Trump enrages the Europeans and isolates the US in G7

Meeting of NATO Heads of State and Government in Brussels, Belgium – 25 May 2017. Donald Trump, President of the United States and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg share a laugh. (NATO Audiovisual Services work).

Last Thursday, Donald Trump, at a superb hall in the new glass and steel NATO building in Brussels, delivered an unruly speech, after having pushed aside Prime Minister Dusko Markovic of Montenegro (the related video has become viral) while walking towards the rostrum. He came out with a blatant and derogatory account aimed at 23 out of the other 27 member states of the western Alliance.

The European leaders were astounded hearing the American President telling them that they “owe massive amounts of money from past years”, to the American taxpayer and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Trump repeated loudly at this event in the heart of Europe with high Press exposure, what he had said to the dazed German Chancellor Angela Merkel last March at the White House.

Europe, after the Arab Gulf

Trump had just flown in to Europe from Saudi Arabia, where he had cashed in $110 billion in contracts for American armaments, plus another $100bn in ‘cooperation’ deals between US companies and the Saudi state oil monopoly Aramco. In Brussels he used the same strategy as in the Arab Gulf, indirectly but unmistakably telling his interlocutors that they have to pay more, for the ‘protection’ the might US armed forces offer them. According to Trump, in the case of Saudi Arabia the enemy is clearly Iran and to this effect he duly exorcised Tehran from the world. It’s exactly the same logic the New York Mafia uses in offering ‘protection’, and it seems that New Yorker Trump knows this game very well.

However, for Europe it was not clear who the enemy could be. He avoided pointing clearly to Russia and took special care to identify who the foe is, that the Europeans need American protection from. He menacingly stated, that “Terrorism must be stopped in its tracks, or the horror you saw in Manchester and so many other places (in Europe) will continue forever”. Obviously, he meant that it will continue forever, unless the Europeans pay the Americans to stop it. He said that clearly as it follows: “These grave security concerns are the same reason that I have been very, very direct … in saying that NATO members must finally contribute their fair share”.

He has divided the US too

There is no doubt that Trump is not a fool going around menacing entire continents. It’s not clear yet, if this drastic change of US foreign policy – from cooperation to aggression towards the rest of the world – authentically expresses the entire American complex power structures, which dictate policy to the White House. It’s pretty clear that within the US, Trump and those who support him are having great trouble prevailing in the complicated American power structures. For the time being, he has managed to divide the US so deeply than ever before. He is desperately fighting to promote his amicable policy towards Russia and aggression towards Europe, the Muslim world and China.

With this trip to Europe he confirmed, that what he told Angela Merkel last March in Washington about her massive debts, is his new European policy. Probably, not by chance then, the antagonistic new French President, Emmanuel Macron in two occasions showily rebuked Trump. Once, when walking towards the gathering of NATO leaders, he first embraced Merkel and shook hands with other Europeans and then turned to Trump. In a second incident, Macron, while shaking hands with Trump in their ‘tête-à-tête’ meeting, clearly held the latter’s hand not letting him twice to withdraw it. The relevant video has become viral in social media. It seems that Macron is trying to resume the leading political role France had in the European Union, by being seen to stand firm against the US, indirectly reminding everybody that his country disposes a very extensive nuclear arsenal.

What sort of NATO does Trump want?

There is more to it though. For one thing, Trump is the only American President, who in his first visit to NATO headquarters didn’t make a straight mention to the famous Article 5 of the Alliance Statutes. This article states, that an attack to one member state is an attack to all of them, so the other 27 are obliged to defend their partner. This fact together with Trump’s omission to make the slightest reference to the Russian aggression in Ukraine, Crimea and Georgia sounded the alarms in many European capitals. He went even further and proposed that NATO change its military character and undertakes anti-immigration action. Presumably, such a prospect would perfectly suit Putin’s plans. Let’s dig a bit into that.

After the start of the Ukrainian civil war and the active Russian intervention in it, a number of European countries have energetically confronted Moscow, fearing a resumption of the Russian outspreading westward, as in the era of USSR. Germany and France feel quite uneasily about that, and of course cannot ever accept the annexation of Crimea to Russia. The previous US administration under Obama was very sensitive to those issues and aggressively confronted Putin’s plans in Europe. Trump however, while not withholding the fast growing military presence of the US in Ukraine, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania and elsewhere, has held back the Washington rhetoric and action vis-à-vis Russia.

Cornered in America

Within the US, the new tenant of the White House is having a hard time protecting himself from accusations, that some of his closest associates and probably also himself have acted carelessly or even treasonously, in their contacts with the Russians. The relevant investigations conducted by the FBI, the House of Representatives, the Senate and an independent investigator have eclipsed any other issue in the US, and Trump has to defend himself from continuous revelations and leaks to the Press.

So strong are the attacks against Trump and his administration for their dealings with Russia, that a number of analysts discuss the possibility even for an impeachment against him. As a result, he has grave problems in applying his policies on immigration, health, the environment, etc.

Isolated in the G7

Thank God, Trump in his third and last European stopover in Taormina, Sicily (after the Vatican and Brussels) didn’t reserve more surprises at the G7 meeting. He stuck with his positions to question both the Paris Climate Agreement and the global order in international trade, enraging the other six leaders. On this last issue he finally conceded, after being strongly pressed, that the six page communiqué of the G7 conference contains the phrase, “pledged to fight protectionism”.

However, Trump may easily retract on that, by saying he is fighting protectionism his own way (America first) or alleging that the US is obliged to confront the trade aggressiveness of Germany and China. According to international news agencies, at the end of the day the G7 leaders on many issues found themselves divided in two camps, the US alone on the one side and France (President Emmanuel Macron), Germany (Chancellor Angela Merkel), Japan (PM Shinzō Abe), Canada (PM Justin Trudeau), Italy (PM Paolo Gentiloni) and even Britain (PM Theresa May) together on the other.

On the whole, the first foreign trip of the new US President confirmed what the entire world already knew: that Trump, if effectively confronted, chooses to retreat. He keeps coming back though on the same issue, if the pressure exercised eases. This makes him a totally unreliable US Commander in Chief, still the most powerful man of the world. In one hundred days he has managed to increase uncertainty and political risks all over the world, including his own country.

 

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