When U.S. Vice President Mike Pence spoke at this year’s Munich Security Conference, he seemed to speak not to the audience facing him—the leaders and representatives of important U.S. allies around the world. Rather, his “America first” rhetoric seemed like a courtesy for his boss in the White House, U.S. President Donald Trump.
Pence’s performance in Munich was symptomatic of the state of transatlantic relations. At the highest administrative level, U.S. rhetoric toward Europe alternates between silence and verbal assault. Constructive dialogue, cooperation on common interests, and a commitment to shared values are all on the retreat.
The damage need not be permanent, but simply waiting out the current U.S. administration will not do. The repercussions of Trump’s tenure will outlast his term of office, and the United States will be a different country for it. To save the transatlantic alliance, both sides must make a significant effort. The United States needs to understand that to blame and threaten allies while withdrawing from multilateral agreements provides no basis for cooperation and trust. Europe, for its part, needs to develop a common foreign and security policy, and that will, at the very