Trump Sees Germany, EU as Top US Foe

In a recent interview published this weekend, President-elect Trump made some astonishing remarks about the German-US relationship that could turn decades of foreign policy on their head. The short version is this: a German-led Europe is a greater threat to the US’s interests than Russia.

 

Europe's Germany, out for American blood as usual
In Donald Trump's world view, Germany is the biggest threat to America–with the possible exception of China, of course

Take time with that idea. Let it sink in a bit. It’s not the first time people have criticized Germany for their economic success, and with good reason—Germany has benefitted disproportionately from the EU’s organization and arrangement. Many people in countries that haven’t seen as much of the EU’s promised plenty see Germany as the force behind their poverty and woes.

 

In fact, when it comes to scapegoats for exploitative economic practices, Germany rates far behind the USA and the UK (to say nothing of China. Say what you will about Russia, at least its leadership only exploits its own population). This is a consequence of Germany never having held a global empire, as did the UK—the English are hated or resented to this day in many corners of the globe for things their ancestors did. It is also a consequence of Germany never having led a global financial hegemony, as has the US. Most people only know the Germans through tourists and automobiles.

 

Trump Hates Germany's Illegal Immigrants

 

But competition isn’t at the root of what Trump dislikes about Germany. No—he takes issue with their leadership because it granted access to refugees from the Middle East, “illegals,” as he calls them. That’s right. Germany, which for the first time in its long history, decided to do something positive about refugees by offering them sanctuary instead of, uh, you know, creating or fucking burning them on an industrial scale, is bad because it internalized the spirit of International Humanitarian Law—that shit we wrote up and forced upon everyone after humanity nearly jumped the rails in WWII.

 

Then, somewhat bizarrely given his hostility, Trump takes exception to Germany’s using Mexican factories to build BMWs Trump would prefer built in the USA.

 

Logical recap: I don’t like you because you’re a competitor, I don’t like you because you accept war refugees into your country, and I don’t like you because you won’t build your cars in my country. There’s a lot of hypocrisy here—self-serving is one thing, that’s ethically troubling, but this, this is beyond.

 

Direct Attacks on European Trade, Cunning Negotiations With Vladimir Putin

 

England (it will be England, if the UK follows through with Brexit and Scotland becomes its own nation) is a friend of the US, for leaving the EU, by Trump's formulation. And when they leave the EU, Trump promises to reward them with immediate trade deals. In this fashion, he hopes to embolden nationalists in France, Germany, and Italy. Paradoxically, if he wants Europe to foot more of the bill for NATO, of course, depriving Europe of trade deals and making them poorer as this strategy seems likely to do if successful would appear to make greater military expenditures less likely, and leave Europe more dependent on the US for military subsidies.

 

And the long-awaited grand master plan to cleverly thwart Vladimir Putin’s ambitions for global domination are… a deal to reduce nuclear weapons, in exchange for which we will lift sanctions on Russia. This may sound good to those people who overlook Russia's track record with neighbors who give up their nuclear weapons, but it's certainly not better than the deal we already have in place, whereby Russia can lift sanctions any time it wants to halt its invasion and occupation of a European neighbor.

 

Trump also makes a joke about Scottish people being cheap, a joke I wouldn't get were it not for a grandfather who died over a decade ago.

 

The only place where Trump’s understanding of the world seems grounded in something other than antiquated stereotype is his appreciation for George W. Bush's monumental error. The second invasion of Iraq will go down in history as the year the USA destabilized the international order. Of course, that doesn’t mean countries like Russia that actively destabilize their neighbors are correct to do so—precisely the contrary.

 

Trump sees himself as remaking the world, and will energetically attempt to do so according to his confused vision. Nebulous and terrifying as his ideas may be to people who don’t want to see World War III in their lifetimes, they nevertheless have the advantage of being new, albeit in a Cthulu shambling ashore after countless millennia kind of way.

 

We learned a lesson from last century’s wars, which ended with the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan. Without binding alliances and guidance from a mostly-disinterested party—the USA—European alliances grow up without us, often centered around Germany and Russia or England, and those alliances then get into a war every 30-40 years. This is the consequence of European being driven by distinct cultures, identities, and interests, a fact that Trump habitually overlooks when arguing for the dismantlement of the EU and NATO.

 

When it comes to nationalism, especially ethnic nationalism of the type Trump clearly prefers, it's a short walk to war, and it's a walk we've taken enough times to know better. Especially as the next global war will likely begin with nukes dropping—and Trump’s doing his utmost to set the conditions we know are necessary to make that happen.

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Adrian Bonenberger

Adrian Bonenberger is an author, essayist, journalist and provocateur. He published his war memoirs, Afghan Post, through The Head and The Hand Press. He believes that logic based on indisputable facts is a good intellectual’s shield, and humor based on an emotional understanding of those facts is the good intellectual’s sword. He has had many adventures over the course of his time on earth, and enjoyed most of them. Past lives include Ernst Junger, “Sir” Philip Sidney, and that guy at the round table Arthur’s Knights were always telling to shut up

3 Comments
  1. There is so much that is beyond comprehension here it isn't funny. I am one who is a firm believer in challenging assumptions and not relying on tradition as the primary reason to keep doing something. With that said, it is abundantly clear that Trump's clear and self-professed disdain for historical and geopolitical study has allowed him to formulate opinions that are public slaps in the face to nation-states which have long been our allies against some very significant threats. Trump approaches everything as a zero-sum game because in the business world it most often is-either my company has market share, or yours. What he clearly lacks understanding in is the benefits of multilateralism that he so clearly disdains, whether talking about the UN, EU, NATO, NAFTA, multinationally-negotiated deals with Iran, etc. Now each of those has their issues, though not to the extent that some claim for political gain or out of ignorance. But they serve to stabilise, to prevent conflict (nor perfextly, as our unjustified invasion of Iraq or the Russian annexation of Crimea have shown). They also serve to, if working well enough, equalise in the long run, a word that is anathema to nationalists but morally the only correct course of action for humanists and globalisers like myself. When Trump threatens tariffs on Germany for building BMWs in Mexico instead of the US, what he is saying is that Mexicans are less deserving of well-paying and high-skill jobs than US citizens, and that Germany as a semi-sovereign nation is not allowed to pursue its own economic interests free of foreign interference. When he is engaging in this behaviour against a critically strategic neighbor (Mexico) and a global one (Germany), he may think he is pressuring them to concede to the US. That is a bold risk and one that another nation (China, for example) will take advantage of. We've already seen the Philippines pivot; perceived disloyalty and hostility from a previously strong ally will in my opinion accelerate that trend and build walls that, unlike his idiotic one across the Mexican border, won't be able to be crossed easily once erected.

     

    MB

  2. A factor here, I believe, is that Germany's assault on Russia in World War II, has not been forgotten by the Russians.   I am inclined to think that Russia's great enemy is Germany, and because Trump is a 'friend' of Russia, that Putin's view of danger may become the USA's view of danger.

  3. What's good for Germany (and may Germans disagree with Mercle's immigration policy – she  will loose her re-election bid) is not by definition good for the United States.  Germany's policy may in have a lot to do with holocost guilt and oh how they are guilty but we on the other hand shed lots of blood and spent lots of treasure to defeat the Axis Powers.  Without our aid, France, Poland and Belgium would still be occupied by the Germans.  With the Marshall Plan the United  States spent additional treasure re-building Germany and Japan into the economic giants they are today.  Since the Marshall plan we have insured the freedom of Germany and the rest of Europe thru our ties with  NATO.  We have also forked out  better than 50% of the UN budget for years.  We have paid our humanitarian dues Period.  We owe no one; the chaos & cultural  divide in Europe between the nations citizens and the influx of immigrants is not something I want nor does the electorate.  We need to fix our house first before we invite guests to come live in our back yard.  The people spoke in November.  Elections have results.

    I wish we had taken George Washington's foreign policy advice in his farewell address.  Additionally, I have always supported the Monroe Docterine.  It is time to look after our own affairs first, let Eurpore do as they please and first, last and always look after our own interests.  After decades of adventureism we are barely a superpower anymore. There is no particular "up side" to letting scores of Muslim refugees into the counitry at this time, on the other side there is a lot of  reasons to be cautious.

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