Much has rightfully been made of Angela Merkel’s comments following NATO and G7 meetings attended by Donald Trump.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday declared a new chapter in U.S.-European relations after contentious meetings with President Trump last week, saying that Europe “really must take our fate into our own hands.”…
Merkel, Europe’s de facto leader, told a packed beer hall rally in Munich that the days when her continent could rely on others was “over to a certain extent. This is what I have experienced in the last few days.”
But as Josh Marshall points out, equally alarming is the fact that the new President of France, Emmanuel Macron, compared President Trump to Putin and Erdogan.
Our European allies seemed to be hoping for the best after Trump’s election. But something happened in Belgium and Italy that dashed those hopes. Here are the things we know about:
- After telling Arab leaders that he wasn’t there to lecture them, Trump berated our NATO allies with his false claim that they owed massive amounts of money to the alliance and U.S. taxpayers.
- At a meeting on trade, Trump suggested that Germany was bad because of the millions of cars they are selling to the U.S.
- Trump was the only G7 leader to not affirm the Paris Agreement, which led to a failure to agree on a statement about climate change.
On more personal terms, Trump also shoved aside the Montenegrin prime minister to put himself in front of a photo op, and complained to the Belgian prime minister about European regulations that had slowed down the construction of one of his golf courses. It is very possible that there were additional confrontations (both personal and policy-oriented) that occurred at meetings behind closed doors.
The comments from Merkel and Macron signal that these events might have triggered a realignment of this country’s decades-old relationship with our European allies. It is hard to escape the idea that Trump’s efforts were meant to, at minimum, destabilize our relationships with NATO and the G7 countries—a strategy that just so happens to align perfectly with what Putin has been attempting to do for years now.
How will Europe respond? Max Fisher explains:
This is why there's growing European discussion of an extreme option to replace US commitments: a Euro nukes program https://t.co/M9mA8gTRpS
— Max Fisher (@Max_Fisher) May 28, 2017
But missing from much of the commentary on the outcomes of Trump’s first trip abroad is that it’s not just Putin who will benefit from this turn of events. As the three items up above indicate, Trump is abdicating U.S. leadership on both climate change and trade. In the meantime, China is working to position itself as the global leader on renewable energy, pledging to spend at least $360 billion by 2020. Even more importantly, while we’ve been focused on unraveling the connection between Trump and Russia, China recently held a gathering of global leaders to gather support for their “Belt and Road Initiative.”
China is aiming to re-create Marco Polo’s ancient “Silk Road” that connected Europe to Asia.
But instead of the camels and caravans that transported spices and silk hundreds of years ago, a $1.4 trillion network of modern trading routes would be built…
Analysts suggest the project could shift the center of global economy and challenge the U.S.-led world order…
It envisions new roads, high-speed rail, power plants, pipelines, ports and airports and telecommunications links that would boost commerce between China and 60 countries in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
All of that should give you some idea of why Obama often talked about the need for a “pivot to Asia.”
Upon returning from his trip abroad, Trump once again started tweeting:
Just returned from Europe. Trip was a great success for America. Hard work but big results!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2017
Perhaps it was “hard work” alienating so many of this country’s allies and, as I’ve explained, the results will be big. But the successes won’t be for America. In basically handing the reins of global leadership to Russia and China on his first trip abroad, it is hard to imagine how one person could do so much damage to this country (and our allies) in such a short amount of time.