Leave aside the bizarre spectacle of sword dances and glowing orbs in the medieval kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Ignore the hugs and handshakes in Israel and Vatican City. What truly matters, as far as the foreign‐policy establishment is concerned, is the state of the transatlantic relationship. And since our European allies are none too happy with Donald Trump, the inside‐the‐Beltway crowd isn’t either.
The Washington Post’s Anne Applebaum, for example, declared: “As a result of this trip, American influence, always exercised in Europe through mutually beneficial trade and military alliances, is at its rockiest in recent memory.” “The Russian government,” she continued, “which has long sought to expel the United States from the continent, is overjoyed.”
The reaction to Angela Merkel’s comment on Sunday, during a campaign event in Bavaria, is particularly illuminating. The German Chancellor stressed the importance of maintaining friendly relations with the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia, but added, “We Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands.” Alluding to the fact that Americans elected a man demonstrably unfit for the presidency, and the British public’s decision to exit the European Union, Merkel explained: “the times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over.”
Europeans have counted on NATO for nearly seven decades. Lord Ismay, NATO’s first secretary general, explained that the purpose of the alliance was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” “Now, Merkel is suggesting that the Americans aren’t really in, and, by extension, Germany and Europe are likely to take on a much more substantial and independent role than they have in the past 70 years,” George Washington University professor Henry Farrell said.