June 3, 2017

Germany: ‘bad, very bad.’ Trump tweet.

France’s brainy new president, Emmanuel Macron, said it was too bad that Donald Trump was not part of the Enlightenment. Few Americans would have understood what he meant but Europeans certainly did.

The Enlightenment was the glorious epoch in the mid 1700 and 1800’s that gave birth to modern science, philosophy, reason, and literature. Among its notables were Voltaire, Rousseau, Kant, Diderot, Hume, and Adam Smith and Benjamin Franklin.

This was by far the most delicate criticism of Trump that one hears in Europe, where he is widely regarded with contempt and revulsion. As for Trump’s business-heavy cabinet, one immediately thinks of Oscar Wilde’s acid line about men who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Europe is in a rage over Trump’s rejection of the Paris Climate Accord, an act that also caused worldwide shock and dismay. It will please American coal miners, religious fundamentalists and those who share Trump’s view that it’s all a Red Chinese hoax.

Meanwhile, Trump’s adversarial relations with Europe have shaken the NATO alliance and changed Germany’s view of transatlantic relations. After last week’s testy NATO summit and Trump’s tweeted attacks on Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel lashed out, ‘“The times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over.”

Merkel is a cautious, ultra-bland technocrat whose speeches are usually sleep-inducing. For her to drop such a bombshell shows how poor US-German relations have become. This fracture between Berlin and Washington has been a long time in coming but is still startling. Germans are fed up with being treated like vassals and, let us not forget, still semi-occupied by US armed forces.

Adding to the tensions, Trump has been hammering Europe’s NATO members over their skimpy contributions to the alliance and its arms programs. But here is another example of Trump’s poor understanding of world affairs.

NATO is not a business partnership. The alliance, founded in 1949, was designed to shore up war-battered Europe and form a united front against the very real threat of Soviet invasion. Today, the very successful NATO alliance, 70% funded by the US, remains the most concrete expression of America’s geopolitical domination of western Europe.

As the recently deceased thinker Zbigniew Brezezinski aptly put it to me, Europe provides strategic ‘stepping-stones’ to the expansion of US influence into Eurasia through NATO. The alliance is not an equal partnership, it’s the primary tool for enforcing US power in Europe.

Now that the Soviet Union is gone, there is no real military threat to Europe. A majority of Europe’s tax-payers don’t want to pay more to reinforce NATO. Or worse, see it become a sort of foreign legion for the US to use in its imperial ventures in the Mideast, Africa and West Asia.

Germany was dragooned by the US into sending troops to Afghanistan, but over the protests of most of its citizens and other Europeans. Canada faces a similar problem. As the late German defense minister, Franz Josef Strauss so colorfully put it, ‘we won’t be spear carriers for America’s atomic knights.’

I’ve witnessed a powerful up swell of nationalism in Germany, including growing pride in Germany’s soldiers during World War II. But every sign of pride in Germany is met by a torrent of media frenzy about the Nazis and their crimes. In this way, Germany is kept on the defensive and quiescent. But this may now be changing as Trump & Co lambastes Germany and Germans. It’s very dangerous, as history shows, to strong-arm Germans.

Trump even blasts German cars. He would better reserve his wrath for the manufacturers of America’s mediocre quality cars.

What really galls Trump about Europe is that it has too many Muslims. He actually accused Angel Merkel of ‘wrecking’ Europe because she allowed in Syrian refugees in a praiseworthy humanitarian act. Trump and his alt-right advisors are unlikely to know that 11% of Syrians are Christians of various sorts.

Neither Trump nor his advisors have much interest in or knowledge of Europe. America’s nativist religious voters, 80% of whom support with Trump, see Europe as a wicked, degenerate place filled with drinkers, sexual perverts and pacifists. Europeans laugh at church-going fundamentalist Americans as backwards, superstitious rustics.

Trump is wildly popular in Pittsburgh, as he noted last week, but to much of the rest of the planet he remains a symbol of flat-earth consciousness and the unlovely face of America.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2017

This post is in: France, Germany, USA


  1. The big message from Trump’s Paris speech is that he did not challenge the science of climate change. If Trump truly believed that climate change was a hoax, he would have called the Paris Agreement a complete waste of time. That was certainly his moment to make that statement.

    Instead he left the door open to re-joining the agreement under terms he would find favourable to the USA. By doing so he also left the door open to having his administration clearly endorse the reality of human induced global warming.

    Trump’s speech was as clear an endorsement of climate change science as one could get from someone who ran against it publicly.

    John Meyer

  2. Steve_M. says:

    One error in an otherwise excellent blog. Actually, Trump is not at all “wildly popular” in Pittsburgh. Not only did the voters of Pittsburgh vote for Clinton by a wide margin in 2916, but the mayor of that city has spoken out in favor of the Paris Climate Accord and against Trump’s decision to pull the US out of it.

  3. Mike Smith says:

    It does put another spin on why the US caused the chaos in the Ukraine… maybe to provoke Putin into protecting the pro Russia Ukrainians and turning him into a devil to point at.
    I have noticed a bunch of ” planted ” articles talking about the Russian threat in several European publications lately…. like this one from Spiegel, which strangely enough is usually critical of US policy. Quoting sources such as the Rand Corporation and the Carnegie Foundation really sets off my propaganda alarm lol. http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/how-can-nato-best-address-the-russian-threat-a-1148796-2.html

  4. “Germany: ‘bad, very bad.’ Trump tweet.” or, maybe more correct,
    “Trump: ‘bad, very bad.’ Merkel tweet. ”, and, Angela is likely more correct.
    The der Spiegel’s headlines pretty much sum up the Donald (5 of them attached):
    Donald Trump’s Triumph of Stupidity
    A Turning Point in History – withdrawal from Paris accord
    Trump Wasn’t Only Problem at NATO Summit – Erdogan
    The Man Who Knows Trump’s Voters – Bernie Sanders
    What Was Merkel Thinking? – criticism of the Donald
    Regarding the second item, the Donald’s latest from the Washington Examiner, “President Trump believes that climate is changing and that pollution is playing a part in it, according to United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley.
    Haley’s comments in a sneak peak of an interview to be aired during Sunday’s “State of the Union” on CNN come a few days after President Trump announced that the U.S. will exit the Paris climate accord which seeks to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. That move sparked questions over whether Trump believes in climate change as several top administration officials declined to say if Trump believes in it.”
    I’m really confused now… I no longer have an idea of what an ‘alternative truth’ is…
    You missed a couple of names, but, it was an age of enlightenment… and Macron being the recipient of the Donald’s assaulting ‘handshake’. As kids we used to shake hands, using as firm a grip as we could, with the intent of having the other person ‘give up’. It was a childhood ‘macho’ thing… not an action of a President(?).
    I’m not sure what is going to happen with climate change and the American involvement. They are almost single handedly responsible, having the highest per capita output of CO2, and then withdrawing because it will affect their bottom line.
    The ‘Original People’ had the concept that you did not own the earth, but, borrowed it from your grandchildren. We are leaving them a real mess. It will be interesting if the Anthropocene epoch is the time of the last great extinction of all earth critters. Any modern intelligent nation should be shocked at his antics.
    NATO and the UN need serious ‘fixing’; they are broken. Members of either group have to re-write their charter stipulating that each member has an equal vote, that there is no VETO power, and that a 60% majority is required to pass. In that fashion, no, single country is likely able to corrupt their actions. With the UN, the Security Council could be tripled in size with equal votes. First order on the agenda for NATO is that they vote to spend 1% (or whatever they decide) of their GDP for operations. The organisations have to be located on ‘neutral turf’, with some member donating the land to be ‘international’ in perpetuity so no country has domain to restrict others from going there. I’m not sure that with the UN or with NATO, the Americans would be happy with that.

  5. Joe from Canada says:

    The good side of all this will be the blossoming of Europe into an era of enlightened leadership beyond America’s influence.
    Let’s hope that Germany grants Trump his wish on NATO more fully than he expects and kicks American troops out of their country.
    Followed by expulsion of another various 800 bases world-wide.

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