This is an excellent explanation of the benefits that have now resulted from the summit as limited as they are. The fact that nothing worse happened is the largest success. As diplomacy and a working channel of communication is always preferable to the alternative that is a clear value. The fact that Trump is mostly ignorant of any detailed history of international relations in Asia or anywhere else, for that matter, and is a crude opportunist he can ignore decades of tradition and respond to only his own impulse toward people he sees as strong and who’s accolades would be most flattering to his self image. He is certainly useful in that situation.
Unfortunately the people Trump wants to emulate are old fashioned murderous dictators. In that situation he is valuable in opening lines of communication with that, fortunately, rather limited demographic. But there is always arguments for ‘realpolitik’ in times of rising discord. So credit should be given where it is deserved with a clear understanding of where that place exists.
I agree that the great majority of people, and media voices simply reflect the consensus, see Trump as incompetent and dangerous as hell. Allowing Trump to play up to murderous dictators, the only people he seems to respect, is a dangerous game. The majority of even knowledgable people have difficulty with the inherent cynicism of the realpolitik view. Morality has a role in what we allow to be done in our names. Trump as a moral and ethical cesspool will receive no credit short of magically curing all cancer. And even that may not be adequate to many people. I don’t think we can hold that against them.
A larger benefit resulting from this dangerous game is the rapid removal of dependence on the US in international relations. This has been a real dose of the dangers now tied to any dependence on the US. In that sense I’m afraid you have greatly underestimated the rapid changes coming to East Asia. Xi is managing this very well having studied Trump up close and apparently agrees with Putin’s identification of him as a useful fool.
I go with Xi. The destruction of the US as positive force leaves China with nearly all the cards. I’m waiting to see how quickly Abe falls and how Japan reorients to China. Trump is doing his job.