. So what? In Hamburg, G-20 leaders declared the Paris accord “irreversible” and adopted a detailed blueprint on how nations would proceed to meet the agreement’s goals to reduce global warming. The vote was 19-1.

Sadly, it’s not just Trump’s reputation that took a hit at the G-20 summit. It’s the power, prestige and respect that the United States used to enjoy under both Democratic and Republican presidents, but does no longer.

On the world stage, nobody takes us seriously anymore. How could they, as long as Trump is the US  president?

Read more: Press: End of the US empire | TheHill

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