How can Europe survive Trump era?

TEHRAN, Jul. 28 (MNA) – A recent meeting of NATO leaders in Brussels once again shows that there are conflicts between the United States and European actors. It also revealed its disagreement during the G7 meeting in Canada.

Currently, the European media often speak of deep divisions between the United States and the European Union.

Differences that increase day by day. Some of these differences are security aspects, and others have economic and political implications. In any case, it seems that these differences continue to exist as long as Donald Trumpp is at the forefront of US political and  economic equations.

As Speigel reported, Politicians are used to engaging in politics -- either with or in opposition to other politicians. Traditionally, the foreign policy of one nation-state or alliance is confronted by the foreign policy of another nation-state or alliance. That's the way it has been for hundreds of years. But that's not the way it is at the moment. When Donald Trump is involved, politics is not confronting politics. Rather, politics is confronting the bizarre.

There is no precedent for such a situation in the history of the West. That fact is also contributing to the difficulties of practicing politics in this day and age. Politicians, after all, frequently look to the history books for examples to follow and traditions to pursue. But in the history of democracies, the chapter on the bizarre is rather thin. Someone like Trump is a totally new beast and requires a completely novel approach to politics.

That fact can no longer be in doubt following the US president's trip to Europe, including his stopovers in Brussels, London and Helsinki. It makes little sense to hope that Trump might improve. He is the way he is and politicians from other countries have to get used to it. They have to develop a specific strategy for the period during which this president is in office.

For the European Union, the appropriate strategy can be expressed in a single word: hibernation. But that isn't quite as easy as it might sound. We're not talking here about the long, restorative slumber of a bear in her cave. Hibernation in the Trump era requires a complex political concept that Brussels should pursue in lockstep with all member states to the degree possible. Should that happen, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and perhaps even before.

Trump's embarrassing behavior during his trip has two primary causes: his explosive narcissism and his adherence to an extremely vulgar form of capitalism.
In 1989, back when Trump was nothing more than a real-estate tycoon, he suddenly said during a television interview with Larry King: "Your breath is very bad, it really is. Has this ever been told to you before?" Later, Trump explained this impertinence by saying it was a demonstration of his negotiating strategy: putting people on the defensive.

Incapable of Grasping

The last week has shown that it is a concept he apparently pursues in politics as well. He sought to unsettle German Chancellor Angela Merkel by claiming that Germany is a "captive of Russia" on the eve of his meeting with her. And he did the same to British Prime Minister Theresa May, saying just before their face-to-face that her rival Boris Johnson would make a good prime minister. It is vulgar. And it is ineffective. All it does is darken the mood and make it more difficult to find common ground. That, though, is the primary goal of foreign policy -- something that Trump is apparently incapable of grasping.

Regarding narcissism: Trump is constantly employing superlatives to praise his own deeds. Whatever he does, says or thinks necessarily has to be the best, the greatest of all time. On days when he is feeling modest, he might add a qualifier like "probably." One gets the feeling that he is seeking to insulate himself from overwhelming self-doubt. And that is what makes his narcissism so explosive. When doubts arise about his self-proclaimed magnificence, he is more or less capable of anything -- including uttering sentences that many, and not just his opponents, view as treasonous.

His election victory was not nearly as dazzling as he likes to portray it. Hillary Clinton received almost 3 million more votes than he did, with Trump only becoming president due to the peculiarities of the American electoral system. Close advisers and members of his family stand under suspicion of having maintained dubious contacts with Russians during the campaign. US intelligence agencies have evidence that Russian agents interfered in the campaign….

The Comeback of Real Politicians

Another European interest is that of maintaining good yet critical relations with China. Europe should play the role of third party, with the other two parties -- China and the US -- confronting each other as superpowers. Europe cannot resume its role as accessory as it was during the Cold War, a period when America determined the Western approach to the Soviet Union.

Europe is not involved in this clash, it is independent of it. Free trade, fair economic relations, a gentle but insistent promotion of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law in China: Those should be the guidelines followed by the EU in its relations with Beijing.

The same holds true for the relationship with Russia, though the security aspect for Europe plays a much greater role here. Russia is also a European military power -- one that can rapidly cause significant harm if it wants. Europe must craft a benign security policy that is as optimistic as it is pessimistic. The Russians don't want war either, but if it were to start one, the European Union would be prepared. Brussels must plan for the long-term lack of an American security umbrella.

Such are the foreign policy tasks that have to be taken care of during hibernation and thereafter. They are tasks that must be addressed by real politicians. And here is the opportunity offered by the Trump era: the rehabilitation of professional politics. Politicians have a chance to show that they are needed, because only they can address the challenges that face us.

MNA/TT

News Code 136120

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