Allies Perplexed and Inspired by Trump’s Rise

Politicians in Europe and North America are breaking their silence to both criticize and praise the Republican.

Businessman Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015
Businessman Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)

Some of America’s closest allies have been perplexed by Donald Trump’s candidacy for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination and publicly voiced their concern, something foreign leaders usually shy away from.

British prime minister David Cameron, whose Conservative Party shares Republicans’ support for free markets and trade, called Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States “divisive” and “stupid” last year.

Cameron later added that comments like Trump’s only help fanatics “want to create a clash of civilizations” between Islam and the West.

Canada’s Justin Trudeau, a Liberal, has similarly said, “I stand firmly against the politics of division, the politics of fear, the politics of intolerance or hateful rhetoric.”

In an interview with CBS News this weekend, the Canadian leader argued, without referring to Trump by name, that openness and respect will do more to diffuse anger than “big walls and oppressive policies.”


Former Mexican president Vicente Fox said last month that Trump reminded him of German dictator Adolf Hitler and that there was no way Mexico would pay for a border wall as the Republican has suggested.

“He has offended Mexico, Mexicans, immigrants. He has offended the pope. He has offended the Chinese. He’s offended everybody,” Fox said.

Trump called Pope Francis’ criticism of his plan to wall off the Mexican border “disgraceful” and suggested that the pontiff might have been used like a “pawn” by the Mexican government.

Sigmar Gabriel, the German economy minister and ruling Social Democratic Party leader, said on Sunday that populists like Trump are a “threat to peace and social cohesion.”

Gabriel compared Trump to European nationalist party leaders Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders, saying they all promise voters “a way back into a fairytale world” in which economic activity can be constrained inside national borders. “We have to make the effort to explain how we want to shape globalization in a fair way,” the German said.

Fan club

Trump does have his European fans.

Although Marine Le Pen hasn’t said anything about him publicly, her father and predecessor as leader of France’s Front national, Jean-Marie, endorsed the New York businessman after he took a day before deciding to disavow the Ku Klux Klan.

The elder Le Pen has argued that the Nazi occupation of France was not “particularly inhumane” and suggested that the Ebola virus could solve Europe’s “immigration problem.”

Wilders, who gained popularity (and notoriety) by campaigning against what he described as the “Islamization” of the Netherlands, has called Trump a “brave” man and said his election would be good for Europe as well as the United States.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has praised Trump as an “undoubtedly brilliant, talented person.” Aleksandr Dugin, a fascist ideologue who is believed to have influenced Putin’s foreign policy in recent years, called Trump a “sensation” and urged Americans to vote for him.

It is not a coincidence that parties like Le Pen’s prefer Putin’s Russia over Barack Obama’s America. The Front national seeks to borrow another €27 million from Russia this year in order to contest the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.

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