The Fallout From Trump's European Tour
On the foreign front, Trump’s admirers are trying to make the case that his whirlwind trip to the Middle East, the Vatican, and the G-7 conference were triumphs in the remaking of American foreign policy. They argue that it was a clear example of how his “America First” policy protects the national interest, forces European countries to take on more responsibility for their own defense, and moves the United States away from engaging in the dangerous nation-building of past administrations.
There is, however, major disagreement over how President Trump’s foreign trip was viewed in Western Europe. According to Lt. Gen. McMaster, the national security adviser, and Gary D. Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, it couldn’t have gone better. In an op-ed in The Wall St. Journal, they argued:
This historic trip represented a strategic shift for the United States. America First signals the restoration of American leadership and our government’s traditional role overseas -- to use the diplomatic, economic and military resources of the U.S. to enhance American security, promote American prosperity, and extend American influence around the world.
Trump’s trip might have “represented a strategic shift for the United States,” but whether it will lead to the restoration of American leadership and our traditional role oversees is debatable. Instead, Trump seems to have left the impression among our European allies that they might not be able to count on the United States.
Most dangerous are Trump’s moves to attack one of America’s most important allies, Germany. Since Germany has been a bulwark of NATO and the global alliance of Western nations since the Cold War, Trump’s comments about how Germany is “bad” because it exports too many cars to the United States were not only foolish, but wrong. Trump evidently has no awareness that as many German cars are built in the United States as are imported. The president also failed to mention the U.S. commitment to Article 5, the NATO clause allowing for mutual defense. His omission shocked the European representatives.
When Trump met with the Saudis, he failed to even give a perfunctory statement that the U.S. hoped for improvement in its human rights record, emphasizing instead the country’s creation of a new center for fighting terrorism. Trump left any sharp criticisms for Iran, which he condemned for its role in fostering international terrorism. The condemnation came off as hypocritical, since Saudi Arabia is as oppressive a regime as the one in Iran, and it has been responsible, through the funding of Wahhabi mosques around the world, of creating as many jihadists as any other Islamic nation. It was Saudis, as we all know, and not Iranians, who brought down the Twin Towers on 9/11.