Donald Trump’s attempts to “Make America Great” again have backfired in the international community. Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, has stated Europe can no longer rely on the US under its current leadership.
“We Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands,” Merkel said, emphasizing though, the need for friendly relations with Russia, the UK and 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.”
Merkel referred to Brexit and the current US presidency as uncertain. The recent and somewhat hostile meeting in Brussels, where Trump told NATO members to contribute more and ‘pay up’ has prompted the speech given by the Chancellor. It also followed Trump’s announcement that he needed more time to consider the Paris climate deal signed in 2015, a legally binding contract between the 195 nations that agreed to curb carbon emissions.
Donald Trump has gone on record, calling global warming a “hoax.”
Although the climate agreement set the tone for Chancellor Merkel’s speech, Trump’s antagonistic approach to NATO members last week also resounded with French President Emmanuel Macron. The moment of truth was caught on camera when the young president, 3 decades junior to Trump, refused to let go of their handshake, even after Trump’s initial attempts to break the grip.
“My handshake with him was not innocent, it was not the alpha and the omega of politics but a moment of truth,” Macron explained.
Macron then addressed the cameras in French, despite the American president’s ignorance in the language, leaving Trump hanging for an interpretation that didn’t come. In sharp contrast, Macron spoke in English for Theresa May and offered French cooperation in light of the Manchester terror attack.
“We must show that we won’t make small concessions, even symbolic ones, but we also shouldn’t over-hype things,” the French President continued.
Macron, on greeting the NATO summit members, also deliberately swerved from the American president to embrace Chancellor Merkel in a warm hug before shaking the hands of European members first, snubbing the American president and sending a strong European message to Americans.
Trump’s call for European nations to meet the United States’ expenditure on NATO ignores the fact that the US budget on the military has inflated to $611 billion, a figure no European nation can match without consequences to its economy. Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, the Netherlands and Romania, relatively poorer nations, agreed in 2015 to increase their spending within a 10-year time frame. However, UK, Germany, Canada, Italy, Hungary and Bulgaria announced in 2015 their intentions to cut defense spending, with the UK on course to have its lowest percentage of GDP on defense in 25 years.
What is important to point out is that no NATO country is in arrears to the United States and that the 2 percent rule is only a guideline – it is not legally binding and was never endorsed by heads of state.
“Europe may owe itself; it certainly owes nothing to the U.S.,” said Ivo Daalder, a former ambassador to NATO.
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