Trump’s Trip Was a Catastrophe for U.S.-Europe Relations

Angela Merkel has served formal notice that she will lead the German wandering away from the American alliance.

.. The Soviet Union offered to withdraw the troops that then occupied eastern Germany and to end its rule over the occupied zone. Germany would be reunited under a constitution that allowed the country freedom to choose its own social system. Germany would even be allowed to rebuild its military, and all Germans except those convicted of war crimes would regain their political rights. In return, the Allied troops in western Germany would also be withdrawn—and reunited Germany would be forbidden to join the new NATO alliance.

.. Again and again through the Cold War they would probe for ways to split Germany from the West, and especially from the United States. They probably came closest in the early 1980s, when millions of Germans marched in the streets against NATO nuclear missile deployments

.. it was the George W. Bush-Gerhard Schroeder split over the Iraq war in 2003 that definitively ended German deference to American leadership.

.. Merkel ignored Obama’s pleas to reflate the German economy after the financial crisis of 2008 and the euro crisis of 2010. The Snowden revelations—including exaggerated claims that the United States had tapped Merkel’s ubiquitous personal cellphone—poisoned the mood even more deeply.

.. Since the war, German politics has been founded on two fundamental commitments: to liberalism at home; to Atlanticism abroad.

.. So long as the Germans most hostile to the U.S. alliance espoused various shades of fascism and communism, then the mighty German middle would cling determinedly to the U.S. alliance as a bulwark of stability and liberalism.

.. Polls show that German confidence in the United States, already lowered under Obama, has collapsed under Trump to a level barely better than Putin’s Russia.

.. Join those words to Trump’s ostentatious refusal to endorse NATO’s famous Article 5, the guarantee of mutual defense, at the NATO summit, and it’s hard to imagine that the messaging of Trump’s first trip could have been more perfect for Vladimir Putin if he’d written the script himself.

e Following Trump’s trip, Merkel says Europe can’t rely on U.S. anymore

saying that Europe “really must take our fate into our own hands.”

.. Merkel told a packed Bavarian beer hall rally that the days when Europe could rely on others was “over to a certain extent. This is what I have experienced in the last few days.”

.. it was a clear repudiation of Trump’s tough few days with European leaders, even as she held back from mentioning the U.S. president by name. On Thursday, Trump had tough words for German trade behind closed doors. Hours later, he blasted European leaders at NATO for failing to spend enough on defense, while holding back from offering an unconditional guarantee for European security.

.. Trump – who returned from his nine-day international trip on Saturday – had a different take.

“Just returned from Europe. Trip was a great success for America. Hard work but big results!” Trump wrote on Sunday

.. Trump was far more solicitous toward the autocratic king of Saudi Arabia earlier in the week, telling him and other leaders of Muslim-majority countries – many of them not democratically elected – that he was not “here to lecture.” Days later in Brussels he offered a scathing assessment of Washington’s closest allies, saying they were being “unfair” to American taxpayers.

.. “The belief in shared values has been shattered by the Trump administration,” said Stephan Bierling

.. Merkel has expressed willingness to jolt her nation’s military spending upwards, a first step both to answering American criticism that it falls far short of NATO pledges and to lessening its dependence on the U.S. security blanket. Germany hiked its military spending by $2.2 billion this year, to $41 billion, but it remains far from being able to stand on its own militarily.

How Will Germany Respond to Emmanuel Macron?

In recent years the alliance between France and Germany has fallen into disrepair. German policy-makers have ceased to respect the French point of view, because of the weakness of both the French economy and of its outgoing president.

.. Germany wants more fiscal discipline and new mechanisms to make countries like France and Italy engage in painful structural economic reform, while France wants common instruments such as ‘eurobonds’ and steps towards a transfer union.

.. lowering the state’s share of economic output (currently 55 per cent of GDP)

.. Those close to Angela Merkel and finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble doubt that Macron will achieve a great deal in the short term. These Christian Democrats are wary of his Keynesian thinking

.. Yet the conservatism of Germany’s voters and politicians makes it unlikely that Macron will get very far in redesigning eurozone governance, at least in the short term.

The Global Effort to Flatter Ivanka

the achingly obvious oddity of deciding that Trump, whose experience on the public stage largely consists of marketing her clothing and jewelry lines, and her efforts to get her father, Donald Trump, elected, was qualified to sit between Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, and Chrystia Freeland, the Foreign Minister of Canada.

.. maybe the make-believe about Ivanka coming up with world-changing ideas is harmless, if it means that her father will look kindly on the World Bank—although a report, this week, in the Washington Post about the conditions in a Chinese factory run by the contractor who makes her brand’s clothes (extremely low wages and long hours) does not quite fit into the picture.

.. He’s been a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive in the new reality of a duelling—”

When asked, more specifically, how she advised him, she said, “It’s been an ongoing discussion I’ve had with my father most of my adult life, and we’re very aligned in many, many areas. And that’s why he’s encouraged me to fully lean into this opportunity and come into the White House and be by his side.” The implication was that nepotism was one of her father’s virtues, and proof of his good character.

.. when NBC News asked her about admitting Syrian refugees to the United States, she said that it should be “part of the discussion, but that’s not going to be enough in and of itself.” The resulting headlines suggested that this constituted a break with her father. But how, exactly? Refugees are “part of the discussion” when he rails against them; and “not going to be enough” could just as easily refer to what the President sees as the need for “extreme vetting,” or letting in only Christians. She referred, for a second time, to the areas “in which I’m fully aligned with my father—which are many.” “Many” could mean anything,

.. Foreign countries and companies might appreciate the idea that they can more easily handle Donald Trump if they lavish his daughter with attention; this is a common enough practice when dealing with authoritarian governments.

Theresa May’s Empty Brexit Promises

She also said that she was prepared to walk away from the negotiations if Britain didn’t get what it wanted, in which case the country would crash out of the E.U. with no agreement at all. She said “no deal” was preferable to “a bad deal for Britain.” That language went over well with the Daily Mail and the Sun, but it really amounted to the Prime Minister putting a gun to her head and threatening to shoot. As a negotiating ploy, it failed miserably.

The leaders of the E.U., meanwhile, want to discourage other member countries from following the U.K.’s example, and appear increasingly determined to impose a harsh deal on London.

.. Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, was asked if there was any leeway to reach a friendly arrangement with Britain. “Some things are not for sale,” she said, indicating that the U.K. would not receive any concessions that undermined the free movement of goods and people within the E.U.

Could Deutsche Bank Collapse?

The German bank’s shares reached historic lows this week after a $14 billion settlement request by the U.S.

.. The International Monetary Fund said in June: “Deutsche Bank appears to be the most important net contributor to systemic risks” in the global market.

.. Lehman had $639 billion in assets when it collapsed, and it’s failure is attributed as the dirge that announced the global financial crisis. It was this lesson that led Deutsche Bank investors to believe that if the worst should happen, Germany would bail the Deutsche Bank out. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly said there would be no bailout, no matter what

.. Market Watch wrote that if Merkel kept her word, it meant she “has no idea how the financial markets work, and no appreciation of how much damage the unfolding Deutsche crisis is already doing to the markets and the eurozone economy.” On the other hand, a bailout has been called political suicide for Merkel and would likely ruin her party’s chance in next year’s election.

.. Those who do not believe the sky is falling have said a more likely scenario is that Berlin will pressure the U.S. to lower the $14 billion settlement request. Even without political intervention, that seemed already to be the outcome.

Why Britain Left

The June 23 vote represents a huge popular rebellion against a future in which British people feel increasingly crowded within—and even crowded out of—their own country.

.. U.S. policymakers have long worried about the statism and anti-Americanism likely to prevail in an EU from which Britain is absent.

.. The force that turned Britain away from the European Union was the greatest mass migration since perhaps the Anglo-Saxon invasion. 630,000 foreign nationals settled in Britain in the single year 2015.

.. Is it possible that leaders and elites had it all wrong? If they’re to save the open global economy, maybe they need to protect their populations better against globalization’s most unwelcome consequences—of which mass migration is the very least welcome of them all?

.. If any one person drove the United Kingdom out of the European Union, it was Angela Merkel, and her impulsive solo decision in the summer of 2015 to throw open Germany—and then all Europe—to 1.1 million Middle Eastern and North African migrants

..  That U.S. citizens might have different interests—and that it is the interests of citizens that deserve the highest attention of officials elected by those citizens—went unsaid and apparently unconsidered.