The Decline of U.S. and E.U. Relations By Joshua Turner
The United States and Europe have been steadfast partners since the end of World War II. America helped rebuild Europe through the Marshall Plan while The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has enabled America to better defend its allies and contain its enemies.
This relationship remains beneficial for both sides. The U.S. and E.U. traded $699 billion goods in 2015 and countries like France and the United Kingdom have been important partners in fighting terrorism. Relations under Barack Obama reached a modern high as President Obama garnered even greater approval ratings in much of Europe than at home.
A lot has changed in only two weeks. The Trump administration has contributed to a near complete reversal of the U.S. relationship with Europe. This was evident in the recent declaration by The U.K. Speaker of Parliament that President Trump should not address the House of Commons when he visits the U.K. later this year.
Why has President Trump elicited such a strong response from European allies?
First, there is Trump’s ambivalence towards NATO. The continent is rattled by his willingness to use NATO as a bargaining chip to try and coerce European countries to spend more of their budgets on defense. Secretary of Defense Mattis public defense of NATO can only go so far when the president has called it "obsolete."
Second, Trump’s continued friendliness towards Russia concerns many European leaders. Putin has been seeking to undermine both NATO and the European Union throughout his tenure while being openly hostile in invading Ukraine, sabotaging elections, and thwarting Western efforts in Syria. Trump has praised Putin like no other American and seems willing to allow Russia an unprecedented sphere of influence over Eastern Europe.
Finally, President Trump’s is overtly critical of the very idea of the European Union. He was a vociferous supporter of Brexit, has called the EU a "vehicle for German" dominance of the continent, and complained about his own business dealings there.
In response, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, has labeled the U.S. an existential danger to the EU along with Russia, China, and radical Islamic terrorism. This shocking proclamation shows just how bad the relationship has gotten in a short amount of time.
Trump’s attitude towards Europe should shock no one. His ideology of "America First" and flawed notions of national sovereignty directly conflict with supranational bodies like the European Union.
At the same time, Europe has long been the United States’ most important economic, military, and cultural ally. This relationship is responsible for supporting a stable world order over seven decades that has benefited both sides.
If Europe continues to lose faith in important institutions like NATO and further doubts the United States commitment to the trans-Atlantic relationship, the world will become a far more unstable and dangerous place to its detriment as well as ours.
Joshua Turner is the creator and editor of The Hitch