When you see a reporter at last able to use something he’s wanted to use for years
It was probably a dozen years after I heard the expression, “Let us set our course by the stars, and not the lights of passing ships.” A long wait, but apparently my using it caused some conversation.
Steven Erlanger reports in the NY Times:
It had all been going so well.
Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain had just left Washington on Friday evening after a tense but successful first visit with President Trump for a 10-hour flight to Ankara, Turkey, for her next awkward encounter, with the increasingly autocratic Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
By the time she had landed in Turkey, however, Mr. Trump had signed his executive order halting entrance to the United States of all Syrian refugees and of most citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including dual nationals. Mrs. May was beginning to feel the backlash.
After she termed the executive order an American issue, criticism erupted even among her own members of Parliament. She was accused of appeasement by a former British diplomat. Protesters gathered outside Downing Street on Monday night, and more than 1.5 million signatures collected on an internet petition demanding that Mrs. May rescind her invitation for Mr. Trump to visit Queen Elizabeth II.
While Mrs. May is the latest prominent figure to suffer repercussions for her handling of Mr. Trump, the leaders of those other three close allies have also felt the sting of public anger soon after what seemed to be friendly telephone calls or encounters. They then find themselves facing a no-win situation, either openly criticizing the leader of their superpower ally or pulling their punches and risking severe criticism at home.
One Western leader to escape this fate so far is the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who has kept a cool distance from Mr. Trump. In a telephone call on Saturday, she reminded him of Washington’s obligations under the Geneva Conventions to accept refugees fleeing war, a view underlined by her official spokesman.
The danger of playing nice with Mr. Trump should come as little surprise to his country’s allies. Besides campaigning on an “America First” platform, he has regularly argued that allies have been taking the United States for a ride, in trade, security and financial terms.
While he has been cordial in public settings with the leaders of those allied nations, Mr. Trump has turned on them soon afterward.
“The problem for May is that Trump doesn’t value relationships. He values strength and winning,” said Jeremy Shapiro, the director of research at the European Council on Foreign Relations and a former senior State Department official. “If you rush to the White House to offer a weak hand of friendship, you guarantee exploitation.”
While Mr. Trump’s executive order was clearly not aimed at Britain, he signed it on Friday, just a few hours after Mrs. May left. “You can show up at his doorstep and hold his hand so he doesn’t fall down a ramp, but that doesn’t mean a few hours later when he’s signing an order he thinks at all about how it affects you, your politics or your citizens,” Mr. Shapiro said.
Particularly problematic for Mrs. May was . . .
I’ve put in boldface the term I’m sure he was delighted to use. If he were recounting this, his voice would change on that phrase.
I would say that perhaps even Trump can grasp that following set procedure has certain benefits that shooting from the hip lacks.