A smack in the mouth
A smack in the mouth
Despite his intention, Trump might save European unity
Source of the photo: dpa
“He needs a sense of tactical decisions and a plan of how he’ll reach his targets”, said Henry Kissinger right after the election of President Donald Trump in 2016. One of the greatest diplomatic figures, as well as the rest of the world, was shocked that this type of person could have been elected. But there was still some hope that Trump’s 5-year-old-boy-like behaviour would change once entering into power. Well, in light of last weekend’s G7 summit and Trump’s historical meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un in Singapore, we don’t have to delude ourselves with these hopes anymore.
As boxing champion Mike Tyson said, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”. Well, Trump doesn’t have any, and it clearly saves him from any inconveniences in negotiations with his counterparts. When he needed to talk face-to-face with “Angela and Emmanuel”, Donald remained nice and rather silent. To be honest, he has neither the mental capacity, nor the knowledge on the given issues, that he would be able to enter into a real debate or negotiation with the other leaders. But after leaving the room, he says, or even worse, tweets, whatever comes to his mind, blowing up in seconds the outcome of several days of hard work and leaving Angela and Emmanuel speechless. Because, of course, they had a plan.
Donald’s real partner is undoubtedly Jong-Un. They simply went into a closed-door meeting, talked about what came to their mind, and communicated whatever they wanted after, with an absence of any records or written notes of their exchange. Trump declared to the Americans that North Korea will engage into nuclear disarmament. Kim announced to North Koreans that the USA will lift the sanctions. Similar to the lack of objective truth in Trump’s elections campaign or the Korean dictators brainwashing propaganda, there isn’t an objective and transparent reality of their way of conducting diplomacy. But these guys, who a year ago entertained themselves by playing the who-has-bigger-nukes game, still have buttons to push if they get pissed off. Which is more than frightening.
But hoping that it would never happen, this insanity can also be perceived as an incentive for European unity. First, Europeans voters might realize how dangerous it can be to elect someone who embodies populism and pursues post-truth politics. I don’t want to be naïve, but I still hope that Trump will mean a wake-up call for EU citizens to think twice whose promises they would trust. Secondly, European leaders might also recognize the real meaning behind their responsibilities to seek trustworthy politics.
I am very far from supporting any of Trump’s endlessly simplified slogans. But he seems to be right with one thing: the European countries’ defence budget and Europe’s blind trust on the US’s generosity. The same Western European leaders who warn their Eastern counterparts that the days when they could rebuild their economies on EU cohesion funds are over, should remind themselves that the post-WWII era is over. Europe is not in ruins anymore and the US is not obliged to ensure forever the European security.
So, it sounds a bit dramatic when German Chancellor Angele Merkel or her Minster of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas talk about a Post-Atlantic Europe and an era when Europe can’t rely anymore on the partnership with the US. “Donald Trump’s egotistical politics of ‘America First’, Russia’s attacks on international law and state sovereignty, the expansion of gigantic China: the world order we were used to – it no longer exists”, said minister Maas. He is completely right. Europe needs to face the truth and find unity.
The recently leaked election campaign strategy of the European People’s Party fits well into this narrative. They propose to set up a European army by 2030, build border fences and employ 10,000 European border guards. Albeit this campaign promise targets the voters who are afraid of more migrants coming to Europe, it also shows that the idea of building a stronger EU foreign and defence can be a base for compromise among European countries, and an appealing issue to raise the EU’s legitimacy among voters.
So, after all, Trump might do something good for Europe with his smack in the mouth: create a new plan and finally find a compromise.