– – – Tearline – – – Jun. 1, 2017

In this week's Tearline: Trump pulls out of the Paris Agreement, intentionally undermines NATO, and the memorable handshake.

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Tearline noun | ‘ter ï lin
The portions of an intelligence report that provide the substance of a more highly classified or controlled report without identifying sensitive sources, methods, or other operational information.

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What was that?!

President Donald Trump just announced the end of U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement on climate change. This is a blow not only to American leadership but also for America’s economy, environment, and U.S. national security. As Trump made the devastating decision to withdraw the United States from the deal to curb global emissions, countries around the world—including the United States—are suffering from the devastating effects of climate change. Severe flooding has displaced almost a half a million people in Sri Lanka as seasonal monsoons have become more severe with changing temperatures. Bangladesh is on the verge of a level 10 maximum threat cyclone, placing millions at risk. Somalia is still suffering from deadly famine. Trump’s decision greatly increases the risk to the future of the only planet we have.

What’s missing?

On Wednesday, a large bomb exploded in Afghanistan’s diplomatic quarter, near the presidential palace, killing more than 80 people and injuring hundreds more. Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, responded with a statement that the “attack demonstrates a complete disregard for civilians and reveals the barbaric nature of the enemy faced by the Afghan people.”

Meanwhile, President Trump is fumbling around the world: Last week, he wrapped up his first trip abroad with a G-7 meeting in Italy, and needless to say, his discussions with our allies did not go well. In fact, after a stop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, embracing autocrats from around the Middle East, Trump seemed to be saving his anger and barbs for America’s closest allies in Europe: He undermined NATO, criticized Germany for selling cars to the United States, and literally pushed aside the prime minister of Montenegro. The crisis in the trans-Atlantic alliance is a disaster of epic proportions. Here’s one example of how an emboldened Russia is now interfering in Italian politics. And with his administration trying to figure out what to do in Afghanistan, Trump would also be wise to remember that NATO is fighting alongside the United States in Afghanistan.   

What’s on deck in the world for next week

Next week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis will travel together to Australia for annual strategic talks. Watch to see if there are any signs of anxiety coming out of Canberra, Australia, especially in the wake of Trump’s disastrous Europe trip. Also look out for Mattis’ first speech to the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, which is an annual gathering of defense chiefs from around Asia and an opportunity for defense secretaries to outline U.S. policy toward Asia.

Better ideas

Instead of intentionally undermining NATO, Trump should be taking concrete steps to strengthen the alliance. For some ideas on how best to do that, read the latest from Center for American Progress colleagues Rudy deLeon and Stefanie Merchant.

Quote of the week

Newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron met Trump last week and sent a strong message to the United States that didn’t require any words—through his handshake. Macron later clarified that his “handshake with him is not innocent, it is not the alpha and omega of a policy, but a moment of truth … We must show that we will not make small concessions, even symbolic ones."

Read of the week

As Trump bends over backwards to cozy up to Russian President Vladimir Putin and spent last week living the high life with Saudi princes, his administration seems no closer to a strategy for addressing the Syrian civil war that Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, and others are using to wage a proxy war. As the horror of that conflict continues, read this in-depth look at Aleppo, Syria.  

Weekly Trump-Russia reminder

Our short weekly reminder just can’t keep up with the flood of news about Trump’s connections to Russia. There’s the secret backchannel that Jared Kushner tried to set up with the Kremlin. And Kushner’s meeting with a top Russian banker with close ties to Putin. Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen is refusing to answer questions from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in its investigation into Russian election meddling. We’ll see what happens when former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn reportedly turns over his documents to the committee.

133 days still violating the Constitution

President Trump has been violating the Constitution’s prohibition against corruption by foreign governments for 133 days, because his companies are receiving payments from foreign governments.

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