We can only hope that someone at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida took a photo of the cake that could go down in history as one of the most unusual political comments of all time. Not since Marie Antoinette allegedly made her comment about “cake” during the period before the French Revolution has a piece of pastry played a part in important events.
The matters on the agenda at the Mar-a-Lago resort included trade issues and naturally the means to limit North Korea’s development of a nuclear arsenal that worry not only America’s Asian allies but also Beijing itself.
As often happens in international affairs other issues then raised their head and the Chinese President found himself dealing with an American President distracted by the crisis between the United States and Russia over Syria. A few days before the Bashar Al-Assad regime attacked the rebel held town of Khan Sheikhoum with gas weapons and the images of dead civilians, and particularly children, made the rounds of the world.
As a result, and reportedly also after the distressed reaction of daughter Ivanka’s to the images, President #Donald Trump instructed the National Security Council (NSC) to prepare recommendations for an American reply to the attack..
In the meantime pressure between the United Nations and Russia increased with the Russian veto a motion to the United Nations Security Council sponsored by the United States, Great Britain and France condemning the actions of the Kremlin’s ally.
These actions were the background to the revelation that President Donald Trump made in an interview on FOX Business when he described how he advised President Xi of the attack.
In his own words, as reported by Huffington Post, the President said, “I was sitting at the table. We had just finished dinner. We’re now having dessert. And the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen. And President Xi was enjoying it.”
President Trump was then told that the missiles were ready to launch and then on their way. The President then explained in the interview, “..., the missiles were on their way and I said ‘Mr. President, let me explain something to you...
We’ve just launched 59 missiles heading to Iraq (sic) and I want you to know this.’ And then he was eating his cake and he was silent.”
In answer to the question of President Xi’s reaction President Trump replied “So he paused and then he asked the interpreter to please say it again. I did not think that was a good sign...He was OK with it. He was OK.”
We now know that the official Chinese reaction to the American attack on Syria came on President Xi’s return to Beijing and it was not as OK as President Trump stated.
The simple fact that the attack was carried out so quickly after the recommendations of the NSC already indicates a willingness for precipitous action in a delicate international situation should serve as a warning sign of the lack of foreign policy agenda by the Oval Office but to consider and carry out the attack during a State visit by a rival of Russia and to tell its President of the attack in such an offhanded way is not the sign of presidential behaviour.
Furthermore, the President’s obvious enjoyment at explaining how he advised the Chinese President of the attack hides two important aspects of his behaviour. It displays a lack of respect towards the Chinese President who should have been formally advised of the attack and this incident once again shows that the President does not personally follow the actions he has ordered as he also did during the attack in Yemen in the first week of the presidency when an American soldier was killed.
While President Trump promised a new form of diplomacy during his successful residential campaign few imagined that the promise would be kept in this way.
Diplomacy is not simply speaking in polite terms to opponents, it is also protecting the image and reputation of the country on the world stage and the incident at Mar-a-Lago with President Xi Jinping was certainly not that.
As with his tweets, we must now wonder whether or not the photo of the #Chocolate Cake will be placed in the national archives because it certainly played an unwelcome role in a serious international situation. #mar a lago