“I don’t care about Europe,” declared US President Donald Trump this week during his White House cabinet’s first meeting of the new year.
The American president probably revealed more about the true nature of US-European relations than he intended.
Trump was speaking in the context of American military involvement with Europe, as well as trade and other issues. He was reiterating the tedious mantra that the US is allegedly being “taken advantage of” by European allies by not spending more on their military budgets.
It was the usual rambling, barely articulate fallacy from Trump who portrays the inherent military profligacy of American corporate capitalism not as a destructive vice, but as a supposed virtuous cause of “protection” for allies and the rest of the world. In short, delusional American exceptionalism.
But it was Trump’s bluntly stated contempt for European allies that was notable. In a quip to a question about his reported unpopularity in Europe, the president said he didn’t care what Europeans think. A few seconds later, in a betrayal of his arrant egotistical state of mind, Trump turned around and claimed that he would be popular if he stood in an election in Europe!
Ironically, though, perhaps we should be grateful to Trump for his brash outspokenness. By dissing Europe with such contemptuous disregard, he lays bare the true face of Washington’s relations with the old continent.
Past American presidents have been adept at presenting the transatlantic connection as a putative “strategic partnership” – as most clearly manifested by the US-led NATO military alliance. Trump’s former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who resigned in protest over policies, was of this conventional transatlantic mould. Mattis repeatedly talked up the importance of maintaining strong bonds with allies.
However, decades of transatlantic rhetoric has often served to conceal the real relationship between Washington and Europe. The reality is the Europeans are not partners. They are vassals.
Successive European governments and the European Union have continually permitted their countries to serve as bases for American military forces, including in the past, nuclear weapons pointed at Russia. Those missiles may return to European soil, if the US walks away from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty as it threatens to do under Trump.
The subordinate European governments have also dutifully facilitated American militarism by affording a multilateral pseudo legal cover for Washington’s imperialist wars. For example, European nations sent troops to augment US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq thereby giving criminal genocidal ventures a veneer of legitimacy.
Ironically, in his remarks to his cabinet this week Trump scoffed at European nations for sending “only 100 troops” to Afghanistan and Iraq. He also mentioned Syria, illustrating how rampantly arrogant US criminality is.
So, Trump is berating Europeans for not devoting more of their economic resources to match the American pathological addiction to militarism; for not paying more for US military occupation of European countries; and for not sending more troops to join in American overseas criminal aggressions.
Previous American presidents would be a little more circumspect in disguising Washington’s tyrannical relationship with Europe. But Trump is too self-centered and boorishly transactional in his view. The whole self-indulgent pretense of American chivalry and protection is shredded, albeit unwittingly.
Trump told Europe this week he does not care a jot about the continent and supposed US allies. With such contempt, European nations need to wake up to the reality of charting their own independence from Washington, and in particular pursuing a genuine continental partnership with Russia.
Washington’s arrogance is perhaps most starkly expressed by the Trump administration threatening European states with sanctions if they continue building the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia. Russia is a natural strategic partner for Europe, especially in terms of economical supply of gas and oil fuel.
The issue of energy supply and demand epitomizes so much else about the relation between Europe and Russia, and the US. The latter is something of an imposter and is foisting its selfish interests on others, whether in energy trade or in military affairs. We have also seen this with regard to Trump tearing up the Iran nuclear deal and punishing Europe for upholding that international treaty.
Trump could not have stated the reality of American disregard for European interests any more brazenly. He doesn’t give a fig.
At the end of last year, the European Union voted to renew economic sanctions on Russia for another six months. Those sanctions are based largely on anti-Russian ideological claims made by Washington and its NATO partners over a host of spurious issues, including conflict in Ukraine and the preposterous fantasy of Russia interfering in elections. Again, the vassal position of Europe is revealed by the fact that it is European economies, not the American economy, that have incurred self-defeating damage from the sanctions on Russia.
European governments need to adopt something of Trump’s “America First” policy and begin putting the interests of their people first. Europe must repudiate Washington’s antagonism and militarism towards Russia. Many of the incumbent European governments seem incapable of finding the necessary political will to be independent from Washington. That is partly why there is such a phenomenal rise in popular discontent with the European Union and establishment politicians. The powers-that-be are unresponsive and unrepresentative of popular interests and needs, creating further backlash to the establishment institutions.
Europe needs to stop being a lackey of Washington. After Trump’s blatant contempt this week, Europe has no excuse or justification to continue debasing itself as an American vassal.