Friedman and Bruni

In “Trump’s United American Emirate” The Moustache of Wisdom tells us that America now has a monarchy in the White House, headed by an emir named Donald.  Mr. Bruni, in “How We Really Die,” says countries rich and poor confront the same diseases, which Michael Bloomberg is upping the fight against.  Here’s TMOW, writing from Seoul:

President Trump’s trip to Europe was truly historic.

He left our most important allies there so uncertain about America’s commitment to their security from Russia and to shared values on trade and climate change that German leader Angela Merkel was prompted to tell her countrymen that Europe’s days of relying on America are “over to a certain extent,” and therefore Germany and its European allies “really must take our fate into our own hands.”

No U.S. president before had ever put a crack in the Atlantic alliance on his inaugural tour. Historic.

Merkel is just the first major leader to say out loud what every American ally is now realizing: America is under new management. “Who is America today?” is the first question I’ve been asked on each stop through New Zealand, Australia and South Korea. My answer: We’re not the U.S.A. anymore. We’re the new U.A.E.: the United American Emirate.

We have an emir. His name is Donald. We have a crown prince. His name is Jared. We have a crown princess. Her name is Ivanka. We have a consultative council (Congress) that rubber-stamps whatever the emir wants. And like any good monarchy, our ruling family sees no conflict of interest between its personal businesses and those of the state.

So any lingering Kennedyesque thoughts about us should be banished, I explained. Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay no price, bear no burden, meet no hardship, support no friend, oppose no foe to assure the success of liberty — unless we’re paid in advance. And we take cash, checks, gold, Visa, American Express, Bitcoin and memberships in Mar-a-Lago.

The Trump doctrine is very simple: There are just four threats in the world: terrorists who will kill us, immigrants who will rape us or take our jobs, importers and exporters who will take our industries — and North Korea. Threats to democracy, free trade, the environment and human rights are no longer on our menu. Therefore, no matter how unsavory you are as a foreign leader, you can be the United American Emirate’s best friend if you:

1.) Pay us by buying our weapons. I warn you, though, Saudi Arabia has set the bar very high, starting at $110 billion.

2.) Pay us in higher defense spending for NATO — not to deter Russia, which is using cyberwarfare to disrupt every democratic election it can, but to deter “terrorism,” something that tanks and planes are useless against.

3.) Pay us in trade concessions. And it doesn’t matter how lame those concessions are. All that matters is that Emir Trump can claim “concessions.” See the recent “trade concessions” to Trump from China. (Pay no attention to that laughter from Beijing.)

4.) Pay us by freeing any U.S. citizen you arrested on trumped-up charges to annoy Barack Obama and to intimidate human rights activists. See Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s release of a U.S.-Egyptian charity worker, Aya Hijazi, who was working with homeless children.

5.) Pay us by grossly flattering our emir about how much of an improvement he is over Obama. See President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and Bibi Netanyahu of Israel.

6.) Be Russia, and you pay nothing.

Now, if you do any one of these six things the United American Emirate’s commitment to you — and it’s ironclad — is that you can do anything you want “out back.” You can deprive your people of whatever human rights you like out back. You can be as corrupt as you want out back. You can steal as many elections as you like out back. Just keep the arms purchases coming, the NATO dues rising, the phony trade concessions flowing and the compliments gushing — or be Vladimir Putin — and anything goes.

Too harsh? Not at all. Being in Korea and seeing how much this country has grown out of poverty over the last 50 years by adopting all of our values — so much so that it just impeached its president for corruption after a peaceful “candlelight” mass protest based entirely on American democratic software — it makes you weep to think that virtually the only thing Trump’s had to say about Korea is that it’s a freeloader on our army (not even true) and needs to pay up.

Does Trump have a point that German economic policies have dampened its imports and disadvantaged southern Europe? Yes, he does. And NATO members should fulfill the alliance’s long-term spending targets. But how much is Germany spending to absorb one million Syrian refugees so they won’t be joining ISIS? How much security is that buying the world? The U.S. took 18,000 Syrians. Trump’s friend Putin took zero, but Trump never thinks about such things.

It took us decades to build the Atlantic alliance and it has brought us so many tangible and intangible benefits in the form of security, stability, growth and friendships. Trump could actually break it, not just crack it.

This week for the first time I saw the official photographs that now grace the entry halls of all U.S. embassies. Vice President Mike Pence is smiling warmly. Trump is actually scowling. If his picture had a caption, it would be: “Get off my lawn.”

It could also say: “Let all who enter this embassy know: We don’t do alliances any more. We only do Master Limited Partnerships. Interested? Call 1-202-456-1414. Operators are standing by.”

And now here’s Mr. Bruni:

Over recent years, without much media fanfare, something fascinating occurred, a reminder that for all the ways in which we seem to be sliding backward, we’re lurching forward, too.

The developing world turned a corner — thanks to medical advances, rising wealth and more — and communicable diseases like malaria and AIDS now kill fewer of its people than noncommunicable ones like heart disease, strokes, respiratory ailments and diabetes do.

But awareness of this progress lags far behind it. According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, noncommunicable diseases were responsible for 67 percent of deaths in low- and middle-income countries in 2015, but only about 1 percent of the foreign aid and donations dedicated to health care was aimed at preventing and treating them.

That discrepancy is showcased in an open letter that Michael Bloomberg publishes every year to explain the direction of Bloomberg Philanthropies, which gives away hundreds of millions of dollars annually, much of it to promote health.

He provided me with an advance copy and sat down with me last week to underscore its plea that nonprofits and governments work harder to fight noncommunicable diseases.

Viewed one way, he’s trying to globalize priorities from his time as mayor of New York, where he waged wars against smoking and trans fats and coaxed people to eat smarter and exercise more.

“In 12 years in City Hall, life expectancy increased by three years,” he said, referring to New York during his mayoralty, which ended in 2013. As he spoke, he nibbled from several bowls of snacks — blackberries, grapes, carrots — arrayed colorfully before us like props in a movie devoted to an obvious theme.

I asked him if his public crusades had made him a private health nut.

Yes and no, he said, copping to too much bread and conceding that he means to exercise daily but often manages only four times a week. He hasn’t smoked in many decades, though.

“A friend of mine once said the way to stop smoking is to close your eyes, think about the person you dislike the most,” Bloomberg, 75, told me. “Now, do you want to be at their funeral or you want them to be at yours?”

He was making a point about how difficult it can be for people to change their behavior, which is a big part of foiling noncommunicable diseases. It’s also one reason those diseases don’t always generate the concern that something like Zika or Ebola does. They’re regarded as the sufferer’s fault.

There are other reasons, too. A communicable disease can spread fast and far and kill indiscriminate of age.

But heart disease, respiratory ailments and diabetes — all among the world’s top 10 causes of death — also end the lives of many people still in their prime. And they’re often abetted by environmental factors within government’s influence.

We’ve used taxes to lessen the appeal of cigarettes and can take a similar approach with sugary beverages. We can construct parks and bike lanes.

We can clean the air. We can improve road safety; traffic injuries were the 10th leading cause of death globally in 2015, according to the World Health Organization.

Bloomberg is advocating all of this in a new role as the W.H.O.’s global ambassador for noncommunicable diseases. And his charitable organization’s Partnership for Healthy Cities provides money and other support to local governments around the world that implement policies to prevent noncommunicable diseases, road injuries or both. A decade ago, his organization funded two programs along these lines; now it funds nine. He has committed more than $800 million over the next six years to these efforts.

He noted that while many countries have cut smoking rates, none has made significant inroads against obesity, maybe because people don’t deem someone else’s extreme overweightness to be a concern of theirs, the way secondhand smoke is.

“You have 80 percent that want you to stop smoking,” he said. “Zero percent want you to stop being obese.” People need to understand better the wages of obesity, but such education isn’t easy.

“What percentage of the public would know the name of the vice president of the United States?” he said, noting that many Americans don’t. “It’s hard to get a message out.”

Ah, politics. I knew we’d get there. Bloomberg, an independent who opposed Donald Trump, said that Democrats never found an effective message. “Hillary said, ‘Vote for me because I’m a woman and the other guy’s bad,’ ” he said.

They’re still searching for the right issues and words, he said, and too many have visions of 2020 dancing in their heads.

“They’ll step on each other and re-elect Donald Trump,” he told me, estimating “a 55 percent chance he gets re-elected.”

Fifty-five percent? Whether good for my longevity or not, I need a cookie.

Screw the cookie — I need a drink.

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