It has recently become more obvious that the European Union cannot trust the United States, in which sentiment it has much in common with other groupings and individual nations around the world. The Trump policy debacle over Turkey and Syria is a significant sign in the expansion of general distrust.
The first round in Washington’s latest erratic performance on the international stage was the seeming decision by Trump to abandon the Kurds who have been strongly supporting the US against the extremist barbarians of Islamic State. No matter what anyone might think of the rights or wrongs of Kurdish separatism, the fact remains that they were staunch allies of Washington. But they are also enemies of Turkey. When the White House announced that Trump would not prevent or disagree with a Turkish operation to expel Kurdish forces from the Turkey-Syria border region the Kurds considered it was now open day for their slaughter — as did Europe.
Trump’s White House statement was “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria. The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation…” President Erdogan had told Trump about it being “long-planned” and he naturally thought he had US endorsement for whatever he wanted to do.
Then Trump appeared to back-pedal by tweeting “As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!). They must, with Europe and others, watch over the captured ISIS fighters and families. The US has done far more than anyone could have ever expected, including the capture of 100% of the ISIS Caliphate. It is time now for others in the region, some of great wealth, to protect their own territory. THE USA IS GREAT!”
While Britain, France and Germany disapprove of Turkey’s assault, there is no indication of agreement with many of Trump’s semi-coherent twitter diatribes, which is the major factor that European nations should be considering.
It is obvious in European capitals (and around the world) that Trump America, the arrogant “USA is Great” of modern times, is far from consistent in its policies regarding trade, military operations, alliances or indeed any facet of international relations. Before taking action against perceived enemies, Washington rarely if ever consults with nations or groupings that have reason to regard themselves as relevant to the US decision.
The case of the Kurds is one of the more egregious examples of Trump’s go-it-alone fixation, as exemplified by his tweet of October 7 stating he intends to “bring our soldiers home” from regions in which they are engaged in warfare, such as Syria, whereupon, after his unilateral action, “Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out.”
Successive America governments have engaged in massive military operations throughout the Middle East in their flailing determination to prove to the electorate that they are ensuring safety for the “Homeland” — that magic word that persuades all Americans that if they do not support all official activities connected with their native land, they are being unpatriotic and disloyal to The Flag.
At the moment the US is headed by an extremely strange person whose erratic behaviour is dangerous for his country and the world. No trust can be placed in the man who on October 9 tweeted that “in no way have we Abandoned the Kurds, who are special people and wonderful fighters” and then declared disjointedly that “they didn’t help us in the Second World War. They didn’t help us with Normandy, as an example.”
His comments about Europe as a grouping and regarding individual nations of the European Union have been similarly inconsistent and often even illogical.
A year ago Trump told NBC’s ‘Sixty Minutes’ that “The European Union was formed in order to take advantage of us on trade, and that’s what they’ve done.” It is verging on the incredible that the leader of the world’s richest and most influential country should make such a bizarre public announcement, which displays not only profound ignorance of history but reveals spiteful maliciousness. In July the US Congressional Research Service noted that the EU is the United States’ largest trading and investment partner and that “ties have broadened as the EU’s membership has grown, and have deepened with the growth of global supply chains, trade in services, and cross-border investment.”
Yet Trump is intent on insulting Europe and when on July 14 (French National Day) he was asked by NBC News who he thought to be America’s greatest enemy declared “I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us is in trade. Now, you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe.” He went on in a rambling fashion, but left no doubt about his stance regarding the EU.
In July the French government legislated that US digital services’ companies should pay a modest tax — just three percent — on the vast profits they make from France. To most people this is reasonable action by a sovereign government, but Trump tweeted that “France just put a digital tax on our great American technology companies. If anybody taxes them, it should be their home Country, the USA. We will announce a substantial reciprocal action on Macron’s foolishness shortly. I’ve always said American wine is better than French wine!”
Until the arrival of Trump on the international political scene it had been practice for world leaders to refrain from personal insult but, while most of them continue to observe politeness, Trump loses no opportunity to abuse and disparage those he regards as opponents. At last July’s NATO summit in Brussels he went out of his way to attack “you, Angela” saying that Germany is “totally controlled by Russia” because of their mutually beneficial agreement concerning the Nord Stream pipeline. He tweeted “What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy? The US is paying for Europe’s protection, then loses billions on Trade.” In June, in an unprecedented instance of interference in the domestic politics of an ally he tweeted “The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition. Crime in Germany is way up. Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!”
Given Trump’s bizarre behaviour concerning the Turkey-Kurd debacle, when he failed to consult European allies about his intentions, together with his repetitive pronouncements assailing the EU and its leaders, collectively and individually, for their level-headed governance and supposed weaknesses, it is surprising that Europe is standing by Washington to the extent it seems to be doing.
It must be faced that the Trump impeachment initiative is likely to fail, and that he could be re-elected next year by the millions of Americans who actually admire his personality, his disjointed and incoherent tirades, and his constant repetition that “The USA is Great”.
Europe must plan for its economic future, and its considerations should include the likelihood of a further Trump presidency and, therefore, further economic confrontation and other erratic behaviour. The solution is not to formally cut ties with Washington but to foster and develop economic links with Russia, its obvious and geographically convenient partner for the future. The United States can no longer be trusted by the EU — but Russia beckons.