President Obama met with foreign leaders Sunday in what is likely to be his final foreign summit before leaving office in January.
At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Peru, Obama said that he may speak out against President-elect Donald Trump if he violates core American values and ideals.
“…If I think that it’s necessary or helpful for me to defend those ideals, then I’ll examine it when it comes.”
“I’m going to be constrained in what I do with all of you until I am again a private citizen. But that’s not so far off.”
While presidents tend to avoid criticizing their successors or predecessors, Trump – whose lies, racism, and poor temperament make him uniquely unqualified for the governance – could well deserve an exception.
Laying Fears To Rest
Obama faced a crowd of world leaders anxious about Trump’s pledge to rip up international trade deals. Talks concerning the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a massive international trade agreement – revolved around whether ratification was possible under a Trump Administration.
Throughout his campaign, Trump spoke out against trade with China. But the TPP was designed specifically as an economic counterweight against China’s growth. Ironically, China now stands to benefit tremendously if Trump follows through on killing the deal.
Trump has also pledged to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The deal regulates trade between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke out against what he called Trump’s “politics of division” last year. Since Trump’s election, Trudeau has offered only the same kind of guarded optimism that other world leaders have.
After meeting with Obama privately, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would “miss having Barack around.” But Obama suggested that as in other areas, President Trump might be more willing to play ball than the populist, protectionist Donald Trump of the campaign trail.
“Once you’re in the Oval Office, once you begin interacting with world leaders, once you see the complexities of the issues, that has a way of shaping your thinking.”
Syria, Ukraine, And Putin
Obama also spoke with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. The meeting was the first time the two leaders met since American intelligence agencies accused Putin’s government of hacking U.S. voter databases and Democratic Party email accounts in an effort to destabilize the recent elections.
But Obama did not address the allegations, which the Kremlin has denied, during their informal conversation.
“The issue of the elections did not come up, because that’s behind us.”
Instead, Obama and Putin discussed possibilities for ending the ongoing violence in Syria and Ukraine.
Knowing that the APEC trip was probably the last time he went abroad as President, Obama reflected on his legacy, saying:
“At the end of the day and at the end of eight years, I can look back and say that I consistently did what I thought was best. Doesn’t mean you don’t make mistakes. But it means you’re being true to your oath and the commitments you made to the people who elected you.”
Watch Obama address the issues and outcomes of the APEC summit below:
Featured image via Voice of America video.