Foreign Leaders Have a Big Decision to Make

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What’s the best way for a foreign leader to handle Donald Trump? The last few days have shown us the two approaches that are likely to become most common. The question every leader has to ask is: Should you be a man1 or should you be a mouse?

The Mouse Approach: Japanese prime minister Shinz? Abe gave a master class in this technique over the weekend. Trump tried to humiliate him with a monster handshake, and Abe let him. He fawned over Trump’s superior golf game. As near as we can tell, he was willing to abase himself endlessly in service of his larger goal: getting Trump to become Japan’s BFF. You could practically see the gears turning in Abe’s head as he went through with this.2

The Man Approach: This morning, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau took the opposite tack. As Trump closed in for the alpha-dog hand-on-the-shoulder handshake, Trudeau beat him to it. And when Trump suggested another handshake for the cameras, Reuters captured this soon-to-be-classic photo:

Which will work better? Suckering Trump into thinking he’s got your number? Or trying to earn Trump’s respect by showing you won’t be intimidated? Decisions, decisions.

1Or a woman.

2Oh to be a fly on the wall when the Japanese team was alone. I can only imagine what they really think of Trump.

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FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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