In candid interviews with the Washington Post, officials in the governments of some of the United States’ closest allies had little good to say about Donald Trump before he delivers his second State of the Union address before Congress on Tuesday night.
Noting that Trump leads one of the world’s few superpowers, former German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel lamented, “We can’t live with Trump. And we can’t live without the United States.”
The report states that officials don’t know what to make of the Trump Administration that veers wildly from policy to policy and, at times, they aren’t even sure who in the U.S. government they should be addressing their concerns to.
Most worrisome, are Trump’s tweets and proclamations attacking NATO that has allies worried about the future of the mutual defense organization whose mission is to fight back against military aggression — particularly from Russia.
“They dig through his Twitter feed for indications of whether the president intends to wreck the European Union and NATO or merely hobble the continent’s core institutions,” the Post reports. “Officials say Trump, by design or indifference, has already badly weakened the foundation of the transatlantic relationship that American presidents have nurtured for seven decades.”
According to Germany’s Gabriel, “He [Trump] has done damage that the Soviets would have dreamt of.”
The Post reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron have all been baffled on how to deal with Trump, and now just warily live with him and hope he doesn’t do too much damage.
“We manage,” explained one senior European politician. “Governing by tweets is not the same as governing by diplomatic engagement. It’s a different process. But it’s something we accept and adapt to. I don’t think that our surprise on a daily basis is any greater than that of his own administration.”
According to Germany’s Gabriel, there had been hope that Trump’s bombastic campaign rhetoric had been just that, but now they have come to believe he is who he said he was.
“In the beginning, we thought, ‘He’s campaigning. The position will change him.’ But he changed the position of the presidency,” Gabriel admitted. “I find it shocking that, in such a short time, he has managed to rip apart a relationship that has taken decades to build.”
According to a French official, the president is just as belligerent in private as he is in his public pronouncements.
“On a number of issues, we have tried to convince him that Europe is a key partner of the United States,” confided the senior official. “He will say, ‘I don’t need you,’ and ‘Europe is worse than China.’ ”
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