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eyes on the U.S.

Trump’s Aggressive Handshake Diplomacy

Trump's grip
Trump's grip
Roy Greenburgh

The refrain has continued ever since Donald Trump stunned the world with his election victory: "But what will he actually do?" As the two-plus month interregnum winds down, ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration, some (but not all) of the answers have begun to emerge. The first clear message is that he will nominate whomever he damn pleases to work in his cabinet and the White House, which now includes his son-in-law Jared Kushner, challenging longstanding U.S. government nepotism regulations.

Meanwhile, even as major questions remain about the fate of his own personal business holdings and the conflicts of interest they raise, Trump has made clear that he plans to very much follow through on his vows to run the country like a business. Kanye West and his Trump Tower lobby "bro handshake" aside, the president-elect has been holding serious meetings, sending bullying tweets and, yes, shaking hands as only an alpha-male celebrity businessmen knows how.

For corporate leaders from Silicon Valley to Detroit, Trump's message is clear: "Everyone has their price. Everything is negotiable. I'm ready to play hard ball: Let's make a deal."

This week we have also seen some top global business leaders arrive at Trump Tower, including Jack Ma, the founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba who vowed to "create one million jobs." The French press was particularly focused this morning on the arrival at Trump Tower of Bernard Arnault, the debonair French billionaire CEO of luxury brand multinational LVMH, who also promised to invest in creating jobs in the United States. And smiled. And shook Trump's hand.

For the meeting, Arnault brought along his 24-year-old son, Alexandre, who has the same well-scrubbed look of Trump's own sons, and even more so, his extra-super scrubbed son-in-law Kushner. Trump, probably sensing an air of vulnerability in the young French heir, did what he would do.

There in front of all the cameras, he teaches him how real men, real businessmen, shake hands. It is very different from how presidents usually shake hands. Probably different from any handshake young Monsieur Arnault has ever shared, back in Paris. The scene is not pretty to watch, but its message is clear: When it comes to making deals now, for better or for worse, Trump is in charge.

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The West Has An Answer To China's New Silk Road — With A Lift From The Gulf

The U.S. and Europe are seeking to rival China by launching a huge joint project. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States will also play a key role – because the battle for world domination is not being fought on China’s doorstep, but in the Middle East.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Indian Prime Minister Narendra and U.S. President Joe Biden shaking hands during PGII & India-Middle East-Europe Economics Corridor event at the G20 Summit on Sept. 9 in New Delhi

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Indian Prime Minister Narendra and U.S. President Joe Biden during PGII & India-Middle East-Europe Economics Corridor event at the G20 Summit on Sept. 9 in New Delhi

Daniel-Dylan Böhmer


BERLIN — When world leaders are so keen to emphasize the importance of a project, we may well be skeptical. “This is a big deal, a really big deal,” declared U.S. President Joe Biden earlier this month.

The "big deal" he's talking about is a new trade and infrastructure corridor planned to be built between India, the Middle East and Europe.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the project as a “beacon of cooperation, innovation and shared progress,” while President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen called it a “green and digital bridge across continents and civilizations."

The corridor will consist of improved railway networks, shipping ports and submarine cables. It is not only India, the U.S. and Europe that are investing in it – they are also working together on the project with Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi Arabia is planning to provide $20 billion in funding for the corridor, but aside from that, the sums involved are as yet unclear. The details will be hashed out over the next two months. But if the West and its allies truly want to compete with China's so-called New Silk Road, they will need a lot of money.

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