An adviser to five previous presidents warned that Donald Trump "is doing Vladimir Putin’s work for him" by widening the gap between the United States and Europe.
William Burns, the former State Department diplomat and veteran adviser, told The Guardian Wednesday that the relationship between the European Union and the US "may never be repaired" as Trump pushes policies on Iran, Brexit, NATO and climate change that counter those of the continent.
Trump's disinterest in those alliances, Burns added, is "criminal" given that China is "rising" and Russia is "resurging."
"Uncertainty and lack of faith in America’s leadership comes at a moment of profound transformation on the international landscape," the former ambassador to Russia said.
"It is not as though the world is going to sit by while we renew ourselves in Washington," Burns said. "Allies are beginning to lose faith and hedge, our adversaries are starting to take advantage. The institutions that we worked so hard to build – and I know as well as anyone are in desperate need of modernisation – are beginning to teeter. So I worry some of that damage and corrosion is not going to be undone especially if this is not four years but eight years."
When leading the Near Middle East section of the US State Department in 2002, Burns "fruitlessly" tried to convince then-President George W. Bush not to invade Iraq based on the "reckless" assumption that the nation had weapons of mass destruction.
Now the career diplomat is frustrated that Trump, in his soft-handed approach to handling the Saudis in the wake of the consulate murder of Jamal Khashoggi, is damaging the Middle East.
An architect of the Iran Nuclear Deal in 2015, Burns now worries "that Washington is reaching for militaristic solutions in Iran as it did with Iraq," the report noted.
As the Iranians are "trying to wait out this administration," Trump could cause "a lot of collateral damage" by maintaining a hard-line stance against the country.
"We are going to widen the fissure between the US and Europe, and in a sense do Putin’s work for him," Burns said. "We run the risk of an inadvertent collision with the Iranians. Look at the crowded and combustible spaces in Syria, Yemen and the Gulf itself, and there are some in the US administration where you hear the false echoes that produced the Iraq war."
Read the entire interview via The Guardian.