Opinion: An anniversary, an embassy, and the destructive power of Donald Trump | Middle East| News and analysis of events in the Arab world | DW | 14.05.2018
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Opinion: An anniversary, an embassy, and the destructive power of Donald Trump

The flames and fighting in the Gaza Strip after the opening of the US Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem are evidence of the dangerous and destructive power of President Donald Trump, says DW Editor-in-Chief Ines Pohl.

What could possibly drive Donald Trump to celebrate the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem on the 70th anniversary of the expulsion of the Palestinians from the new state of Israel in 1948? The embassy compound extends halfway into East Jerusalem — an area that Palestinians would claim as their capital in the event of a two-state solution. It's a diplomatic slap in the face to many Palestinians. And while that does not justify the outbreak of violence, it is nonetheless a deliberate provocation on Washington's part — meaning the US president also bears responsibility for the many dead and injured in the resulting protests.

Destroying the Iran deal

What could possibly drive this man to destroy the hard-won Iran nuclear deal with a single signature, without even bothering to consult his European counterparts and determine a way forward? In doing so, Trump has shown a willingness to risk further escalation in the Middle East, as well as throw 70 years of peaceful trans-Atlantic relations with Europe overboard.

Read more: US Embassy in Jerusalem opens, further fracturing a 'fragile city'

What is driving this man, who seems bent on dismantling every single one of his predecessor’s achievements, with absolutely no plan for what should follow this destruction?

Ines Pohl (DW/P. Böll)

Ines Pohl is DW's editor-in-chief

Donald Trump has never been an elected politician before. He hasn't been socialized in this business, which is all about give and take, painstaking compromise, and the careful weighing of advantages against disadvantages. In the best-case scenario, politicians think carefully about the consequences of their actions — including those that extend far into the future.

You only have to look at the symbols he's chosen to represent his power. The gold letters spelling out his name on the towers he's built say it all: Look at me, I'm the best, and I can do what I want. He may have entered the presidency touting "America First" but really, his message is "Donald Trump First."

No plan B

This realization is nothing new. But recent events have highlighted the disastrous power this man possesses. Trump doesn't have a plan B. When he acts, he doesn't think about consequences, which may only make themselves felt four or eight years from now. He doesn't care how his actions and his verbal attacks affect any country other than the US.

Read more: Israel's future: ongoing 'questions marks'

He flaunts his power, because he can — always with the goal of drawing as much attention to himself as possible. And that's easy to get when you casually sow destruction.

That's the reason why he's chosen a historically significant day to reopen the US Embassy in Jerusalem. And that's the reason he's taken a hammer to the Iran deal, without giving any thought to what comes next.

Wake up, Europe!

For Europe and for Germany, this should be a huge wake-up call. Seven decades after the end of World War II, it's time for Europe to grow up. And that means shouldering responsibility for foreign policy and security issues. Germany needs to finally get serious and start investing in its armed forces again, even if many Germans have in the past been more comfortable with an army that wasn't fully equipped for defense.

Read more: 70 years old now — an Israeli story

Looking beyond Brexit, the UK needs to clarify how it intends to cooperate with France and Germany on security and defense matters. And the European Union needs to find a way to stop its internal crises and emerge as a strong body, with a clear definition of the kind of society it wants to create for its citizens.

These are big challenges, but one thing is clear: One cannot and should not depend on a country that is being governed by a man like Donald Trump. For the sad proof, we need look no further than the events currently unfolding in the Gaza Strip.

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