The four top Americans who flew to Europe perplexed things about Trump’s intentions

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General (on the right) and James Mattis, the US Secretary of Defense delivered a joint statement after a bilateral meeting, in the context of the regular gathering of NATO ministers of defense. Brussels, Belgium, 15-16 February 2017. (NATO photo gallery).

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General (on the right) and James Mattis, the US Secretary of Defense delivered a joint statement after a bilateral meeting, in the context of the regular gathering of NATO ministers of defense. Brussels, Belgium, 15-16 February 2017. (NATO photo gallery).

Four top ranking Washington bigwigs – who flew to Munich, Brussels and Bonn to mend fences with Europe, after Donald Trump termed NATO ‘obsolete’ and rejoiced the unraveling of the EU, left the Europeans bewildered with the dangerously diverging stories they had to narrate. Only the extreme right wing, Polish Defense Minister Anton Macierewicz seemed convinced by the most senior Trump government members, despite the fact that it will be his own country to pay the dearest price, if the White House and the Kremlin decide to cooperate in Ukraine and Syria.

The other Europeans were left wondering if these top American dignitaries and their White House boss even had a rough plan, about the US strategic vision about Europe and beyond. The shocking truth is that amongst most Europeans, a dangerous feeling reigned after the visit, of not being convinced even regarding the very basic intentions of the White House.

White House in disarray

US Vice President Mike Pence, the powerful Republican senator John McCaine, State Secretary Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis all had a different narratives to offer, about the future relations between Europe and the US. They all attended the 53rd Munich Security Conference, at the exception of Tillerson who landed in Bonne for the G20 foreign ministers gathering.

McCaine, a top ranking Republican lawmaker but critical of Trump, straightforwardly said that the new administration is “in disarray”. Last Friday, this was his central message at his opening speech at the Munich Conference. Later on, McCaine, commenting on the latest indiscriminate Trump attack on the Press, said that “dictators start from suppressing the Press”. Understandably, an American administration without a clear vision of the world and the US itself, may become very dangerous.

A messenger Vice President?

On the same occasion, VP Pence told his European audience that he brings the reassurances of President Trump about the “Transatlantic alliance”. None was convinced though, because everybody knows that the EU – US ‘Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership’ is practically dead. On many occasions Trump has shot to kill it, because “it’s not good for the American people”. Pence did injustice to himself and the status of his office by mentioning the name of his boss 19 times in a 20 minutes speech and also by offering ‘greetings’ from the President to anybody in the room, as if he were just the chief’s courier.

Undoubtedly, after the four Americans left Europe, the Europeans remained worried about Trump’s clearly expressed wish for a close rapprochement with Russia. More than once, the US President has spoken positively about the Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Europeans however cannot forget the deceitful way with which Russia occupied and then annexed Crimea, the Ukrainian strategic peninsula in Black Sea. Unfortunately, then, on the crucial issue of the US stance vis-à-vis Russia’s aggressiveness, Tillerson and Mattis made widely contradicting statements.

Contradicting statements

The State Secretary said that he “may consider working with Russia”. In this way, Tillerson appeared positively disposed ahead of his meeting with the Russian Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, which took place in Bonn last week. According to a Reuters report, a US official said that during his meeting with Lavrov, Tillerson was looking for “pragmatic and constructive cooperation in areas where our interests overlap”. “The obvious ones which have been discussed many times are counter-ISIS and counterterrorism would be areas that the Secretary would hope to develop some possible avenues for cooperation,” the official also said. On the contrary, Mattis speaking at last week’s NATO Convention in Brussels, said that the US is not considering collaboration with Moscow. Evidently ‘counterterrorism’ and ‘counter-ISIS’ actions are of fundamentally military character and Mattis should have known what Tillerson was supposed to discuss those issues with Lavrov. Obviously, he didn’t.

Apologetic Europeans

From the European side, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel felt obliged to apologize to the US, about the devalued euro in relation to the dollar. Trump has repeatedly accused Eurozone and more so Germany, of having grossly devalued the common European currency, aiming at “stealing jobs from the Americans”. As a matter of fact, this is partly true. Last year Germany achieved a historical record in foreign trade surplus, due to a much cheaper euro. That’s why last Friday Merkel rushed to recognize that there is a real problem with the undervalued euro. At the Munich Conference, with the Americans watching, she stressed that this is not the outcome of Germany’s proper economic policy measures. Merkel went on and explained that this is the result of the extraordinary monetary policy measures and the very low interest rates of the independent European Central Bank.

She continued elaborating, that the ECB is conducting its quantitatively super-eased and low interest rate monetary policy, with an eye at the weakest euro area economies. In this respect, the cheap euro and the very low interest rates are meant to support the exports and suppress the cost (low interest rate) of refinancing the debt of Portugal, Spain, Italy, Slovakia and Slovenia. If Germany had as her national currency the old D-mark, the money’s parity with the dollar would have been much higher. But it’s not. As a result, Germany’s exporters unintentionally profit from an unwarranted very cheap euro. At the same time though, Germany loses a lot from the lower dollar value of her euro reserves, which have been accumulated over the years from a widely positive trade surplus.

It’s ECB’s fault: Merkel

It’s equally true that ECB’s low rates policy has deprived Germany from any interest gains on her savings. So, Merkel concluded that Berlin has neither the authority nor the influence to change this expansionist and zero interest rate monetary policy of the independent ECB, which caters for the whole of the Eurozone and not exclusively for Germany. In short she pointed to the direction of Mario Draghi, telling the Americas that he must be the target of their criticism. All that was actually a ‘de profundis’, and from a certain angle a self-humiliating presentation by the German Chancellor, of the internal Eurozone policy stalemates, for the Americans to grasp.

From the French side however, the comments were not apologetic, but rather aggressive against the Americans. The French Foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault appeared belligerent towards what Pence had said, and observed that the American Vice President didn’t mention not once the name of the European Union. It must be underlined also that Pence’s direct and imperative demand for a greater European financial contribution in NATO, was received in the room with a deafening silence. It was plain that Pence had received particularly strong instructions from Trump about the NATO money. Judging from an ‘a contrario’ side, Trump hadn’t taken the pain to give Pence equally clear instructions on the other issues, which are of prime interest for the Europeans.

At the end of the day, there was no doubt that the four Americans who came to mend fences with Europe, created more questions than the answers they delivered. They rather confirmed the ideas the Europeans had about the Trump administration; disrespectful for the EU, vying for economic protectionism and being strategically flippant in confronting the Russian assertiveness.

 

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Visa liberalisation: Commission reports on fulfilment of visa-free requirements by Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries

Don’t dismiss start-ups founded by millennials. This is how they succeed

Parliament leads the way on first set of EU rules for Artificial Intelligence

EU growth in 2015 to be again sluggish; Can the Juncker Commission fight this out?

End ‘shame, isolation and segregation’ of fistula sufferers, urges UN reproductive health chief

Is this a turning point in the fight against slavery?

How to close the gender pay gap in three steps

On Google antitrust case: “Let’s face it, some companies want to hurt Google and it goes as simple as that”

The digital revolution will transform the steel industry

The Commission offers exit from the EU budget stalemate

These 11 companies are leading the way to a circular economy

EU and Airbus Member States take action to ensure full compliance in the WTO aircraft dispute

Antitrust: Commission fines car parts suppliers of € 18 million in cartel settlement

Soil pollution ‘jeopardizing’ life on Earth, UN agency warns on World Day

MWC 2016 LIVE: Orange targets VoLTE and Voice over Wi-Fi; strikes Google partnership

Investing in rural women and girls, ‘essential’ for everyone’s future: UN chief

Humanitarian visas would reduce refugees’ death toll

EU budget for 2021-2027: Commission welcomes provisional agreement on Horizon Europe, the future EU research and innovation programme

IMF asks Europe to decide on bank resolutions and the Greek Gordian knot

Healthcare guidance apps to professional’s continued education?

ILO warns of widespread insecurity in the global labour market

World-famous cultural institutions closed due to coronavirus are welcoming virtual visitors

Trade with the United States: Council authorises negotiations on elimination of tariffs for industrial goods and on conformity assessment

Green Deal: Commission adopts new Chemicals Strategy towards a toxic-free environment

The London City-EU connection holds despite of Brexit and the ban of LSE-Deutsche Börse merger

Coronavirus: a cultural escape goat or the next Big Five

EU Emissions Trading System does not hurt firms’ profitability

These EU countries have the most government debt

Conditions deteriorating alarmingly in Yemen, warns senior UN official

DR Congo: Restore internet services as ‘a matter of urgency’, urges UN expert

UN celebrates books as ‘bridges across cultures’

Tackle ‘tsunami of hatred’ across the world urges Guterres, to counter anti-Semitism, racism and intolerance

EU leaders slammed on anti-tax evasion inaction and expensive energy

EU to Telcos: Stop Mergers and Acquisitions but please help me urgently with 5G development

China-EU Summit on 16-17 July 2018: “Work together to address common challenges”, by China’s Ambassador to the EU

How can we measure real progress on the Sustainable Development Goals?

UN health agency highlights lifestyle choices that can prevent onset of dementia, as millions more succumb each year

Brexit: European Commission intensifies preparedness work and outlines contingency action plan in the event of a no deal scenario with the UK

July was the hottest month ever – what does that actually mean?

Landmark agreement will protect 100 European Geographical Indications in China

Could switching between summer and winter time end in 2021?

Greferendum: the biggest political gaffe in western modern history to tear Europe apart? #Grexit #Graccident

“Financial crisis will not happen in China!”, the Chinese Premier underlines from Switzerland; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

A brief history of cryptography and why it matters

State aid: Commission opens investigation into proposed public support for Peugeot plant in Spain

Escalation in Syria fighting cause for ‘great concern’ says UN chief, dozens more civilians dead or injured

Afghanistan: Civilian casualties exceed 10,000 for sixth straight year

Last year, this coral reef was teeming with life. Now it’s dying – and it’s up to us to save it

Free flow of non-personal data: Parliament approves EU’s fifth freedom

UN chief welcomes ‘positive steps’ towards peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia

After swallowing effortlessly the right to be forgotten time for Google Ads now to behave

Respect people’s peaceful assembly and fair trail rights, UN human rights wing urges Nicaragua

‘Refrain from violence’ UN chief urges, as presidential election result is announced in DR Congo

We spend half our time at work in meetings – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing

“911, What’s your emergency?”

Why the ECB had to clarify it caters for the entire Eurozone not just Germany?

Amid ‘volatile’ environment, UN mission chief urges Iraqi leaders to ‘listen to the voice of the people’

Why activist athletes are needed today more than ever

EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa: new actions of almost €150 million to tackle human smuggling, protect vulnerable people and stabilise communities in North Africa

Why Africa must be ready to take the quantum leap

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s