Trump's State of The Union – The View From Abroad

Trump's State of The Union – The View From Abroad

President Trump's speech before a joint session of Congress last night was dominated by domestic issues, and he was careful to strike a conciliatory tone.

But foreign policy also made a few appearances – some subtle and others less so. Here's how we like to imagine leaders from the world's geopolitical hot spots received the president's speech.


Xi Jinping: (reading over the notes in his little red book)

Curious speech. You say you want to establish "a new standard of living for the 21st century" – but we're almost a fifth of the way through it. Talk about short-term thinking. And rebuilding "crumbling infrastructure?" I just approved$125 billion in new railway projects – top that.

Note to self: One of the few moments both Republicans and Democrats stood and applauded together on foreign policy was when Trump talked about getting tough on China. That doesn't bode well for relations with the US, no matter what Trump says about having "great respect" for me personally.

Vladimir Putin: Wednesday Things to Do:

  1. Congratulate Donald on his big speech.
  2. Remind Donald that whatever he does with Maduro, Venezuela still owes Russia a lot of money, and we want our $17 billion back.
  3. Donald says he will "outspend and out-innovate" us with his nuclear arsenal. Check with the Treasury whether we have enough cash to keep up.
  4. Remember to thank Donald for not mentioning Ukraine with its elections next month.
  5. Call MBS.

Nicolas Maduro: (Muttering under his breath)

I saw your speech, viejo. Eighty-two minutes? That's it? Are you tired, old man? Fidel once held the Naciones Unidas rapt for four-and-a-half hours. Our beloved Hugo Chavez spoke for eight hours on live television without a glass of water. This is a man's endurance, and I will outlast you, too. Talk all you want about the evils of socialism, Trump. Your puppet, Guaido, will never convince the army to abandon me. I will be dancing in the streets of Caracas when you are in jail.

The Taliban: Ok, let's get this straight. Trump wants to get America's 14,000 troops out of Afghanistan, because "great nations do not fight endless wars." Americans broadly support him – with 57 percent favoring a withdrawal within the next 5 years. Russia is backing a peace process that excludes the government in Kabul. And we currently control a majority of Afghanistan's territory. After two decades of war, are we interested in a "political settlement?" You bet we are.

Mohammed bin Salman: (On the phone)

"Haha… I know, I know, I really got off lucky Vladimir… he didn't even mention me… Didn't even! It's like, Jamal who? Yemen what? Anyway, you coming to my next comedy show? I think Jared will be there."

Kim Jong-Un: (Dips quill into inkwell)

"Dear Donald, now that you have announced publicly the date and time of our next meeting, I am aflame with anticipation to see you again. Merely to be with you will draw open the earliest blossoms of spring in my wintry soul. Yours, Kimmy."

(Folds letter into envelope, shouts to aide)

"Send this to the White House along with the others, and bring me the latest nuclear program updates. What? Pompeo is calling? Tell him I'm busy rearranging my paper clip collection and he'll have to wait."

"I knew that history was my life's calling."

On Bank of America's That Made All the Difference podcast, Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie Bunch shares his journey and present-day work creating exhibits that inspire visitors to help our country live up to its ideals.

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

What is going on in Bosnia with Bosnian Serbs boycotting all major institutions?

Well, it's a reaction against a decision that was taken by the outgoing high representative during his very last days, after 12 years of having done very little in this respect, to have a law banning any denial of Srebrenica and other genocides. But this issue goes to very many other aspects of the Bosnian situation. So, it has created a political crisis that will be somewhat difficult to resolve.

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It's easy to judge the Pompeiians for building a city on the foothills of a volcano, but are we really any smarter today? If you live along the San Andreas fault in San Francisco or Los Angeles, geologists are pretty confident you're going to experience a magnitude 8 (or larger) earthquake in the next 25 years—that's about the same size as the 1906 San Francisco quake that killed an estimated 3,000 people and destroyed nearly 30,000 buildings. Or if you're one of the 9.6 million residents of Jakarta, Indonesia, you might have noticed that parts of the ground are sinking by as much as ten inches a year, with about 40 percent of the city now below sea level.

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Viktor Orbán, Hungary's far-right populist prime minister, likes to shock people. It's part of his political appeal. Orbán has proudly proclaimed that he is an "illiberal" leader" creating a frenzy in Brussels because Hungary is a member of the European Union.

It's been over a decade since the 58-year old whom some have dubbed "the Trump before Trump" became prime minister. In that time he has, critics say, hollowed out Hungary's governing institutions and eroded the state's democratic characteristics.

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Why do (most) world leaders drink together? It can get them to agree on stuff they wouldn't while sober. Booze "helps people get cooperation off the ground, especially in situations where cooperation is challenging," says University of British Colombia professor Edward Slingerland. Alcohol, he explains, allows you to "see commonalities rather than just pursuing your own interest," which may put teetotaler politicians — like Donald Trump — at a disadvantage. Watch his interview on the next episode of GZERO World. Check local listings to watch on US public television.

In countries with access to COVID vaccines, the main challenge now is to convince those hesitant about the jab to roll up their sleeves, and this has become even more urgent given the spread of the more contagious delta variant. So, where are there more vaccine skeptics, and how do they compare to total COVID deaths per million in each nation? We take a look at a group of large economies where jabs are available, yet (in some cases) not everyone wants one.

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

QR codes are everywhere. Are they also tracking my personal data?

Well, a QR code is like a complex barcode that may be on a printed ad or product package for you to scan and access more information. For example, to look at a menu without health risk or for two-factor verification of a bank payment. And now also as an integral part of covid and vaccine registration. QR codes can lead to tracking metadata or personal data. And when your phone scans and takes you to a website, certainly the tracking starts there. Now, one big trap is that people may not distinguish one kind of use of QR codes from another and that they cannot be aware of the risks of sharing their data.

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Now that the Tokyo Olympics are finally underway, your Signal crew will be bringing you some intriguing, uplifting, and quirky bits of color from a Games like no other…

Today we've got— the best freakout celebrations!

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