On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that European officials are fearful that if President Donald Trump wins a second term, the hostility he has shown to European allies will continue — and result in a “permanent shift” that creates distance between the U.S. and Europe.
“Eight years in political terms is an era, not an error. And it would undermine the reality of American democracy,” said French analyst François Heisbourg. “Trust in the United States would be abysmally low, and his re-election would undermine the alliance in two ways. First, he doesn’t believe in alliances, but he is also very unpredictable. No one, including Trump, has any idea where he will take any of this, and the unpredictability increases the unreliability.”
Another unnamed European official — who requested anonymity for fear the president would retaliate against his country — agreed, saying, “Trump’s re-election would be deeply consequential. If the U.S. re-elects him knowing everything about him, that will change things here.”
The president has routinely attacked various European politicians, and criticized NATO security partnerships, claiming that America is carrying too much of the burden on its own. He has also undermined key security agreements in which Europe plays a role, including the Iran nuclear deal, which includes France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
“Even though European officials generally agree that the change in global affairs could hurt them, how they can respond is another matter,” wrote Steven Erlanger for the Times. “There is already widespread talk of European ‘strategic autonomy’ and of the need to develop what the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell Fontelles, calls ‘an appetite for power.'”
In short, a second Trump term would mean a profound change to the way Europe conducts itself on the world stage — in anticipation of a long-term falling out with the United States that could have disastrous consequences.
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