9 November 2016

There is sometimes a silver lining to the darkest of clouds, and a case in point in connection with Donald Trump’s election victory might well be the injection of a virus into that sometimes useful but now out-of-control mode of diplomacy, summitry. Unless deluded or required to do so by fear, what decent leader would want to spend any time in his company? In particular, female world leaders, of which 22 were listed here last year, would be bound to shudder at the prospect. Certainly, they could not risk an encounter with Mr Trump of the kind employed in the early 1960s by British prime minister Harold Macmillan and French president Charles de Gaulle – a ‘walk in the woods’. Politely avoiding summitry with the United States, they might realise that they can cut back on it in other relationships as well; in fact, that would be useful for their relations with Washington, because they could say: ‘It’s not just you we’re avoiding, Mr Trump.’ And the idea might catch on elsewhere! Thank you, Donald. Thank you, thank you.

Postscript, 25 July 2017. The wives of male heads of state might have a role in this as well, following the marvellous example of Akie Abe at the G20 final dinner in early July.