In his interview to the German outlet Handelsblatt, ex-Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who has been recently lecturing in the US, voiced what he considered the key reason why Donald Trump and the Republicans held their positions in the recent midterm elections.
"Trump exists by keeping the country awake with his emotions every day," Gabriel said.
According to Gabriel, the incumbent US president has prompted him to write a book, which he is now promoting. In it, he brands the US ‘a rogue superpower’, rants about the alienation of Russia from the West and addresses Chinese claims to world power. The German political heavyweight views Trump with a mixture of fascination and fright.
“That one goes right through everything that has seemed right so far. He brutally follows through on what he said he would before the election despite all theories,” Gabriel said, describing Trump’s style in the interview.
The former deputy chancellor suggested that the Democrats’ winning the majority in the house could actually play out well for Trump, who has the perfect starting position following the midterm elections and could always point to the Democrats if he fails to enforce his laws.
“He thinks only in terms of friend-or-foe, he only knows confrontation,” he said.
Gabriel stated that this approach has had an impact on US foreign policy, especially with respect to China, claiming that ‘for Trump, the world is an arena, a battleground." He pointed out that the US had already alienated from the world to some degree under Barack Obama, and China, Turkey, Iran and Russia are trying to fill the vacuum.
"These are essentially revisionist forces that want to change the world order," explained Gabriel, saying they strive for multilateralism rather than global treaties.
Gabriel called on Germany to take a sober approach to China, which he described as the only country that has a great geopolitical idea, with the Silk Road.
"I would rather blame ourselves that we have no strategy," Gabriel said, noting that Germany and Europe were far behind China in the investment race and praising China for its artificial intelligence (AI) ambitions and plans to earmark $150 billion dollars, compared to Germany’s plan to spend three billion euros.
“We did not recognize the technological trends," Gabriel admitted, saying that Europe has to respond to China, and that otherwise, historians would at some point look back at this time as "Europe’s farewell to world history".
EU-US relations have been on a rocky path since Donald Trump was sworn in, as the trans-Atlantic partners have clashed on a number of issues, including the growing row over tariffs, Donald Trump’s repeated rants about insufficient military spending, the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and its intention to leave the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), as Washington has accused Russia of violating it numerous times, while Moscow rejected the allegations.