Monday, June 05, 2017


"Donald Trump’s first visit to Europe was awkward. Its aftermath has been explosive. Speaking at an election rally in Munich, shortly after the US president had returned to Washington, Angela Merkel came close to announcing the death of the western alliance. The German chancellor warned that: “The times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over, as I have experienced in the past few days. We Europeans must really take our destiny in our own hands. Of course we need to have friendly relations with the US and with the UK and with other neighbours, including Russia. But we have to fight for our own future ourselves.” Ms Merkel’s remarks swiftly made headlines. Richard Haass, who as president of the Council on Foreign Relations is the doyen of the US foreign-policy establishment, tweeted: “Merkel saying Europe cannot rely on others & needs to take matters into its own hands is a watershed — & what US has sought to avoid since WW2.” It is easy and appropriate to blame President Trump for this state of affairs. But despite her cautious phrasing, Ms Merkel has also behaved irresponsibly — making a statement that threatens to widen a dangerous rift in the Atlantic alliance into a permanent breach".
Gideon Rachman, "Angela Merkel’s blunder, Donald Trump and the end of the west". The Financial Times. 29 May 2017 in
"Every great plan is long-term. Despite its power, I don't believe the United States has a long-term policy. Its desire, and it will satisfy it one day, is to desert Europe. You will see".
Charles de Gaulle quoted in Andre Malraux. Felled Oaks: conversations with De Gaulle. (1971), p. 30.
The German Chancellor's comments on the Americans no longer being reliable source of security is a diplomatic blunder in two senses: a) it is a warning couched as prophecy, which makes the prophecy more likely to become true. Something which I am sure that Frau Merkel does not in fact wish to occur; b) following from 'a' is the fact, that the words uttered by the Chancellor Merkel are completely and absolutely empty. Unlike Charles de Gaulle, who conceived and indeed worked towards a situation wherein: "the defence of France must be in French hands" 1. And among other things that required not only the ouster of NATO from French soil in 1966, but as importantly the construction of the Force de frappe. France's nuclear arm 2. There is absolutely nothing similar in either the remarks nor indeed the thought processes of Angela Merkel. It is all very well for her to proclaim that "We Europeans must really take our destiny in our own hands". But in the absence of a concerted and voluminous military build-up by Germany and to a lesser extent other European powers, her words a mere empty rhetoric. So, if that is indeed the case, and there is nothing to gainsay that that is not the reality of the situation, then Merkel's words are a diplomatic blunder of the first water. In the age of Trump, the very last thing that is needed or desired is for Europe to give the Americans the idea that Europe is self-sufficient and does not need or desire American protection. If Merkel were a politician of Gaullist stature and aims then it would be otherwise, but she is not by any means that. So accordingly, what needs to be done is for Europe to refrain from empty rhetoric, however desirable the feeling that it gives off and await the inevitable end of Trumpism. Just as Europe will see the inevitable (admittedly in a longer vein) end of Putinism. Until then diplomatic tranquility and not empty rhetoric originating from a Beer garden are what the current situation calls for.
1. Charles de Gaulle. Memoirs of Hope: Renewal and Endeavor. Translated by Terence Kilmartin. (1971). p. 204 and passim.
2. See, in addition to Memoirs of Hope, Michael M. Harrison. The Reluctant Ally: France and Atlantic Security. (1981), pp, 49-101 and passim.


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