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The Paris accord, and the challenge for America’s allies



Between Ivanka’s champagne popsicles, the Paris climate accord, next week’s Comey testimony, and the NBA finals, I’m positively verklempt. So much news!

To tell you the truth, I’m not as upset by Trump breaking the climate agreement as some of my friends are. It’s not that I’m in favor of coal, but the whole issue of climate change is complicated, and I’ve reached a point in my life where I no longer take strong positions on stuff I don’t fully understand. There’s enough of that going on in the Oval Office! I do think I understand enough about the future of energy to know that coal is a really bad way to generate energy and the world is going to have to move away from it, and other forms of fossil fuel. But, like I said, it’s not something I’ve studied. I do think that the Democratic Party was a little cavalier in not taking seriously the concerns of people in states like West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Ohio about coal miners losing their jobs. Trump connected better with them than Hillary did. I think he conned them—coal is a dying industry and there’s nothing Trump or the Republican Party or anybody can do about that. I don’t imagine that canceling the Paris accord is going to save a single coal mining job in America, though, so if I were a coal miner I wouldn’t hold my breath. It’s a very tough situation: what happens to middle-aged workers when progress makes their jobs obsolete? And things are just going to get worse. Self-driving vehicles are going to displace hundreds of thousands of drivers. Robots will displace millions of factory workers. And artificial intelligence might even replace information workers. I have no idea how America, or the world, is going to deal with that massive disruption, but I do believe in science, and in the kind of progressive liberal thinking we see in Silicon Valley, to help us solve the problem. Unfortunately, the current president doesn’t seem to believe in science.

The most horrible thing about him (and there are so many awful traits it’s hard to pick just one) is how thoughtless he seems to be. He told lie after lie after lie in the campaign, thinking he wouldn’t get elected, but when he did get elected, he suddenly realized that all his voters were expecting him to deliver on his promises. Ending “the war on coal” was one of them. That was something he could do through executive order, rather than through Congress, where he appears completely inert. So this trashing of the Paris accord is red meat to a few of his voters.

Germany, France and Italy are upset by what he did to Paris. Of course, they were already fed up with Trump anyway, so this just adds to their disillusionment. I was thinking yesterday, when this news came out, that it would be helpful if those three countries did something to signal their extreme displeasure with this Trump regime. They probably won’t break diplomatic relations, but sooner or later Merkel, Macron and Gentiloni (prime minister of Italy), and probably others such as Trudeau in Canada, Peña Nieto in Mexico, Modi of India, Xi of China and Abbot in Australia are going to have to figure out the right symbolism for repudiating Trump. You can feel them struggling with this. You know they think he’s a dangerous fool, but how to telegraph that to the world is a challenge. It’s important that they do, because Trump is such a liar he will say that his relationships with them are “really great” even though they’re not, and his surrogates will repeat that fantasy, and his credulous followers will believe it. I can’t imagine that Angela Merkel likes it when Sean Spicer says she and Trump have a “fairly unbelievable” relationship.

What exactly these leaders can do to correct this lie and others like it is beyond my capacity to determine, but it is necessary that they do so, clearly, and that they speak with one voice. The bizarre thing is that, even if they did something extreme, Trump’s right wing supporters would celebrate it, since they don’t like foreigners anyway. Fox “News” would tout America’s “liberation” from the wicked, corrupt Old World, the triumph of his MAGA policy. It would just another episode of Trump! the Reality Show.

  1. Bob Rossi says:

    ” He told lie after lie after lie in the campaign, thinking he wouldn’t get elected, but when he did get elected, he suddenly realized that all his voters were expecting him to deliver on his promises.”
    Very true. And things like the travel ban have worked out perfectly for Trump. He probably realizes that such a ban would have no effect on the so-called war on terror, but he had promised to do so. Then the courts struck it down, so he can say to his supporters: “Well, I tried, but those liberal judges wouldn’t let me.”

  2. Bob Rossi, the odd thing is, his supporters don’t care if he caves on every single campaign promise he made. They’re so crazy, they’ll stand by him even if he came out in favor of the Democratic 2016 platform. I’ve never seen a group more willful, stubborn and ignorant than Trump Republicans. They are establishing a new standard for stupidity!

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