In Era of Trump, Europeans Become Free Traders

Paolo Gentiloni, Mariano Rajoy, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and Mark Rutte, the leaders of Italy, Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands, deliver a joint news conference in Berlin, June 29
Paolo Gentiloni, Mariano Rajoy, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and Mark Rutte, the leaders of Italy, Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands, deliver a joint news conference in Berlin, June 29 (La Moncloa)

European leaders are preparing for a showdown on trade when they meet Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Hamburg next month.

“Whoever believes that the world’s problems can be solved by isolationism and protectionism is mistaken,” Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, told her parliament on Thursday.

French president Emmanuel Macron chimed in: “If free trade is questioned by a member state then we need to address this.”

He added that he hopes “others will see reason” on issues like climate change and terrorism, which require multilateral cooperation.

Europe and the United States account for half the world’s economic output and a third of its trade. Read more “In Era of Trump, Europeans Become Free Traders”

World Doesn’t Trust Trump: Allies Lose Faith in American Leadership

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, American president Donald Trump and British prime minister Theresa May attend a ceremony at NATO headquarters in Brussels, May 25
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, American president Donald Trump and British prime minister Theresa May attend a ceremony at NATO headquarters in Brussels, May 25 (NATO)

Since Donald Trump’s election, the world’s confidence in American leadership has plummeted from 64 to 22 percent, the Pew Research Center has found.

The decline has been sharpest in America’s closest allies. Less than one in five Europeans trust the United States anymore. Only 22 percent of Canadians do. In Australia and Japan, the numbers are 29 and 24 percent, respectively. Read more “World Doesn’t Trust Trump: Allies Lose Faith in American Leadership”

Donald Trump Ignores All of Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Advice

Former American national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski speaks at the Munich Security Conference, Germany, February 1, 2014
Former American national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski speaks at the Munich Security Conference, Germany, February 1, 2014 (MSC/Tobias Kleinschmidt)

For almost a century, America’s strategic priority has been to prevent the emergence of a dominant power in Eurasia that could challenge it for world supremacy.

Halford Mackinder recognized as early as 1904 that a single power could lord over the continent if it controlled the entire Eurasian “Heartland”, stretching from Moscow to Tehran to Vladivostok.

Alfred Thayer Mahan and Nicholas Spykman argued it was rather control of the “Rimlands” on the edge of Eurasia that could tip the balance of power: Europe, the Middle East and East Asia.

Their ideas were not mutually exclusive. They both informed the United States’ successful policy of containment during the Cold War. To block Russian ambitions, America allied with democratic Europe, Turkey, the shah’s Iran and Japan. It exploited the Sino-Soviet split and armed the mujahideen in Afghanistan to hasten the Soviet Union’s demise.

Now Donald Trump is overturning this century-old wisdom. Read more “Donald Trump Ignores All of Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Advice”

Trump Breathes New Life into Franco-German Partnership

French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel deliver a news conference in Berlin, May 15
French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel deliver a news conference in Berlin, May 15 (Bundesregierung)

Donald Trump is breathing new life into the European Union whose demise he once predicted.

The American president’s disinterest in the Atlantic alliance, and his preference for dealing with strongmen in the Kremlin and the Middle East, is driving France and Germany closer together. Read more “Trump Breathes New Life into Franco-German Partnership”

Merkel’s Call Not to Rely on America: Reckless or Prudent?

German chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a news conference in Berlin, November 9, 2016
German chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a news conference in Berlin, November 9, 2016 (Bundesregierung)

Angela Merkel stunned Germany’s allies this weekend when she suggested Europe could no longer rely on the United States.

“The times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over, as I have experienced in the past few days,” she told supporters of her conservative party in Bavaria.

Merkel had just returned from NATO and G7 summits in Brussels and Italy. Read more “Merkel’s Call Not to Rely on America: Reckless or Prudent?”

European Military Cooperation Need Not Weaken NATO

Italian and Portuguese army units take part in a NATO exercise in Santa Margarida, Portugal, October 21, 2015
Italian and Portuguese army units take part in a NATO exercise in Santa Margarida, Portugal, October 21, 2015 (Sebastien Frechette)

Tomáš Valášek, the director of Carnegie Europe, argues that European allies cannot assume Donald Trump’s aversion to NATO is an anomaly and the next president will put things right. The United States have been cooling on NATO for years, he writes:

A number of factors — a crisis in Europe that grips Americans’ imagination, an articulate pro-European leader in Washington, a crisis in the United States that the European allies help resolve — could revive America’s flagging interest in the alliance it created nearly seventy years ago. But for now, the passage of time and memories work against NATO.

Valášek is nevertheless uneasy about Europeans exploring a “backup” to the Atlantic alliance, arguing that continental security cooperation cannot come close to what Europe and North America have now.

Without plans, commands and sophisticated weapons in meaningful numbers, the Europeans may not on their own impress Russia, he warns — “and may therefore be unable to deter it from misbehaving.” Read more “European Military Cooperation Need Not Weaken NATO”

China, Europe Seek Closer Ties in Era of Trump

Li Keqiang Angela Merkel
China’s premier Li Keqiang speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, May 26, 2013 (Bundesregierung/Guido Bergmann)

China and the European Union are stepping up their cooperation in the era of Donald Trump.

Reuters reports that the two are keen on a summit in the next few months in order to promote free trade and international cooperation.

For the Chinese, it’s about sending a sending a message to Washington that it has friends in Europe.

The Europeans seek Chinese support for international institutions like the World Trade Organization and the United Nations, which Trump has chided.

But that doesn’t mean a new great-power entente is in the works. Read more “China, Europe Seek Closer Ties in Era of Trump”

Mattis Alarms NATO by Threatening to “Moderate” Commitment

Donald Trump James Mattis
American president Donald Trump speaks with his defense secretary, James Mattis, outside the Pentagon in Washington DC, January 27 (DoD/Jette Carr)

Donald Trump’s defense secretary, James Mattis, warned allies on Wednesday that the United States might “moderate” their commitment to NATO unless European countries and Canada raise their own military spending.

“Americans cannot care more for your children’s future security than you do,” Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general, told defense minister in Brussels.

America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to this alliance, each of your capitals needs to show support for our common defense.

Which sounds reasonable, were it not for Mattis’ boss, Trump. He has called NATO “obsolete” and suggested trading sanctions on Russia — which have hurt European economies far more than the United States’ — for a nuclear deal. It looks like America is already “moderating” its commitment to the alliance under this president, no matter what countries across the Atlantic do. Read more “Mattis Alarms NATO by Threatening to “Moderate” Commitment”

As America Turns Inward, Europe and Mexico Double Down on Trade

European Union flags
Flags of the European Union outside the Berlaymont building in Brussels, July 22, 2016 (European Commission)

The European Union and Mexico have committed to deepening their economies ties in the wake of Donald Trump’s inauguration as president of the United States.

In a statement released last week, EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Mexican economy secretary Ildefonso Guajardo announced that they would hold talks in April and June to renew a 2000 trade agreement between the two sides.

The EU hopes to expand the trade deal to broaden property rights protection, lower tariffs and include public tenders as well as trade in energy products and raw materials. Read more “As America Turns Inward, Europe and Mexico Double Down on Trade”

Europe Can Resist Trump in These Four Ways

French president François Hollande, German chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council president Donald Tusk march with other world leaders in Paris, January 11, 2015
French president François Hollande, German chancellor Angela Merkel and European Council president Donald Tusk march with other world leaders in Paris, January 11, 2015 (Bundesregierung)

If there was still any hope in Europe that Donald Trump might turn out to be less disruptive than he promised, the first weeks of his presidency must have put such hopes to rest.

It’s been less than two weeks and Trump has already disheartened America’s allies in Asia by withdrawing from the Trans Pacific Partnership, giving China a golden opportunity to take charge of regional economic integration; offended Australia and Mexico but hinted at improved relations with Russia, and banned Muslim immigrants and refugees from seven countries — including those who were previously approved for a visa — making a mockery of the rule of law and betraying a complete lack of compassion.

Imagine the damage he can — and will — do in four years. Read more “Europe Can Resist Trump in These Four Ways”