During his victorious presidential campaign many critics made an issue of his inexperience in government and particularly in diplomacy. The beginning of #Donald Trump’s Administration has shown that these doubts were not imagined and two cases have highlighted the problems that can face a world leader on the international stage.
The Old Ally
When British Prime Minister Theresa May visited the White House #Donald Trump had the opportunity to forge the first real personal relationship with an important ally of the United States.
As proof of this relationship the Conservative Prime Minister invited the businessman come politician to a State visit to #great britain.
Naturally the invitation was accepted with great pleasure by the President, but the reaction in England was not what he or Theresa May expected.
Within hours people began a petition against the visit which would eventually reach over 1.6 million signatures. The public protest was against the public perceptions of Trump’s racism and attitude to women
To make matters worse, John Bercow, the Speaker of the #house of commons, then announced that he would not allow to President of the United States to speak to a joint sitting of Parliament. As quoted by the newspaper the Independent the Speaker explained his decision by saying "However, as far as this place [the Commons] is concerned, I feel very strongly that our opposition to racism and to sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons.".
This decision was greeted by loud applause from many Members of Parliament and one parliamentarian replied to the Speaker’s speech with a simple “Well done!”
This afternoon the petition against the visit will be debated in the House of Commons as required by law for such a petition. The Guardian reports that one outcome of the debate may be the withdrawal of the invitation to the President.
This decision may well be the cause of new controversy for the White House at the beginning of the new week.
On a more humorous note, an off the cuff comment by President Trump Saturday at Florida during his campaign rally drew satirical replies from #Sweden. In explaining the need for an immigration ban, as widely reported by the Press the 45th President referred to the “look at what's happening last night in Sweden”.
Needless to say, no terrorist incident had occurred the night before in Sweden.
In proof of the speed of international communication the reaction in the Scandinavian country was amused with an immediate wave of tweets under the hashtag “#last night in Sweden”. The most memorable reply was from former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt who tweeted “What has he been smoking?”
As the Swedish population enjoyed itself taking the mickey out of the American President, the White House went into damage control. To add fuel to the fire Sweden’s Ambassador to the United States asked the White House for an explanation of the comment.
On Sunday the President explained in a tweet that he had been referring to a report he had seen on Fox News. This explanation will almost certainly raise more questions than it answered.
Foreign policy and diplomacy are mine fields and these two incidents show quite clearly that it takes little to cause controversy between two countries. In the case of Sweden, in terms of international prestige, the delighted reaction of the Swedes in deriding the American president only adds to Donald Trump’s image problem around the world.
With his comment on Saturday Donald Trump has only added an item to this week’s “to do” list and, sadly for him London may also contribute to his busy agenda if the debate in the House of Commons today goes against him.