Neither Allies Nor Friends, Just Clients

While Trump remains in the White House, there are plenty of reasons for those of us in Europe to equip ourselves with tools that aid our security and defense.

According to the Donald Trump doctrine, trans-Atlantic relations are based on four rules. The first is that Europeans must spend more on guns and less on butter. The second is that these guns must primarily be manufactured in the United States. The third rule is that Europeans must submissively obey Washington’s orders with regard to NATO and, for heaven’s sake, forget any notion of a European army. The fourth mandates that, in the event of an external attack, Europeans must not think themselves under the protection of a security umbrella. This is because Trump will act strictly in accordance with U.S. interests, and if, for example, it is in his interests to please his friend Vladimir Putin, he will not undertake to defend Europe.

This is the current state of relations between Washington and Brussels, despite many seeking refuge in obsolete arguments and insisting that we remain loyal to a friendship that, at least where Trump is concerned, is no longer reciprocal. This is what was revealed by the recent correspondence between high-ranking members of the U.S. government and their European counterparts on the subject of European defense. The main grounds for criticism toward Washington is its asymmetric idea of trans-Atlantic relations: instead of treating the Europeans in a way that befits their 70-year-old friendship, Washington regards them as clients to be dealt with in an opportunistic fashion that is more characteristic of the world of property development than relations between allies who adhere to international law.

It would be unfair to attribute the president’s flaws to U.S. society as a whole, or even to the entire administration. In most of the institutions linked to Washington’s security and defense, there is a deep attachment to the relationship that was established with the Europeans following World War II, during the subsequent Cold War and even during the prosperous and peaceful period of the continent’s unification. Presided over by the EU and NATO, this was the greatest stabilization and democratization process in history. The problem arises when the president himself becomes the mistrustful adversary of institutions like the FBI, the CIA, U.S. diplomacy and even the Department of Defense, and, moreover, when he demonstrates unmistakable friendliness toward those who want to destroy Europe, whether they be Vladimir Putin, Brexit supporters, or the nationalist and populist alt-right, who hope to blow it up from within. While Trump remains in the White House, there are plenty of reasons for those of us in Europe to rush to equip ourselves with tools that will guarantee our security and defense in case we find ourselves under threat.

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