Trump picks fights with US Allies: Germany, NATO, EU, Britain etc.

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

After Trump falsely accused President Obama of having him wiretapped at Trump Tower during the campaign, Sean Spicer upped the ante by charging that Obama could have used the British GCHQ electronic surveillance agency to carry out the monitoring. GCHQ does in fact outrageously invade people’s privacy online, but there is no reason to think it targeted Trump or that President Obama could have ordered them around. Although initially it was reported that Spicer apologized to an outraged British government, he denies any apology was proffered.

After an awkward meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the leader of the Free World, Trump tweeted out an insulting message accusing Germany and other NATO countries of not paying the US enough for the “very expensive” defense umbrella Washington spreads over Europe.

But NATO countries don’t pay anything to the United States. Trump does not understand how NATO works. They just devote some proportion of GDP to their own defense. The idea that the US is owed anything by European countries for deigning to erect a North Atantic Treaty Organization over their heads is daft. It is the US that wanted NATO, for its own Cold War purposes. About 5 NATO countries devote 2% of GDP to defense spending, and the rest have (unrealistically) pledged to do so over the next 5 years or so. They’d be better off spending the money on their people. They certainly are not giving any of it to Washington, however.

Trump’s threat to slap a 35% tariff on BMW automobiles made at a new plant in Mexico and exported to the US could meet with a German lawsuit at the World Trade Organization, German experts agree.

Trump’s budget cuts roughly 38% from the $56 bn. international affairs section, including deep cuts to the State Department, to US AID, and to foreign aid. In the 1990s, the era of the ‘peace dividend’ after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US walked away from any involvement in Afghanistan after funding a major jihad there against the Soviets. (The US withdrawal was negotiated by George H. W. Bush with Soviet premier Mihail Gorbachev as a quid pro quo for the Soviet withdrawal). In the subsequent vacuum, the Taliban took over Afghanistan and hosted al-Qaeda, and 9/11 was the result.

The European Union has complained bitterly about proposed US cuts in development aid. The UN is in the midst of a major, and so far amazingly successful, bid to reduce absolute poverty in the world. Trump’s stinginess would endanger the success of this program. In Trump’s budget, only Israel’s $3 bn a year is sacrosanct. Israel is a wealthy country that doesn’t need US aid.

At this rate we won’t have any allies soon.

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Newsy: “Trump: Germany ‘owes’ US, NATO for defense”

21 Responses

  1. Being inextricably entangled in crime Trump naturally would view NATO as little more than a protection racket. Who should be surprised?

  2. It’s obvious that Trump’s obfuscations, lies, and personal aggrandizements create opportunity for our strategic enemies to sow divisions and doubts between America and its natural allies.

    The weakness that Trump’s deranged rhetoric brings, will shew particularly when some unexpected crisis flares, say when, the Pillipines turns over, the previously American held, Subic Bay base to the Chinese, or when the Korea situation starts to spiral.

    People most immediately at risk from this confused braggart include the Kurds, Vietnamese, the Sahel, Palestinians, and Ukraine,

    Given time, events will test the Trump blowhard Administration and the crops planted by Trump’s deviant speech will produce fruit.

    And they will taste bitter.

  3. I wonder if she read him the riot act on global warming. Must be difficult for one of the world’s most competent leaders to sit and chat with the Leader of the Free World, knowing he is a denier.

    • No. Trump’s foreign policy with regards to the EU is clear to me even though it’s execution is ham-handed hence will become counter-productive if that continues.
      In order to create the millions of jobs which candidate Trump has promised he must cut down or ideally eliminate serious competitors on the world markets. Russia is not a competitor hence needs no attacks. China of course is a big competitor and candidate Trump all but vowed to cut it to pieces. He has placed that into the political refrigerator when he realized how big that task would be. If the anti-EU campaign is successful it will be taken out again and Bejing knows it.
      There will eventually be measures against outsourcing to low-wage, low-tax countries.
      However, the biggest and potentially the most powerful economic competitor is the EU. It needs to be cut down and if Russia can help Russian help is welcome. Insulting Great Britain is stupid because Brexit helps cutting the EU down too.
      The new axis is to be Washington-London-Moscow. Weird!
      Within the EU Germany is the biggest competitor. Its position on the world markets will decrease if it needs to up it’s NATO contribution faster than anticipated. Merkel said no. Hence the Trumpian cold shoulder.
      Trump’s foreign policies are not crazy when viewed in the economic-financial framework. They may be dumb but they are predictable.

  4. President Dirtbag makes our entire country look like a bunch of fools for electing this rude, unprincipled, inept orange-tinged clown to be our President.

    Clearly, our new President is unable to shake hands with dignitaries, correctly. Time after time this egotistical mockery of a national leader has botched this most fundamental show of respect.

    With Chancellor Merkel, President Maladroit outdid himself by not only avoiding her handshake but attempting to tie Chancellor Merkel into his appalling Obama “deep state” bull•••• lie.

    But the super-rich 1% and the WAL•MART trailer trash racists still adore him because they NEVER accepted a black man as their President. Apparently, an orange fossil fuel tool is OK?

  5. Trump may have been the big Kahuna at his meeting with Angela Merkel, but for many people not among his followers there will be a sense that he was outclassed by the lady from Berlin.

  6. US European allies will stick around because the US keeps post-colonial nostalgia in play. Besides, alliances are entirely pragmatic and have nothing to do with affection or friendship, both of which, like any teetering Hollywood marriage, are inversely proportional to the intensity of their protestation.

  7. Could a lesson Trump learned in business be even more pertinent to Foreign Affairs, that all that really matters is the bottom line and the exercise of brute, coercive power?

    Amongst adults, Gemutlichkeit has always been overrated when it comes to having ones way. It can serve to help finesse children of all ages, and to build ones legitimacy amongst the same. And integrity is certainly a trait one values and encourages amongst ones employees for purposes of productivity. But Trump is to the manor born and knows better.

    Trump knows when you’re a Star they’ll let you do anything, and in many cases ask for it; about all those folks down at Mar a Lago who kiss his ass and just keep on smiling. Sure, Merkel, you or I, will shun an Ass like Trump, all things being equal. But things never really are, and certainly not when real stakes are involved.

    Did anyone else note how quickly and transparently the UN caved when Israel exercised its understanding of this reality upon The Donald?

    This may all be bad karma, but it works as long as a necessary clarity of understanding is maintained.

    • This is pure Machiavelli. I hadn’t thought of him in terms of business but you are right. The curious thing is everyone knows this intuitively, just like The Art of War. Elliot said we can’t take too much reality. Perhaps civilisation demands drawing a veil over such truths.

  8. Just remember, these bastards keep surprising us by getting one jump ahead of our worst expectations. Some are writing that Merkel is next on the alt-right hit list, meaning Putin wants her destroyed and perhaps even replaced by the KfD, another Moslem-bashing hate front.

    So you have to ask yourself, is this Trump behavior all part of the preparation for another electoral coup in the country that taught the whole world how dangerous electoral coups can be? Are Trump and Putin foolish enough to think that they can long live with a Germany back under fascist rule? What about the rest of us?

    A White Bloc of the USA, Russia, France, and Germany. Think about it. Three of the world’s five possessors of the H-bomb and ICBMs capable of launching them, and a fourth member that may be more technologically advanced than those three. Unified by the belief that all other races and religions are plotting together to enslave the White Christian man. How does this end peacefully?

    • It’s AfD not KfD. And they have zero chance to get into power in Germany. No other party will ever form a coalition with them, and hell would have to freeze over before they’d garner a majority vote from the German electorate.

      I still expect Merkel to be ousted though, by her challenger from the left. The former EU parliament president Schultz.

    • Not sure I’d buy your particular conjecture about what’s in store, although it’s as good a guess as anyones. And let’s not forget there may be no plan at all (although I think its safe to say Bannon is the vision guy).

      Entonces, I cannot shake the feeling that there’s some sleigh of hand at play here: where we get all exercised with things like the Wall, Russia, or this silly all-to-obviously improvised tweet about wire-taping, and miss what’s really important.

      The linchpin for whatever agenda is really unfolding, at least legally, will be the Supreme Court and the AG’s enforcement, so that’s where I’m focusing my attention.

  9. In 1945 the shift of power from Europe to America which began in WW1 was complete. New York had become the undisputed economic and banking center of the world. That was Trump’s Great America to which he wants us to return oblivious of the fact that that is impossible.
    Anyone who believed that the world of 1945 would be permanent was utterly naive. Some flow of power back to Europe was inevitable once the war wounds had been healed.
    Our Don Quichote President cannot accept this hence his continued belittling and threatening of Europe. That is a waste of time, energy, and resources.

  10. How can the European command structure trust the Americans in their midst? If the Russians attack what will the Americans do, fight them, fight the Europeans, or just stay neutral?

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