The Opening of the North Korean Mind
Pyongyang Versus the Digital Underground
Advice for Young Muslims
How to Survive in an Age of Extremism and Islamophobia
The Jacksonian Revolt
American Populism and the Liberal Order
How America Lost Faith in Expertise
And Why That's a Giant Problem
Asia's Other Revisionist Power
Why U.S. Grand Strategy Unnerves China
A Vision of Trump at War
How the President Could Stumble Into Conflict
Intelligence and the Presidency
How to Get It Right
Where to Go From Here
Rebooting American Foreign Policy
The Korean Missile Crisis
Why Deterrence Is Still the Best Option
When Stalin Faced Hitler
Who Fooled Whom?
How to Counter Fake News
Technology Can Help Distinguish Fact From Fiction
Trump Takes Aim at the European Union
Why the EU Won't Unify In Response
Good Foreign Policy Is Invisible
Why Boring Is Better
The Coming Islamic Culture War
What the Middle East's Internet Boom Means for Gay Rights, and More
The Women Who Escaped ISIS
From Abused to Accused
Who Is Narendra Modi?
The Two Sides of India's Prime Minister
Democracy Is Not Dying
Seeing Through the Doom and Gloom
How a Nazi Massacre Came to Be Remembered as Its Opposite
Is Putin Losing Control of Russia's Conservative Nationalists?
What the Matilda Controversy Reveals About His Rule
China's Return to Strongman Rule
The Meaning of Xi Jinping's Power Grab
A few days before his inauguration as U.S. president, Donald J. Trump took aim at the United States’ most important allies. In an interview co-published by Germany’s Bild and The Times of London on January 15, Trump disparaged NATO as “obsolete,” chastised German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her government’s openness to asylum seekers, and seemed to advocate the breakup of the European Union, calling it a “vehicle for Germany.” Those comments came two days after a different bombshell: on January 13, Anthony Gardner, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to the EU, said that officials from Trump’s transition team had called EU leaders and asked which EU country would be “leaving next.”
Trump’s words marked an extraordinary departure from the norms of the postwar transatlantic relationship. For decades, the United States and the EU have been each other’s most important foreign policy partners, tightly bound by a thicket of alliances and institutions, joined at the hip in promoting liberal democratic values, and trading and investing with each other at unprecedented levels. Particularly in light of the uncertainties surrounding the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU, Trump’s comments shocked many observers who support the transatlantic relationship and the broader liberal order it guarantees.
Might Trump’s attacks backfire by encouraging EU countries to unify against him? A number of European leaders have suggested as much. “We Europeans have our fate in our own hands,” Merkel said on January 16, in a forceful response to Trump’s comments. Others have echoed French Finance Minister Michel Sapin, who said on January 17 that “the more [Trump] makes this sort of statement, the more Europeans close ranks.”
Unfortunately for supporters of the European project, Sapin’s prediction is unlikely to hold. Instead of unifying the EU, Trump’s apparent Euroskepticism may undermine it by stirring up popular anger against internal enemies: the faceless EU technocrats and disdained national elites who seem disconnected from the day-to-day problems of most European people.
Peter Macdiarmid /
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