Trump disrupts world. This is getting more serious as we approach Friday.
Robin Wright writes in the New Yorker:
Donald Trump knows how to rattle the world. Since Friday, the President-elect has given two interviews that jolted governments from Brussels to Beijing. Many of his ideas disparage the principles, institutions, and alliances central to U.S. foreign policy. Some date back to the Republic’s founding, while others have been adopted since the mid-twentieth century to prevent global conflagrations.
In a joint interview with Britain’s Times and Germany’s Bild, Trump didn’t just laud the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union as a “great thing”; he predicted—and implicitly welcomed—the dismantling of the entire E.U., a bloc backed for sixty years by the United States as the key to healing the divisions that sparked two world wars. “I believe others will leave,” he said. “I do think keeping it together is not going to be as easy as a lot of people think.”
Trump called nato—the centerpiece of trans-Atlantic security—“obsolete.” He charged that it “didn’t deal with terrorism,” even though its first deployment outside Europe was to Afghanistan after 9/11. From 2003 to 2014, natocommanded the International Security Assistance Force, which, at its peak, included a hundred and thirty thousand troops from fifty-one nato and partner countries. It was the longest and toughest single mission in nato history.
Trump also put German Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of America’s half dozen closest allies, in the same category as Russian President Vladimir Putin, a man who controls the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, seized the Crimea from Ukraine, and has warplanes bombing the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. “I start off trusting both, but let’s see how long that lasts,” he said. “It may not last long at all.” He even took on BMW, warning that the German company and other foreign automakers would face a tariff of thirty-five per cent if they tried to import cars built at plants in Mexico to the United States.
In a separate interview, with the Wall Street Journal, Trump said that the long-standing “One China” policy—initiated by President Nixon in 1972 and a cornerstone of U.S. policy ever since—is no longer guaranteed. “Everything is under negotiation, including One China,” he said. He charged that Beijing manipulates its currency in ways that disadvantage American companies. China was one of Trump’s most frequent targets during the campaign. Shortly after he won, he had a telephone conversation with Taiwan’s President, Tsai Ing-wen—ending a protocol in place since 1979 that froze communication between American and Taiwanese leaders.
“What he’s saying is so serious, so grave, that if you take it all seriously it’s a world crisis,” a senior envoy from a long-standing ally told me on Monday. “And he’s saying it all in such a reckless and ignorant way that I suspect everyone is praying that this is not serious.”
Over the next four years, Trump’s comments—made by an ingénue in foreign policy and national security, with no apparent respect for the nuances and niceties of diplomacy—could throw an already fragile world into disorder. It’s one thing to go after Meryl Streep and Hollywood, on Twitter, in polarized America after the Golden Globes. It’s quite another blithely to go after China (the world’s most populous country, with one of the two largest economies and the three strongest militaries), Germany (Europe’s largest economy), and twenty-eight allies (in the mightiest military alliance in world history)—and all at once and all on a global stage.
The pushback, on Monday, was fast and furious. . .