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A viral G7 photo captures the state of Trump’s relationships with world leaders

It’s the photo memed around the world.

World leaders huddle at the G7 summit.
Jesco Denzel/German Federal Government via AP Images
Li Zhou is a politics reporter at Vox, where she covers Congress and elections. Previously, she was a tech policy reporter at Politico and an editorial fellow at the Atlantic.

One viral photo from the G7 summit seemed to perfectly sum up the state of affairs: It’s President Donald Trump versus the world.

The image, which featured a series of world leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron towering over Trump as he appeared to cross his arms defiantly, prompted a New Yorker-esque caption contest across the internet, kicked off by none other than Merkel herself.

“Day two of the G-7 summit in Canada: spontaneous meeting between two working sessions,” she wrote, after posting the image on Instagram. Others quickly offered up their takes, including former Belgium prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, who didn’t hold back.

The now-iconic image from German government photographer Jesco Denzel offers a spot-on illustration of the current moment, as Trump finds himself increasingly at odds with a number of US allies.

Many world leaders were already on tenterhooks going into the G7 summit, a historically consensus-driven gathering, due to concerns about Trump’s polarizing trade policies, not to mention his insistence that Russia should be readmitted to the G7.

While the participating countries actually seemed to work out some of these differences during the gathering, Trump went on to rattle everyone once more when he abruptly retracted US support from the agreement that was reached. As a result of all this, Trump is going into a pivotal North Korea summit pretty much isolated on Tuesday — much like he is at the table in this photo.

In light of Trump’s divisive behavior, publications around the world had plenty of thoughts on the image as well. People’s Daily, China’s largest newspaper, split-screened the image alongside one of a meeting that President Xi Jinping held that same day.

The German publication Die Welt deemed the photo “the moment that broke the West,” while the magazine for Süddeutsche Zeitung suggested that the photo resembled the scene of a parent reprimanding an impertinent child.

While others around the world criticized Trump for alienating America’s allies, and saw this image as a fitting depiction of that, National Security Adviser John Bolton suggested that the picture simply captured an instance of the US finally standing up for itself.

“The President made it clear today. No more,” he wrote.

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