Despite their differences, European leaders want to appear to the world as people who can be trusted. Donald Trump does not care about that at all.
We may not be aware, perhaps because we’ve been distracted by other “urgent” matters such as the Eurovision final, the most recent soccer scandal or the 172nd sign of disagreement between the political parties which compose our government, but the fact is that the world has changed a lot in the past few weeks. Or, to be more accurate, a certain world order which we were used to – for better or worse – has started to change.
The manner in which Donald Trump broke the nuclear agreement with Iran on May 8 symbolizes the beginning of that change and is the starting point of a series of other actions which will, over the next few days and weeks, accentuate the role that the U.S. wants to play on the global scene: that of a superpower with an unilateral vision, whose strength relies only on its military, focused only on U.S. interests and showing little concern for the international order created after World War II.
Already, it is in this role that we saw Donald Trump moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, despite the position of all U.S. allies in Europe. And it’s very likely that in the next few days Trump will continue on the same path, regarding two major decisions: one will decide the fate of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the other will determine the tariff against Europe. In the meantime, Trump will present himself as a great statesman, in the spotlight, when he meets with Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12 — if he doesn’t change his mind before then — to discuss North Korea’s nuclear future, a country whose leader simultaneously seems to hold increasingly closer conversations with his Beijing neighbors.
It is true that the U.S. president has already ripped apart deals and commitments previously put in place by Barack Obama. He did it with the Paris agreement on climate change, underlining his isolationist tendencies toward the rest of the world. However, despite all the protests, the alarm bells didn’t ring because the consequences of that decision will only be visible in a few years.
In the case of the nuclear agreement with Iran – one of the final achievements of President Obama, which managed to combine American interests with those of Russia, China, France, Germany and United Kingdom – the consequences are already becoming visible. For the first time, we see Atlantic allies stating publicly that they no longer trust Donald Trump. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was the first to say it, a position immediately followed by French President Emmanuel Macron who, just a few week s ago, could not hide the admiration he felt for the current American president, causing discomfort for many French people and also for several European statesmen. The rupture between Europe and the U.S. is growing and is happening for a single reason: Despite all the differences that may exist among them, European leaders want to appear to the world as people who can be trusted. Donald Trump does not care about that at all.
Moreover, if the Europeans stop trusting Trump’s America, what can we say about people in other countries which have only recently started to draw closer to the international order? In the case of Iran, for example, the end of the agreement seems to mean the end of any tentative attempt to open up the regime as well as a powerful argument to increase support for more conservative factions. If Trump has broken the agreement with Iran, who can guarantee the North Koreans that any understanding regarding their nuclear program will be respected?
By insisting on this unilateral path, allergic to compromise or negotiation, America will no longer base its power on influence and will just base it on the use of force. That is the path to a much more dangerous world – yet again.
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