The United States and Europe used to look very much like Siamese twins with one surname “the West”, until Trump came in with his own ideas. When you talked about The West in global geopolitics everyone knew you primarily meant The US and its European allies.
The establishment in both sides are mostly white Caucasian males. But with the emergence in 2016 of a White Caucasian male of German descent, Donald Trump as POTUS, the US-Europe relationship seems to have be that of olf friends whose friendship has faded off, leaving memories and mechanical rituals but no real soul.
The deepest kernel of the Transatlantic relationship used to be the US-UK relationship.
In that relationship, Washington was the power capital, while London with the British monarch was the cultural capital. In spite of the US distancing itself from the idea of monarchy during its war of inependence, it is no hidden secret that the main Anglo Saxon establishment in the US see the British monarch as their cultural figurehead.
When President George Bush II traveled to Britain on a state visit and was making a speech at the state banquet, he made a statement he afterward felt that Britain’s Queen Elizabeth would disapprove of. Realizing this, he tried to make amends in his next statement. And his words were striking. He told the audience that the Queen had just given him a look only a mother could give her son. For many international watchers, the import of that statement was not lost… Hear is the most powerful leader of the most powerful AngloSaxon founded nation likenening the matriachal head of the.Anglo Saxon Britanic nation, a nation that self admittedly has passed its prime , to his mother. Selah.
The sentiment President Bush voiced out that day is the same sentiment that millions of Americans feel toward the British monarch, even though they are fiercely republican and not in the British Commonwealth.
To a lesser, but still potent degree, the rest of Europe has been known to have a similar bond of brotherhood with the US. That’s why it was so easy for the US to roll out its Marshal Plan to rebuild Europe after its destruction in WWII.
But with the coming of Donald Trump, Europe is still pinching itself to see if its currently poor relationship with the US is just a bad dream or if it’s real.
They just can’t believe that they can have a US president who doesn’t take them as part of a governing council of world leadership.
For instance, the extremely initmate relationship that used to exist between the US and Britain has since vanished. Yes, the US still assists Britain with maintaining its nuclear arsenal. But you need to take a look at Donald Trump’s tweets openly attacking Britain’s Theresa May to know that the once hot US-UK relationship has turned very lukewarm.
The Trump-May relationship is the opposite of the Reagan-Tatcher relationship or the Bush-Blair relationship.
Angela Merkel of Germany has not been spared her own share of attacks by the outspoken Trump. He has not let their common German roots stop him from threatening Europe with painful increases in steel tariffs.
Trump’s closest friend in Europe, France’s Macron had a really competitive first handshake with President Trump.
He later decided to visit the United States, boasting that he had Trump’s ear and could influence US foreign policy on Iran. But Trump’s destruction of the Iran deal seems to have belied all that.
As if for emphasis, Trump included indirect sanctions that have caused European companies billions of dollars in lost revenue. This is while at the same time vowing to help a Chinese company minimise job losses due to the same Iran deal destruction. Europe is in shock and doesn’t quite know what to do. They never expected Trump to become president and so, his election blindsided them. And now both sides diverge.
To find the root of this glacial separation Europe needs to take a closer look at Donal Trump’s worldview. The diplomatic establishment on both sides of the Atlantic view the US and Europe as two sides of the same coin. To them, while the US is the country, Europe is the continent. To them, North America as a continent containing just 2 countries was just a mere geographical expression. To them, the real continent is a mythical super-continent composed of North America and Europe called The West with the US as its metropolitan region.
But to the populist strongman Donald Trump, it is America First, Second and Third. To him, the continent-sized United States is not just a country, but its own continent. Trump sees himself as the leader of that continent and doesn’t care what Europe has to say.
Where other US leaders used to look to Europe as an important echo chamber for their world view, Trump looks to Middle America and New York for the same thing. He also looks to himself because he is supremely sure that he embodies the yearnings of Middle America.
For Europe to begin to understand Trump. For Europe not to be continually wrongfooted in Trumpian Era, they need to decouple the idea of the West as a single super continent till at least 2024.
They need to see Trump not as a European descendant who would fall easily to pan European appeals, but instead as the Emperor of an independent subcontinent whose strategic goals and values must be studied if they are to be sucessfully grappled with.