Trumpism, the death of American leadership, and the victory of Putinism
I wasn't going to write anything this weekend, but upon perusing Twitter upon awakening, I saw this blaring headline:
Angela Merkel says Germany can no longer rely on Donald Trump's America: 'We Europeans must take our destiny into our own hands'
The article in the Independent continues:
Angela Merkel has suggested Germany and Europe can no longer rely on the US under Donald Trump.
Speaking at a campaign event held in a Bavarian beer tent, the German Chancellor emphasised the need for friendly relations with the US, Britain and Russia, but added: “We Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands.”
Ms Merkel said that as the traditional western alliance is threatened by the new US presidency and Brexit, “the times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over, as I have experienced in the past few days.”
The de facto leader of the European Union is waving the white flag. The United States, guarantor of European peace for 75 years, is now no longer a reliable ally. US foreign policy on the Continent is in ruins. All because Donald Trump is at the head of the US government.
I don't think I can overstress how momentous a shift this is. German policy since 1949 has been to rely on the US as the guarantor that it wouldn't attempt hegemony on the Continent again, as it had in 1914 and 1939. That's out the window. Now a "United States of Europe" might be the only viable course for the EU to defend its own interests in the face of a rapacious Russia and a disinterested United States. And Germany, as the continent's economic engine, would achieve by default what it failed to achieve in the 20th century by war.
This is, without a doubt, a nightmare for US foreign policy. Its key alliance is looking beyond the era of American dominance. And if the US' oldest alliance frays, every other relationship which this country has is on the chopping block.
This, of course, is the dream of Russian policy and Putin's dearest wish: to neuter the US and bring Russia back into prominence. He shouldn't crow too much, however; a world devoid of US leadership isn't safer, but even more dangerous. If the US' nuclear guarantee is no longer in effect, expect other countries to pursue nuclear weapons programs to defend against Russian advances. A Japan which can no longer depend on the US might ditch its peace constitution, and eye the occupied Kurile Islands with a revanchist eye.
And don't think that getting rid of Trump will resolve the Pandora's box he unleashed. No.
Once a state is shown to be incompetent enough to elect a man like Trump, all trust in that state and its electorate is smashed. If Trump can be elected once, why not again? If American democracy is so fragile that it can put someone like Trump in power, what's not to say that someone worse can take his place? What Trump's election has done is more consequential than what we're admitting in our obsession with Russiagate: his election shows that the American electorate is not to be trusted with world leadership, because it gave the reins of world power to such a feckless, unprepared, uninterested moron. That is not trust which can be regained with an election cycle. This is an existential sucker punch which we gave ourselves.
The Trump electorate, because it is composed of people who know nothing of these things, did the one thing which is the opposite of "making America great again". No one trusts us any longer. It has done what Russia and China have been trying to do for decades: Destroy the international order. The next flare-up between major powers will be on its head. However, it won't care; "Survivor" will be on that night.
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