Donald Trump is scheduled to arrive in the U.K. tomorrow for what a BBC diplomatic correspondent described as “the most controversial visit ever made by an American president to Britain.”A significant anti-Trump demonstration is planned for Friday in London, complete with a giant “Trump Baby” balloon flying above the Palace of Westminster, which was approved by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, whom the American president has attacked many times.
The Washington Post, meanwhile, reported that Trump’s hosts have arranged to keep the American leader “a discreet distance” from his angriest British critics.
The U.K., of course, is one of our closest international allies – the “special relationship” sill matters – and the fact that an American president is so spectacularly unpopular there is itself extraordinary. Complicating matters, however, is the effects Trump may have on foreign impressions of Americans in general. CNBC reported this morning:
Ahead of President Donald Trump’s high-profile visit to the U.K., the American government’s representatives in the country are warning U.S. citizens to lay low during what is planned to be three days of large-scale protests.
Several demonstrations are scheduled across the U.K. from July 12 to 14 to voice widespread opposition to Trump and his policies. They’re expected to be attended by thousands and will mandate a large police presence and several road closures. Though mostly concentrated in central London, some protests will take place in the Scottish cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, among others.
The U.S. embassy in London listed on its website a number of actions to take this week, including keeping “a low profile.”
Americans in Israel received a similar alert after Trump announced plans to move the U.S. embassy in the country to Jerusalem, but that was easier to understand, since the threat of possible unrest was tied directly to a controversial policy.
This week in London, Americans have been asked to maintain “a low profile” simply because Trump will be in the U.K.
Younger readers may not remember this, but as the war in Iraq started to spin out of control in 2004, there were anecdotal reports about Americans traveling abroad with Canadian flags sewn onto their belongings, hoping to avoid confrontations with critics of U.S. policies and leaders. George W. Bush was internationally unpopular, and his presidency undermined our reputation across much of the globe.
It’s probably fair to say conditions are quite a bit worse now.