For all the ink spilled about Trump being a loose cannon, there are no surprises here. Bad relations with Germany if he won were a fait accompli. This is the course Americans chose. Now we get the consequences, for better or worse.
The last 70 years of peace in Europe were pretty boring.
“The times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out. I’ve experienced that in the last few days,” Merkel told a crowd at an election rally in Munich, southern Germany.
“We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands,” she added…
The chancellor had just returned from a G7 summit which wound up Saturday without a deal between the US and the other six major advanced nations on upholding the 2015 Paris climate accords.
Merkel on Saturday labelled the result of the “six against one” discussion “very difficult, not to say very unsatisfactory”.
Trump made his feelings plain this week. Upbraiding Europe for not meeting its defense obligations under NATO was fair, but doing it without an explicit affirmation of America’s commitment to Article 5 undercut the importance of the alliance. He wouldn’t commit to the Paris Accord on climate change either — also foreseeable given his campaign promises to revisit the treaty — and reportedly told his inner circle that he intends to withdraw from the agreement. He called Germany “very bad” on trade even though German automakers employ more than 100,000 Americans. All of that came amid profound philosophical disagreements about immigration and the fact that Trump palpably seems more interested in better relations with Moscow than with Berlin. Merkel finally took the hint.
Since 1945, the supreme strategic goal in Europe of the USSR and then Russia was the severing of the US-German alliance. Trump delivered.
— David Frum (@davidfrum) May 28, 2017
Believe me, Germany’s future nuclear arsenal will be the best nuclear arsenal. Really terrific!
Maybe this’ll be smoothed over the next time we have a multilateralist Democrat or hawkish Republican in the White House, but I don’t know. If Merkel thought this was nothing more than a Trump-related blip in U.S. relations, would she have made comments as dramatic as these? Right-wing nationalists in the U.S. loathe her for her open-borders policy towards the Middle East and admire various elements of Putinism — his “strength” towards enemies, his image as a defender of Christianity against the leftist/Islamist hordes, his effort to boost nationalists like Trump and Le Pen by sabotaging their electoral opponents. That sentiment will survive Trump’s presidency; the only question is how much of the right will adopt it.
Democrats, meanwhile, are drifting away from Obama/Clinton-style neoliberalism towards harder leftism, which is skeptical of NATO for its own reasons. Bernie Sanders sounded a lot like Trump at times during the last campaign when discussing NATO, once suggesting that we should build a new alliance for the age of terrorism that incorporates not just NATO allies but Russia as well. The far-left candidate in France’s election, Jean-Luc Melenchon, was also soft on Putin. Trump’s next Democratic opponent will be a Russia hawk for reasons of pure partisanship, because suspicions of collusion between him and Putin run so deep among liberals, but in 2024? Who knows if either party’s nominee will want to revive the U.S.-German anti-Russian alliance, especially if Trump has succeeded in the interim in making some sort of grand bargain with Moscow.
But it’s not all necessarily bad news. Maybe the EU, anchored by the French-German alliance, is built to last — for awhile — and will begin to pick up the burden of providing for its own defense. Germany will develop nuclear weapons so that it’s not outgunned by traditional enemies to its west and east; eastern Europe will begin to militarize more aggressively knowing that U.S. support against Russia is no longer a given and that Berlin won’t play nice forever. So long as the threat from Russia looms large, Europe has a reason to hang together. And what happens long-term if Russia remains a fading power with a weak oil-dependent economy, removing the urgency for friendly relations among European countries? Probably nothing good! But that’s a problem for President Ivanka to worry about circa 2050.
Here’s France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron, at the NATO summit greeting the leader of the new dominant power in Europe. Look at it this way: By 2100, it’ll all be part of the caliphate anyway.