Ever since the G7 summit, president Trump has criticized European leaders harshly. Trump is no Metternich, Disraeli or Kissinger; he is blunt and his comments indecorous. But the pointed criticisms he has made to the Europeans, especial Germany’s Angela Merkel, are not only well deserved, they are long overdue.
Since the beginning of the Cold War a rapacious Soviet foreign policy was kept in check by United States troops stationed primarily in Germany. These troops were often characterized as a “trip wire”, that if engaged by the Russians, would lead to inevitable armed hostilities. The peace was kept due to the deterrent effect of the American strategic nuclear umbrella.
The unconditional and unwavering military commitments made by the United States for the defense of Europe during the Cold War as well as the Marshall Plan, were primarily responsible for Europe’s ability to rebuild their post-war economies. During this period of recovery, Europe ran up trade surpluses with the United States that continued up until the recent G7 meeting.
Trump indelicately informed the spoiled and haughty Europeans that this grotesque imbalance was going to be redressed.
Trump merely asked the Europeans to pay their fair share of military expenditures as members of NATO. Indeed, under the treaty the Europeans were required to pledge a specified amount of their GNP for defensive capabilities; most of them balked, and with the exception of Great Britain, have contributed a pittance. Germany, the economic power house of Europe, was only paying a laughable 1% and simultaneously running trade surpluses with America, while the U.S. taxpayer subsidized its defense capabilities.
Relieved of the mettlesome cost of providing for their own defense, the European, especially Germany, spent enormous sums on lavish social welfare programs that in the end, were indirectly subsidized by U.S. taxpayers.
Despite the collapse of the former Soviet Union, did any previous American president ever ask why U.S. troops are still stationed in Germany long after the fall of the Berlin Wall?
Europe has been drifting away from the United States culturally and economically. Political elites favor consolidation of decision making with European Union bureaucrats in Brussels. Many of the old European countries have willingly ceded their sovereignty for the idea of a common or unified Europe. Merkel has opened her borders to migrants from the Middle East and they have flooded in, unwilling to adopt or assimilate to the cultural and national mores of their host country.
Replacement birth rates in Europe are dangerously low. In short, Europe is dying a slow death; a fate suffered by its own hands.
There is very little substance or commonality left within the Transatlantic alliance. Trump understands this reality and has acted accordingly, reversing decades of counterproductive and unenlightened U.S. foreign policy that had never adopted to the changing geopolitical realities.