Monday, May 29, 2017

Trump Is a Catastrophe for U.S.- Europe Relations

A lengthy piece in The Atlantic by a Republican - or perhaps former Republican - is a must read in terms of understanding the damage that Donald Trump has done to American-Europe relations.  The piece offers a good history lesson of U.S. -German relations since the end of World War II - most Trump supporters seemingly know little or no accurate history - and points out that Trump is accomplishing what decades of Soviet and Russian machinations had failed to do (unless, of course, one views Trump as a Russian agent).  The net result will be a reduction in American global power, something that ought to alarm supposed patriots on the political right, even as it puts a smile on the face of Vladimir Putin.   Here are article highlights (read the entire piece and note the statement that things could not have gone better for Russian if Putin had written the script):
Seven years after the end of the Second World War, on the 10th of March 1952, the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the newly established Federal Republic of Germany received an astounding note from the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union offered to withdraw the troops that then occupied eastern Germany and to end its rule over the occupied zone. Germany would be reunited under a constitution that allowed the country freedom to choose its own social system. Germany would even be allowed to rebuild its military, and all Germans except those convicted of war crimes would regain their political rights. In return, the Allied troops in western Germany would also be withdrawn—and reunited Germany would be forbidden to join the new NATO alliance.
Determined to anchor Germany securely in the Western camp of nations, German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer rebuffed the “Stalin note.” West Germany would enter NATO in 1955, build the European Union, and develop as an Atlanticist liberal democracy.  
The Soviets did not quit, however. Again and again through the Cold War they would probe for ways to split Germany from the West, and especially from the United States. . . . But in the end … it didn’t work. The alliance held. The Soviet bid for dominance collapsed, as did the Soviet Union itself. Germany was reunited on Western terms: liberal and Atlanticist from the Moselle to the Oder.
Without the United States, German reunification would never have proceeded so smoothly or rapidly. That assistance is still gratefully remembered in Germany. But gratitude cuts only so much ice in international relations. When the U.S. tried to mobilize the European powers to manage the breakup of Yugoslavia, Germany balked at the risk. But it was the George W. Bush-Gerhard Schroeder split over the Iraq war in 2003 that definitively ended German deference to American leadership.
Since then, Germany has deferred less and less to the United States—and walked more and more its own path. . . . . Whoever was elected president in 2016 would face quite a challenge renewing and rebuilding the German relationship. Trump has instead done further damage.
Since the war, German politics has been founded on two fundamental commitments: to liberalism at home; to Atlanticism abroad. Only a tiny minority question the first, but a much larger minority doubt the second. Like Americans, the Germans remember the Nazi past. Much more than Americans, the Germans remember that British and American bombers burned the cities of Germany to the ground.
Donald Trump is giving permission to U.S.-skeptic elements in Germany.  I offered the following warning in mid-November of last year:
So long as the Germans most hostile to the U.S. alliance espoused various shades of fascism and communism, then the mighty German middle would cling determinedly to the U.S. alliance as a bulwark of stability and liberalism.
The election of Donald Trump to the presidency up-ends German political assumptions about the United States, at a time when Germans are already ready to have those assumptions up-ended. …
Polls show that German confidence in the United States . . . . has collapsed under Trump to a level barely better than Putin’s Russia. Facing elections in the fall—and reassured that she has gained a congenial partner in France’s President Macron—Merkel has served formal notice that she will lead the German wandering away from the American alliance. . . . she said. “We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands.” Notice that she said “Europeans,” not Germans. Notice too that she did not rule out that Europe might rely on the U.S. and U.K. in the future: The door is not closed. But the old order has passed.
Join those words to Trump’s ostentatious refusal to endorse NATO’s famous Article 5, the guarantee of mutual defense, at the NATO summit, and it’s hard to imagine that the messaging of Trump’s first trip could have been more perfect for Vladimir Putin if he’d written the script himself.
There’s an effort now to spin words to present this trip as something less than an utter catastrophe for U.S. interests in Europe.  . . . . Here’s what’s really true: 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. If it’s to be corrected, all Americans—eminent Republicans like Bob Corker above all—must at least correctly name it for what it is.   

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