FRANKFURT AM MAIN (AFP) – Back in 2016, German Chancellor Angela Merkel greeted Donald Trump’s victory with an extraordinary warning: that she would work with the United States (US) president on the condition that he respect democratic values. Things did not improve from there.
Four years later, Trump’s abrasive foreign policy moves, often unveiled in all-caps tweets, have alienated not just Germany but much of Europe.
“The transatlantic relationship is practically on life support,” said Sudha David-Wilp, a senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Even if Democratic challenger Joe Biden wins the November 3 election, experts said there will be no magical healing of the European Union (EU)-US rift.
Recent surveys by the Pew Research Centre found that America’s image among Europeans has plummeted to record lows, with just 26 per cent of Germans now holding a favourable view of the superpower.
The “harsh judgement” can be partly attributed to the widespread belief that the Trump administration “mishandled the coronavirus”, said Bruce Stokes, an associate fellow at Chatham House, a British think-tank.
“Europeans look at America and think there are a lot of domestic issues that are just breaking the country apart and how can it be a good partner (at such a time)?” added David-Wilp.
From pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement and the Iran nuclear deal to slapping tariffs on EU steel and aluminium, and defanging the World Trade Organization, Trump has dealt blow after blow to multilateralism, a much-valued European approach to global challenges.
He stunned allies by describing the EUas a foe on trade, and “scared people” by cosying up to Russia, Stokes said.