BREAKING: Trump Calls Top US Ally ‘Very Evil’ — Threatens Trade War
Trump Insults ‘the Germans’
Donald Trump just committed an enormous diplomatic gaffe while meeting with European leaders in Brussels, Belgium, the capital of the European Union and NATO. Der Spiegel, a top news outlet in Germany, reported that Trump levied a shocking insult against Germany, a major US ally and NATO partner. According to Der Spiegel,
US President Donald Trump complained bitterly about the German trade surplus on his meeting with the EU top in Brussels. “The Germans are evil, very evil,” said Trump. This was learned by the SPIEGEL from participants in the meeting.
Trump said, “Look at the millions of cars they sell in the US, and we’ll stop that.”
Calling the Germans “evil” is unacceptable rhetoric. It was diplomatically cringe-worthy when George W. Bush branded Iraq, Iran and North Korea the Axis of Evil, and those were international pariahs. But for an American president to label not just Germany, but “the Germans,” the people of a democratic country, and a top European partner, as evil, is a catastrophic failure of diplomacy and rhetoric. This is especially true of Germany, which is one of the most open societies in the world. Though it had a checkered past in the 20th Century, the German people have, perhaps more than any other people, owned up to and atoned for the crimes of previous generations. The Germans of today are far from “evil” and being slapped with that label is ignorant of recent history.
The labeling of Germans as evil came with a threat of a trade war. Germany is one of the strongest economies of Europe, and is one of the main drivers of the entire European economy. Germany is among America’s top 5 trade partners. Picking a trade war with Germany would be catastrophically stupid. Der Spiegel reported that EU Chancellor Jean Claude Juncker defended the Germans from Trump and lectured the US president about the benefits of free trade.
While Trump is right that the US does have a significant trade deficit with Germany, Trump seems to lack an appreciation for the value of things that are not liquid assets but are nonetheless priceless. Germany allowing the US to keep tens of thousands of troops in its country indefinitely has an incalculable value to American power and world leadership. In the complex world of diplomacy, sometimes longstanding agreements that barter seemingly unrelated things, like troop deployments for trade deficits, build the foundation of the strongest alliances.
Neither the US nor Germany or their European allies would benefit from a trade war between the two countries. Russia would benefit, though. Under Vladimir Putin, Russia has, for years, wished to reassert some of its influence that it lost in Eastern Europe at the end of the Cold War. It has been mostly stymied by diplomatic unity in the West, cultivated primarily by the US and Germany. A schism between those two countries would be a diplomatic coup for Putin.
Trump’s overheated rhetoric against the Germans could be personal, too. He seems to strongly dislike German Chancellor Angela Merkel. When she visited the White House in March, Trump seemed to refuse to shake her hand for cameras. And while Trump was in Europe, former President Barack Obama happened to be in Germany and was warmly greeted by Merkel. Obama also spoke to adoring throngs in Berlin, and said that the leading nations of the world can’t “hide behind a wall,” a clear criticism of Trump.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images