Uh, oh. If German Chancellor Angela Merkel thought she could change Trump’s mind by basically threatening him, well, I guess the U.S. president just proved her wrong:
We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military. Very bad for U.S. This will change
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2017
First of all, Trump writes, the US has “a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany,” which has been one of his main complaints for months (if not years). It doesn’t come as a surprise that he’s bothered by the deficit, but it must scare Mutti Merkel brainless nonetheless; if Trump takes economic action against her, Germany’s economy — which is nicknamed “the engine of Europe” — is set to suffer.
But that’s not all. Trump also repeats his criticism of Germany’s lack of NATO-spending: “They pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military,” he writes, adding that both combined are “very bad” for the U.S. and that “this will change.”
On this one too, Merkel can’t argue the facts. Germany and other European countries are indeed not spending nearly enough on their militaries and NATO. For all Merkel’s bluster, Germany is still dependent on the United States for its security. If Trump would pull back his forces from the European mainland, Europe would immediately be in trouble — perhaps not from internal wars, but most definitely from adventurers on its borders (read: Putin).
And yet… there is hope. Trump has clearly embarked on a collision course with Germany, but it’s within Merkel’s power to change that instantly. All she needs to do is to a) talk trade with Trump and b) finally do what Germany has promised to do for decades: invest in its military so it can eventually take care of itself.