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Europe for Itself

As US President Donald Trump continues to wage war on the American-led international order, Europeans can no longer assume that their interests are synonymous with those of the US. The time has come for the European Union to redefine its interests, and to develop a new strategy for defending them.

BERLIN – Donald Trump is the first US president to think that the US-led world order is undermining US interests. Though the current order obviously benefits the United States, Trump is convinced that it benefits China even more. Fearing China’s ascendance as another pole of global power, Trump has launched a project of creative destruction to destroy the old order and establish a new one that is more favorable for the US.

Trump wants to pursue this objective by engaging with countries bilaterally, thereby always negotiating from a position of strength. He has shown particular disdain for traditional US allies, whom he accuses of free riding, while also standing in the way of his demolition derby. Likewise, Trump cannot stand multilateral organizations that strengthen smaller and weaker countries vis-à-vis the US.

Given his “America First” strategy, Trump has spent his presidency undermining institutions such as the World Trade Organization, and abandoning multilateral agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Iran nuclear deal, and the Paris climate accord. And because Trump has been able to pick new fights so fast, other countries have struggled to keep up, let alone form effective alliances against him.

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