Trump Arrives Ranting and Raving

The U.S. president lands in London true to his style of belittling traditional allies.

Donald Trump arrives in London with the Brexit crisis at the center of every European debate, with the White House interpreting the European Union defense plan almost as a threat, with the China-U.S. trade war transformed into a rebuttal of free trade, and with the new sanctions policy against Iran seen by allies as risky and unnecessarily raising tensions in the Middle East. The president’s eighth European visit kicks off in the midst of wariness on the part of governments, due to his radical rethinking of the status quo and the unprecedented deterioration of trans-Atlantic relations, as the United States’ international agenda is fully invested in the threefold aim of protectionism, unilateralism and rethinking the rules of the game of the global economy. Meanwhile, Trump garners support among Europe’s far right, which have made him their reference point.

Following two baffling years of appointments and dismissals in search of a team that is capable of implementing his program, the fact that the president has surrounded himself with a team of hawks underscores his tendency to intrude upon the internal affairs of his allies, disregard political conventions and exhibit unparalleled crudeness. It is the only way to understand his defense of a hard Brexit − one without financial compensation for the 27 members − as well as his preference for Boris Johnson as Theresa May’s successor, and the total lack of sensitivity about important figures in the British royal family and the British Parliament. There is no stopping Trump, because he uses his favorite catchphrase, “America First,” to the bitter end, scarcely considering the risks this attitude entails.

The American president feels entitled to continue down that road because the United States’ macroeconomic figures are superb, his 2016 voters’ level of loyalty endures despite his low approval ratings, and it is likely that foreign affairs will play a minor role next year when the president will have to tackle his reelection campaign. However, if any of the crises brought about by the Trump administration gets out of hand, the impact on global affairs will be unpredictable, particularly in the relationship between allies that, since 1945, have made a veritable political culture based on the reliability of their alliance.

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