Trump’s Trip Was a Catastrophe for U.S.-Europe Relations– The Atlantic
PKonweb Report — Europe “must take its fate into its own hands” faced with a western alliance divided by Brexit and Donald Trump’s presidency, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Europe’s most influential leader said Sunday.
“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.
While Germany and Europe would strive to remain on good terms with America and Britain, “we have to fight for our own destiny”, Merkel went on.
It was a stark declaration from the leader of Europe’s most powerful economy, and a grim take on the transatlantic ties that have underpinned Western security in the generations since World War II. Although relations between Washington and Europe have been strained during periods since 1945, before Trump there has rarely been such a strong feeling from European leaders that they must turn away from Washington and prepare to face the world alone.
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 labeled the result of the “six against one” discussion “very difficult, not to say very unsatisfactory”.
Trump returned to Washington from his nine-day international trip on Saturday.
The American tycoon-turned-president backed a pledge to fight protectionism at the end of the G7 summit on Saturday, but refused to endorse the climate pact, saying he needed more time to decide.
Trump offered a more positive assessment on Twitter Sunday, writing: “Just returned from Europe. Trip was a great success for America. Hard work but big results!”
Trump was on a trip to E.U., NATO and Group of Seven leaders meeting held last week.
The US president had earlier tweeted that he would reveal whether or not the US would stick to the global emissions deal — which he pledged to jettison on the campaign trail.
On a previous leg of his first trip abroad as president, Trump had repeated past criticism of NATO allies for failing to meet the defensive alliance’s military spending commitment of two percent of GDP.
Observers noted that he neglected to publicly endorse the pact’s Article Five, which guarantees that member countries will aid the others they are attacked.
The omission was especially striking as he unveiled a memorial to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the US, the only time the mutual defense clause has been triggered.
Trump also reportedly described German trade practices as “bad, very bad,” in Brussels talks last week, complaining that Europe’s largest economy sells too many cars to the US.
The United States remains the largest economy in the world, and its military is indispensable for European security, putting a clear limit on Europe’s ability to declare independence. American consumers also form an important market for European products – including the German BMWs that Trump complained about in closed-door meetings in Brussels, according to German press accounts.
But Merkel has expressed willingness to jolt her nation’s military spending upwards, a first step both to answering American criticism that it falls far short of NATO pledges and to lessening its dependence on the U.S. security blanket. Germany hiked its military spending by $2.2 billion this year, to $41 billion, but it remains far from being able to stand on its own militarily.
European leaders feel more confident now than they did a month or two ago, following the landslide presidential victory this month in France of Emmanuel Macron. His ascent to power helped put a mental cap on a one-two hit last year after Britain voted to leave the European Union and the nationalist Trump was elected in the United States.
Special emphasis was needed on warm relations between Berlin and newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron, Merkel said.
Calling Trump’s trip a catastrophe for U.S.-Europe relations, The Atlantic said, “Angela Merkel has served formal notice that she will lead the German wandering away from the American alliance.”
Sunday’s event saw Merkel renew bonds with the Christian Social Union (CSU), Bavarian sister party to her own center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), ahead of a parliamentary vote in September.
Polls show chancellor Merkel in power since 2005, on course to be re-elected for a fourth term.
“Donald Trump is doing damage to the deepest and most broadly agreed foreign-policy interests of the United States. He is doing so while people associated with his campaign are under suspicion of colluding with Vladimir Putin’s spy agencies to bring him to office. The situation is both ugly and dangerous,” The Atlantic commented.