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Thanks to Trump, Germany says it can’t rely on the United States. What does that mean?

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Henry Farrell writes in the Washington Post:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a crowd Sunday in southern Germany that Europe can no longer rely on foreign partners.

Merkel on Sunday declared a new chapter in U.S.-European relations after contentious meetings with President Trump last week, saying that Europe “really must take our fate into our own hands.”

Offering a tough review in the wake of Trump’s trip to visit E.U., NATO and Group of Seven leaders last week, Merkel told a packed Bavarian beer hall rally that the days when Europe could rely on others was “over to a certain extent. This is what I have experienced in the last few days.”

This is an enormous change in political rhetoric. While the public is more familiar with the “special relationship” between Britain and the United States, the German-U.S. relationship has arguably been more important. One of the key purposes of NATO was to embed Germany in an international framework that would prevent it from becoming a threat to European peace as it had been in World War I and World War II. In the words of NATO’s first secretary general, NATO was supposed “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” Now, Merkel is suggesting that the Americans aren’t really in, and, by extension, Germany and Europe are likely to take on a much more substantial and independent role than they have in the past 70 years.

This is thanks to Trump

Merkel’s comment about what she has experienced in the past few days is a clear reference to President Trump’s disastrous European tour. Her belief that the United States is no longer a reliable partner is a direct result of Trump’s words and actions. The keystone of NATO is Article 5, which has typically been read as a commitment that in the event that one member of the alliance is attacked, all other members will come to its aid. When Trump visited NATO, he dedicated a plaque to the one time that Article 5 has been invoked — when all members of NATO promised to come to the United States’ support after the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001. However, Trump did not express his commitmentto Article 5 in his speech to NATO, instead lambasting other NATO members for not spending enough money on their militaries. When Trump went on to the Group of Seven meeting in Italy, he declined to recommit to the Paris agreement on climate change, leaving the other six nations to issue a separate statement.

This cements the impression of the United States as an unreliable partner. Trump has ostentatiously refused to express his commitment to an agreement that has been the bulwark of Europe-U.S. security relations over the past three generations. He also has declined to say that the United States will work within the previously agreed framework on global warming. While many authoritarian states are cheered by Trump’s election and actions, since he is unlikely to press them on human rights and other sore points, traditional U.S. allies are enormously disheartened.

This may lead to a stronger Europe . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 May 2017 at 8:52 pm

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