Tweets from the Oval Office – How should we react to Trump’s foreign policy?

As expected, the first two weeks of the new US government were erratic. While governance by Twitter (and intermittently by judges) is something of a new political science concept, these first economic, social and cultural decisions are quite consistent with pre-election statements.

There is an ongoing debate in western and Asian capitals on how to respond. Wait and see? Making bold statements to indicate limits of the accessible? Trying to be friendly? What is your take?

– Prof. Klaus Segbers

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  1. Alexei Voskressenski 2 weeks ago

    There is a mixture of strange feelings arising from following politics of the new American President. The first economic, social and cultural decisions are quite consistent with pre-election statements but more and more controversial in terms of their possible results. There are more and more concerns by the public everywhere including Russia that the end result of the decisions may be different from proclaimed. It is clear that America must be the first as was said by the President in an inauguration speech, but this was already said by many before. However if there are less talented immigrants than how to ensure proclaimed American intellectual preeminence? This is, of course, mostly American issue but creating conditions for the intellect moving back and forth is important for every country and the intellect itself is important to ensure the proclaimed American preeminence and also elsewhere. If families or relatives are separated because of the new decisions, than how to ensure the moral cause of which America was so proud before? If America will need a new infrastructure which must be the best in the world than what should be built in addition to what already exists? If the mercantilism and economic nationalism prevail than how to trade with others? Especially those whose economic, political, demographic etc. conditions are different from those in the USA and who wants prosper through integrated markets? If for the capitalist US economy fears the market Communist China than should a skillfully modernizing China be punished like dreadful Iraq with its alleged weapons of mass destruction by a newly elected Republican President? And also like Russia was punished? There are more questions than answers, and even more after the inauguration than before. I think we all, qualified analysts, educators, concerned politicians, must ask these questions. In a globalized world we all have a common future. So, should we copy politics that may be disastrous? Or maybe the world is now diverging from the USA. And the new divergence is symbolized by the lonely former superpower that may not even lead anymore in our interdependent and pluralized world?

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  2. Jochen Wermuth 2 weeks ago

    It is about time that the EU strengthens its cooperation in foreign affairs and defense and thus reduces its dependence on American goodwill – which cannot be taken for granted anymore. This means boosting military spending and creating common institutions which are endowed with some effective decision making power; the nation states must be willing to transfer an initially small but rising share of their sovereignty in these areas to the European level, as in the Monetary and Banking Union before. The goal to create an ever closer union of the people of Europe must be reanimated in these uncertain times. One key German contribution to the process would be to stimulate economic growth by launching a large-scale infrastructure program; sound public finances make this a low-risk strategy. It would stabilize the euro and reduce the centrifugal forces which are threatening to tear apart our continent.

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  3. Dmytro Sherengovsky 2 weeks ago

    Despite many of analytical prognoses that disputable issues would be only pre-election rhetoric, they turn out to be new agenda of Mr. Trump’s administration. Moreover, federal lawsuits that were announced as the result of refugee entry ban and signs from Oval Office ‘to fight to the end’ shows that President is trying to draw lines for new picture of American politics. It is hard to predict what the final picture will be, but we can observe several basic stokes, that should be taken to account. Mr. Trump is not a construct of political world, but of business world. Therefore, political procedures or negotiations that are usually outside of people’s eyes in his approach are putted on a table for further auction. To sell simple decisions rather than to design more complex – typical business feature of Mr. Trump’s populistic identity. Twittering or posting in social media is also simple and cheap way for advertising your products in business world. But is simple or cheaper a synonym to smarter in world of politics?
    If other political actors want to achieve success in cooperation with current US administration they should think what they can offer for a deal and be ready to used market approaches for ‘selling it’. The major problem, however, can occur when ‘doing business’ will force out ‘doing politics’. Signs of such danger can be seen even now – among 7 Muslim countries of refugee ban there are no country were Mr. Trump has business interest itself. On the contrary, Saudi Arabia or United Arab Emirates – countries, where President Trump and his family have business interests were excluded from this list, despite being countries of origin of a number of people who carried out terrorist attacks in US, including 9/11.

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  4. Sergei Medvedev 2 weeks ago

    Trump’s foreign policy is now facing a reality check domestically and internationally. On the home front, his “Muslim ban” has been successfully challenged by US courts, and the case is likely to go up to the Supreme Court. However, the reputational damage to Trump’s executive capacity has already been done, and the global fallout has been tremendous.

    The matter is, Trumps is not making his policy in a vacuum, and the US is not just a lone superpower but rather a Gulliver bound by a thousand strings of norms, institutions, alliances, partnerships and obligations, built over the last 70 years, after the end of WWII. The reasonable policy for the world powers is wait and see, relying on existing institutions and commitments, trying to civilize and institutionalize Trump, acting together with a more realistic part of his administration. The accommodation period might be long and painful, but in the end, the rooted structure should prevail over errant agency, and the loose cannon will be anchored on the ship’s deck.

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7 Comments

  1. Mathias J. Jongkor 2 weeks ago

    How should we react to Mr. Trump´s foreign policy, I think, Mr. Trump Executeve orders are already facing critical challenges in the Whites House and Congress. Therefore, we should wait and see The US´s liberal reactions for their President. Last week, Judges have prevented the immigration ban and according to Trump, the fighting will continue to the US Supreme Court. I think, if Mr. Trump has won that debate, then any executive orders will go ahead in the White House. CNN correspondent asked one an Iraqi man who commented on Trump, by saying that that Trump-like Ghadafi, they just talk what in their mind. He attempts to say that the world should not worry about Trump. Despite the fact that Trump is a commander-in-chief, he should not pass executive orders without consulting immigration experts to study the case.
    The EU should strengthen its economy and military to defense itself rather than been protected. But the problem is the Birgit had hurt the EU community and the EU also does not know the outcome of the French election. In the US, neoliberals are maintaining international relations of the US with others. However, liberals are confused about the relationship between Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin. Since the US elections, Trump has not said a wrong word about Putin. Are they coming with new world orders? EU should wait and see, not to react like Iraq that reacted quickly to Mr. Trump who wants to open more enemies to the US. For my point of view, the US´s allies should even if they wait for four years. To compare, Europe has more liberals than the US, because the US is shifting always from liberals to conservatives. To Mr. Trump, his foreign policy together with the domestic policy will cause a lot of problems.

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  2. worldklaus 2 weeks ago

    Give him 100 days and trust the judicial branch. Currently, Mr. Trump caters to a relatively small fan base. As the dust settles the Republicans have to prepare for the 2018 Senat elections. He was carried into office by protest votes, there is already some evidence that this support is eroding. Mr. Trump represents the counter wave of the Obama administration. This will level out over time. I believe that Mr. Trumps positions on foreign policy are so extreme, in historical perspective they will be seen as short period, violating core american values.

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  3. Zoltan Eperjesi 2 weeks ago

    Hybrid-media-systems and their impact on media change
    With the new presidency of Mr. Donald Trump also a new communication culture has started in the Washington. The rapporteurs have to adapt to a president, who prefers to communicate via Twitter to the people instead of using the traditional media channels. What’s behind all this? It is an adventurous move within a quite dangerous PR strategy, but nowadays top communication consultants are the main reference of politicians and VIPs by digital communication with the public. This not only includes the social media, but all possible segments of digital and classical communication tracks. The strategy of official PR teams by political communication seems to have many facets, but in the case of the Oval Office it is the ongoing development of certain teleconferences that can be also used as press briefing on a daily basis. This way may be a modern media experiment, but one should not forget that it is also a PR product where communication processes are guided by the moderator and certain digital tools. The main question is, as by classical press briefings as well: who is authorized to gain access to such kind of new style of press conferences? There are several other problems as well, because it seems so that this direction aims to replace or to limit the tracks of classical press conference. Accordingly, it is possible to completely redesign the transmission process of basic official information. However, here the base is actually the “digital” fan community and key media multiplicators. As one already experiences tweets and limited teleconferences can be used as official press briefing from the Oval Office, but can they fully replace the classical press conference? Modern digital tools and the possibility to combine them with all possible media channels, thus, also the social media are opening many options to communicate with the public. Nevertheless, if the main target of such a new media experiment is the “digital” fan community it is not to forget that they are end-consumers as well. Another general development of our times is that via certain media gadgets politicians and citizens can more often participate in communication processes. However, in the case of the Oval Office, the proclaimed aim of the communicator (role sender) is to circumvent the most unwanted interrogating style of professional journalists of certain media channels (pigeonholed as “fake news”). It is an attempt to get rid of unwanted journalists. The main problem with this kind of communication is that these postings are short “messages” with highly political and/or emotional content, but no matter-of-fact manner information. Of course, receivers of such messages may react, but they are already answering within certain trending topics on the the platforms. This is especially true for Twitter. Therefore, it is to see that professional commentatorship and classical press briefing have their own ways and roles within the information process. Furthermore, behind protocol or routine, these are vital processes for the free media and the flow of information towards society. One has to see the bigger picture as well, because it is a tendency that several political issues have their own campaigns in the social media today. Thus, it is nothing new that social media not only increasingly determine our private lives, but they are by now ever more often also a place of political debate. This is a direct connection between citizens and the political power. However, it is to stress the various quality levels of such digital media settings, which are bearing a lot of political and other kind of risks as well. For example, even extremist parties or movements can influence and mobilize their communities in certain directions (see the case of Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident, shortened in German as Pegida).The social media seems to pave the way for this new kind of communication, which should be no surprise in the digital revolution era. At the very least, these new digital communication possibilities are already changing the political communication in several countries as politicians and officials are using ever more often certain digital tracks, which allows them to communicate directly with the people. This did not happened before with all other communication materials and politicians are substantially more independent of classical media in this way. The logic of the implementation of gadgets and new communication tracks implies that politicians and officials have the opportunity to react faster to changes as before. Conventional communication paths are not offering so many “followers” as Twitter, Facebook or other digital providers. This can be also applied in a very constructive way, because if one follows the digital communication of the German Federal Government or the Office of the Federal Chancellor or even other authorities, one will realize that these postings are a good mix of factual communication and that they are strongly promoting certain topics there. As an alternative, they are drawing attention to draft bills, which they have posted as a shortened version of government declarations or they are emphasizing on certain historical events. Especially young people are addressed via such messages and the main challenge of this new style communication is that that the users of digital providers have the impression, there is always someone who instantaneously answers to them. This situation implies that such “comments” are taken very seriously and they are answered as soon as possible by the forwarders. For example, Facebook is mainly a medium of everyday communication and not a political one in Germany. This is essential for the design of language and style of communication. Therefore, such a media platform is not adequate for large and complicated debates, but it can catch the attention of people for certain websites as a sideline by browsing the internet. There are several other application possibilities too such as YouTube or apps as Periscope according to the profile and preferences of the user. Thus, the message must not be formulated in the text form, because audio-visual or only audio material via live-streaming are also options to communicate. Of course, if one aims to achieve only multiplicators as politicians, journalists or other persons, who are coining the political debate, then Twitter is one of the best options. After the examination of political magazines, satirical shows and the German newspaper Bild, the Otto Brenner Foundation has studied now the possibilities, prospects and risks of political communication via Twitter. The study with the title #Mythos Twitter of Mathias König and Wolfgang König shows that it is a sobering investigation for politicians, journalists and Twitter itself. Even if it is constantly reported in the media about comments of politicians on Twitter, the researchers come to the conclusion that “the possibilities” of Twitter are “overestimated” and one can only trust to a limited extent to the trending topic. Authors of the study are denying each and any mass relevance of Twitter. The promise that social networks would allow for a free and democratic communication is quite “unrealistic”, because established gatekeepers, such as media professionals and journalists, are still dominating the political communication. According to the authors, a hashtag is only determinative when it is picked up by traditional opinion leaders, “and this is also often deliberately used by the actors involved”. Authors have so far profiled themselves with communication studies at the University of Landau. They examined the political hashtags # klöckner, #landaulandunter, as well as, # refugees over a several-day period within the OBS analysis. The first disillusioning conclusion of the authors in this study was: “Ultimately, it becomes visible that a hashtag on Twitter is only successful when traditional media is involved or relevant communicators are involved.” A further criticism of the researchers is the opaqueness with which the US Company is active in the trending topics. Twitter simply does not make transparent the criteria on which the trends are based. Nevertheless, trends are journalistically perceived as newsworthy. This is problematic because Twitter draws the attention of users to hashtags, in which one could doubt whether several hundred tweets are really representing a ‘trend’. There were sufficient submitted tweets (656) from 119 users for the #landaulandunter test concept, in order to be included in the list of trending topics. However, this number was not achieved for the hashtag # refugees although 1254 users have sent a total of 2303 tweets. According to the evaluation of Alexander Becker on the study, the researchers probably have misunderstood this point, because if there is basically a high-volume Tweet on a specific topic, it almost never succeeds to be integrated into this list. It is finally about “trends” within those tracks and it not about the most popular hashtags. Further criticisms of the research team concerns the search and use of bots. The study criticizes the fact that the US Company cuts the results of the Twitter search by an unknown algorithm. In addition, bots have long been active within the system without being able to identify them. Thus, König and König discovered during their examination a bot, which by the Hashtags # klöckner and # refugees, automatically regenerated and resent certain tweets of the CDU. But, this form of attention grabbing is only available to the fewest Twitter users. “A dilemma in the journalistic Twitter reporting is that the technical power option of Twitter or of bots is discussed only in passing.” According to the researchers, the myth that everyone could communicate via Twitter on an equal footing remains a myth. Let’s dissect “alternative facts” by sound…

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  4. Zoltan Eperjesi 2 weeks ago

    Continuation of the comment:
    Let’s dissect “alternative facts” by sound human understanding. The world is multicolored and so are opinions as well. Moreover, precisely formulated critical accounts are valorous for all of us, because one can learn from this kind of messages, not to mention the importance of complex critical debates. They are a key component of progressive civilizations in the framework of freedom of opinion and media freedom. It is quite incorrect to put the entire main stream media into a perspective of dishonesty as stipulated in certain election campaigns or other occasions. Notions as “lying press” (in German the famous catchword: Lügenpresse) or “mendacious press” can be simply defined as abusive terms applied when the press takes opposite positions on emotionally charged issues. The solution is the clever use of social media, Web 2.0 Facebook, and Twitter blogs in political education, but not only, because even the strengthening and further development of the German-French tandem (diplomacy, model of strong cooperation and communication toward other partners) could be vital for the future of the EU, which has to cope with several challenges in 2017.

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  5. Zoltan Eperjesi 2 weeks ago

    How to react to Mr. D. Trump’s foreign policy?
    The wait and see attitude is only an option for certain actors, but in the field of German foreign politics it is certainly an inadequate attitude, because precious time could get lost by this. However, I am sure that the very stable and clear-cut German Foreign Office already intensively works on various strategies in order to timely react to American foreign challenges. The first step is always the hardest and as one has seen, the veteran chief diplomat, Mr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier is now the new President of the Federal Republic of Germany and Sigmar Gabriel followed him as new Foreign Minister. Moreover, citizens already experienced also the “making bold statements to indicate limits of the accessible” strategy on these levels. Thus, it is to see that such reactions are coming even from the highest official levels. Anyhow, the situation remains an intricate one and it is still suspense-packed, because of the imminent state elections and Bundestag elections in Germany. The circumstances are also interesting, because of the coming national elections in European core lands as France and the Netherlands. Thus, apart from the now unstoppable Brexit and the challenges of a new US commercial policy, there are also threatening political impacts in the Eurozone. Therefore, the “trying to be friendly” attitude is amalgamated with certain main sorrows, even if one tries to share them with partners or to smile them away. In sum: there are national elections and presidential elections in March and April/May with Euro-critical parties in the upwind in France and the Netherlands and Germany has to cope with the radical experiments of the Alternative for Germany (AfD). Under such complex circumstances it is quite complicated to effectively respond to Mr. D. Trump’s foreign policy, as the US President stands accused of alienating friends and enemies alike. The US President has made it very clear by now that it is about his country first. Now, everybody can experience live that he takes very seriously his election promise to re-establish the US as what he calls the “greatest country” in the world. During the election campaign of 2016, his controversial slogan was “Make America Great Again”, but the main problem is that still no one is clear on how he intends to do that. So far he is alienated traditional allies of Washington while reaching out to leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin. In certain sense, it mirrors that of former President Barack Obama, while in other sense, it is a strong departure. The only constant seems to be inconsistency and uncertainty. This domestic and foreign political ambiguity has repercussions on global economic decisions as well. Slogans were part of the election propaganda campaign, but without a clear political program nobody knows what the results of the implementation of simple catchphrases will be. Now, as the surprise of being elected as President is “far-away”, it is challenging to observe that watchwords are still going hand in hand with further experiments, but this time it really happens in the political praxis. One of this political experiments is the field of foreign policy. It is surprising to see how this track develops, as it would be quite dangerous for the US to put Germany in a check situation as this first game could suddenly end in checkmate for one of the traditional partners or even a no win situation for everyone involved. This could also cause a dangerous foreign relations domino effect (complete redesign of foreign relations and commercial partners on both sides) not only on European levels, but also on global levels. It is true that Germanys struggle to keep the EU stable also bears certain main risks, but these still can be tackled within the rectifiable collateral damage category. However, this complex task would be not so easily manageable in the short term if Germany, France and other European partners will have to face high military defense costs in the next four-year term as it is also a strong economic task for the Eurozone, which could lead to the multidirectional instability of the €. The disclosure of conflicts of political interest directly influences the economy of each involved state. Globalization is a fact and such global players as the USA and Germany have the possibility to move it back and forth. Yes, all car industries have their tender spots, but the boycotting of these industrial sectors also implies other branches as well and the gradual orientation towards new commercial partners is a long-term project. The question is if new technologies could be sold profitable to different partners as this issue strongly depends on the purchasing power of newly attracted business customers. Germany as one of the worlds strongest export champions is on edge by foreign uncertainties, which is understandable in such a position. Moreover, safety and reliability goes first for Germans by trade partners and not only. Thus, factors of safety are very important for Germans. Berlin’s emissaries are intensively trying to remind Republicans to their free-trade-friendliness in the Congress. The dream of a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is no longer an objective, but the new issue is how to save the status quo. European guests are evoking amazement to this day in the inexperienced team of the US President when they are pointing out that EU countries are concluding trade agreements only in the block. It is supposed that the EU was explained to Mr. Trump before his accession to the highest office by Nigel Paul Farage, who is a prominent Eurosceptic in the UK and the leader of the UK Independence Party. Trump affirmed in January that he would like to see a further disintegration of the EU. European diplomats were reporting half gratefully and half harmlessly that of all things Theresa May had given some lessons to Trump in the Oval Office. A strong EU is in the interests of the West, explained Mrs. May. The position of the US President is that the EU should do more for security policy. Nevertheless, Federica Mogherini issued a warning in Washington: “We do not interfere in US politics […] And Europeans expect that America does not interfere in European politics […]” She referred to the fact that Trump had recommended to emulate Brexit and that Breitbart News led by his chief consultant Steve Bannon wanted to run local affiliates in Europe with the proclaimed aim to support to win elections of such politicians as the French Marine Le Pen and other EU opponents. It is still likely that the EU will most successfully increase its reputation in Washington by offering a security policy value. Even US Defense Secretary James Mattis expressed “impatience” when it comes to underfinanced defense budgets. In addition, experts from Washington DC. are expecting that NATO should do “more against terror”, but it is not disclosed how it should happen. After all, since taking office, President Trump faithfully acknowledged the Western Alliance. Although he continues to use all opportunities to express his “respect” to Putin, but his attitude still cannot be perceived as an invitation by Moscow for the interference in the internal affairs of the Baltic States. It is possible that this kind of foreign directions will be maintained by Mr. Trump. Thus, he will continue to travel on a short time axis, which also means that it will prefer the quick success messages of long-term care of certain traditional alliances. European partners are adapting themselves to a policy that is mainly based on counterperformances. The unconventional idea that a strategic partnership with the USA can be reduced to “deal packages” may still be rejected in Berlin, because traditional German foreign policy avoids to intermix business-related deals with diplomacy and politics. Economic activities are based on strategical partners, but political/governmental framework conditions have priority and in a next section it is possible to consider business environment and trading. However, the foreign policy chief of the EU has made it clear in Washington that in the absence of a common value base even “pragmatic fields with converging interests” must be examined. It seems so that Mr. Trump promises strength, but here is no leadership anymore. Federica Mogherini was asked by a CNN reporter whether Europe should now go at the forefront of the free world in order fill the power vacuum. The high representative of the EU for foreign affairs and security matters just smiled and answered: “Good idea!” Accordingly, the role of the German-French tandem within the EU is re-evaluated and it depends on the further development of this balance and other partnerships if the cohesion within the member states can be strengthened or not. The problem children of the EU are mostly in Eastern Europe and when the German, French and Dutch elections have been done, the next step will be the focus on this problematic states. The US context shows that for Mr. Trump the economic nationalism is the line of external relations. Even if, according to recent concerns, there are more signs of continuity in foreign policy today, it is very probable that Mr. Trump wants to continue to be perceived as a disruptive, unpredictable president. Perhaps his tweets will ultimately only inform the world, and in the meantime, people will learn to not give too much weight to the words of the American president. Or it could be that Mr. Trump effectively prevents people like Mattis and Tillerson to foster alliances and to moderate conflicts. Conclusion: come for the hodgepodge and stay for the consequences. Currently, the Flynn debacle is just the tip of the iceberg. The strengthening of informal diplomacy also could help to cope with Mr. D. Trump’s foreign policy.

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  6. Wisam Salih 2 weeks ago

    The real question is whether or not Trump has a real vision for the United States in the world, or if it’s just an extension of US domestic policy. It seems that it is the latter. Incoherent and often contradicting statements stemming from the White House makes me think that indeed, “all politics is local”. I don’t think many would disagree that Trump was mostly elected on a populist agenda, which forces his administration to look for quick political wins. For this reason, he’s still in campaign mode. My bet is that we’ll still see additional political blunders in the coming weeks and months as he seeks to appease his political base. Those looking to make sense of the so-called “Trump Doctrine” should look through the prism of local politics and focus on those issues that won him the White House. Needless to say, this will be a very entertaining four years. That is, if he makes it that long.

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  7. Zoltan Eperjesi 1 week ago

    Tweets dependent power operations: Europe is arming up
    The results of the game “good cop, bad cop” seems to be successful
    Since the Second World War the American and European partnership represents the cornerstone of the stability of the world, but the main test is if the NATO will manage to survive Mr. Trump’s presidency. A strong NATO would be good for all involved parts, because it is a continuation of the military stability pact. A week NATO also means “to reshuffle the pack and play cards”. Put simply: it was not easy with the US dominated military world leadership, but without it the competition could be intensified by certain aspirants in order to fill the power gap. The further implementation of the isolationist policy of the USA will one way or the other affect the traditional balance of power in the world. In Mr. Trump’s eyes the NATO is “obsolete” and the EU is a phase-out model. The US president has made Europeans deeply unsecure. Even the military assistance of the US seemed to be dependent on the financial contribution of other NATO partners. As a result, the new US Secretary of Defense James Mattis was concerned at his first meeting with NATO counterparts to calm their nerves. The events of 2014 – including the annexation of the Crimea by Russia- are “sobering”. The hope to work more closely with Russia, have not been fulfilled. Mr. Mattis had already declared this on his way to Brussels. Moreover, after Trumps shock therapy Mattis’ appearance was not without effect.
    Short before his visit in Brussel, Mr. Mattis has clearly positioned himself for the NATO, but as soon as he arrived in the bug-proof NATO meeting room in Brussels, he was destroying all the hopes of his European partners. However, one could expect something like mildness from him. The transatlantic alliance remains “the basic foundation” in the relations of the US and its partners, – said Mattis before the discussions by ministers, but on Wednesday afternoon, he talked as his boss. The former elite soldier and highly decorated ex-general also affirmed that “America will fulfill its responsibilities,” but, “if your countries do not want the US to reduce their commitment to this alliance, each of your capital cities needs to demonstrate support for our common defense.” Thus, Mr. Mattis calls on the Allies to increase their military budget by the end of the year, because otherwise he threatened to withdraw US support for the NATO partners. Therewith, he put it straight and the negotiating directive of the US towards partners is very clear by now. Deal-making à la Trump by financial plight. Indeed, the statement came like a thunderbolt, because with a withdrawal from Europe, the US could plunge NATO partners in deep worry. All this happens in spite of the fact that the US had considerably expanded its activities in Eastern Europe under Barack Obama. Moreover, an US tank brigade is currently being relocated to Poland on ships and rails in order to send a signal to Moscow that the NATO alliance is alive. According to the principles of the North Atlantic Treaty, an attack on a NATO country means an attack on all the countries of the alliance. Against this it may be observed that even a partial US withdrawal would send the opposite message to Russia, thus, that the West is hesitant. Even so, Mr. Mattis confirms that US President D. Trump is serious about his demand that Europe must contribute more to NATO expenditures. None of his statements had caused so much uncertainty by European partners. Europe has a large economy, but military is largely defenseless without the protection of the USA. The Europeans had hoped to find a contact partner in Mr. Mattis, who has experience as former NATO general and also knows well the Alliance with the various sensitivities of the partners. Therefore, he first aroused the hope of the partners, but even NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg seemed to be nervous as the US Secretary of Defense was making his statement public. Indeed, the Europeans tried in their own way to draw the US defense minister on their side with a combination of charm offensive and they also “kneeled before him”. In the light of the statement of Mr. Mattis, respectively related to the US demand that Europeans should spend more money on military defense, the German Defence Secretary, Ms. Von der Leyen gave the Americans right. ”It is a matter of fairness that we Europeans all together make our contribution and that we not excessively weight on the Americans.” NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg supported the statement of Ms. Von der Leyen. At the meeting of the defense ministers, Mr. Stoltenberg once again stressed that the defense spending of the NATO partners had risen last, even if most of the target to invest 2% of the economic output in the defense are still very far away. In addition, the NATO is also taking more action in the fight against terror; – this is the second major demand of the USA. For example, a base will be set up in Naples in order to be able to gather information from crisis countries such as Libya and Iraq. As Mr. Stoltenberg has continued his speech with “this will help us to combat terrorism”, he was looking at Mr. Mattis, who was next to him, but the General was looking motionless forward. General Secretary Stoltenberg was asked at a subsequent press conference, if the US conditioning should not be viewed as a threat and he answered that Mr. Mattis merely emphasized that it the issue of burdens must be treated fairly. And besides, not only words are counting, but also actions. Mr. Stoltenberg also highlighted that the United States recently deployed for the first time in a long time new troops in Europe. In 2014, the NATO countries agreed to increase their military spending to 2% of their GDP, – but then they have done little to achieve this objective. Germany stands currently by about 1.2%, and most of the other European countries are well below the 2% level. Even US President Barack Obama criticized this, but only Trumps brute rhetoric seems to have shaken the Europeans. The fact is, that the charm offensive of the Europeans has failed, because a few hours later Mr. Mattis gave the partners a hard-hitting ultimatum: the Allies would have to draw up a plan on how to achieve the goal of increasing defense expenditure by the end of 2017. This dispute will continue in May when a NATO summit will be held in Brussels and US President D. Trump will participate personally. Consequently, one cannot expect from him to have less strong messages for European partners. The next step is that NATO Secretary General, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg, will attend the Munich Security Conference on Friday, 17 February, and Saturday, 18 February 2017. The Secretary General will deliver a speech and in the margins of the Conference, he will have bilateral meetings with various international officials. The doorstep will be live on the NATO website, www.nato.int. The Secretary General’s address on Saturday can be watched live on the website of the event – www.securityconference.de/en. One can follow them on Twitter (@NATOPress and @jensstoltenberg).
    However, the closer cooperation between Europeans has not only political but also practical reasons. According to Brussels, the raising of defense budgets to the 2% target alone is pointless without closer cooperation, for example, in the procurement of weapon systems. “Otherwise, we have things multiply and many things not at all in the end” – said a NATO diplomat. After all, a great concern of Europeans, thus, the possible rapprochement between the US and Russia at their expense has recently shrunk considerably: Mr. Trump, who has repeatedly praised Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, is currently executing a rhetorical turnaround. On Tuesday, he demanded from Russia to return the annexed Crimea. The answer from Moscow came promptly: The Crimea belongs to Russia. “We are not returning our own territory,” said a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry. After that Mr. Trump twittered: “Crimea was TAKEN by Russia during the Obama Administration. Was Obama too soft on Russia?” (13:42 – 15 Feb 2017). Thus, the suspension of the sanctions against Russia appears to be off the table. However, one is cautious with forecasts regarding Mr. Trump in the NATO headquarter. It is said on the corridors of Brussels headquarters that the US president could again close friendship with just one tweet with Mr. Putin. And just as well, he could destroy only with a tweet everything that has just returned to European trust. In sum: US President Donald Trump has caused a stir in Europe with his criticism on NATO and the EU. Meanwhile, the new US government seems to be trying to smooth the waves and increase the distance to Moscow. However, the uncertainty in Europe continues to exist, which now also means that Europeans want to strengthen their military cooperation with each other. Thus, the Europeans are reacting and are cutting the cords of too much military dependence of the USA. The first step is the meeting of NATO defense ministers. Mr. Roland Freudenstein believes that Europeans cannot defend themselves against Russia without the USA. Therefore, it is only a question of strengthening the European pillar of NATO at the moment, without weakening the USA: “I do not see how Europe should organize its defense outside of NATO.”
    Let’s close with Ronald Reagan’s saying: “Nations do not distrust each other because they are armed. They are armed because they distrust each other.”

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