Trump just got back from the EU after having visited Brussels for a NATO summit and Sicily for a G7 one, but instead of being the warm occasion that usually marks most Presidents’ first European tour, this one was characterized by Trump’s trademarked unrestrained frankness in calling for the US’ allies to pay their fair share to NATO. Not only that, but the President revived his criticism of Germany by slamming the country as “bad, very bad” because of its trade surplus with the US during a meeting with EU leaders, according to remarks quoted by Der Spiegel.
Once Trump left Europe and went back home, however, Merkel took the chance to deliver her own commentary on the matter, telling a crowded beer hall in Munich that:
“The times when we could fully rely on others are to some extent over — I experienced that in the last few days. We Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands.”
Her words reverberated across the world because they were interpreted as Merkel lashing out at Trump for his treatment of the US’ European allies. Observers immediately pondered whether this was a turning point in Germany’s traditional relations with the US, and their thoughts appeared to be confirmed when Trump struck back with – what else – a tweet remarking that: “We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military. Very bad for U.S. This will change”
While the US indisputably has a lot of leverage over Germany, the Federal Republic has recently shown that it has a few non-Western backup plans in case this feud goes further than expected, as evidenced by the back-to-back visits of Indian Prime Minister Modi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to Berlin. If Germany’s longstanding relations with the US go kaput, then the EU leader might seek to rebalance its global position through strengthened partnerships with India and China.
We discussed this issue in further depth with Joe Lauria is journalist who has worked nearly three decades in mainstream media for The Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe and the Sunday Times of London among other publications. He is the author of the new book How I Lost By Hillary Clinton, with the foreword by Julian Assange. We are also joined by Petri Krohn, Finnish political commentator.
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