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Trump's threats

Soric Miodrag Kommentarbild App
Miodrag Soric
January 16, 2017

In an interview in Germany's "Bild" newspaper, Donald Trump blasted NATO, the EU and Germany. But Chancellor Merkel should confidently stand up to the new president, writes DW's Miodrag Soric from Washington.

Donald Trump
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/E. Vucci

"NATO is obsolete." This statement was not made by Russian President Vladimir Putin, nor by North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. It was made by the future American president, Donald Trump. And by saying this he is contradicting his designated foreign affairs and defense ministers. In Senate hearings only last week, they claimed the exact opposite. So where do things stand?

Soric Miodrag Kommentarbild App
Miodrag Soric from DW's Washington studio

If Trump means that NATO allies should contribute more money towards defense, he should unambiguously articulate this. To declare NATO as redundant only unsettles its members. Not so much the Germans or French - they are strong enough to defend themselves. But in the meantime, the Baltic States and Poland are justifiably asking if an alliance with the US is still worth anything. Especially since Trump seems, above all, to be focused on his friendship with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

How will Chancellor Angela Merkel react to the contradictory signals from Washington? She can confidently bring up Germany's contributions to transatlantic ties. Of course Germany can, and will, financially contribute more towards defense. But after the 9/11 terror attacks, Berlin sent soldiers to Afghanistan in support of the US. And in Afghanistan, it was primarily US security being defended, not German. Osama bin Laden and his band of terrorists attacked New York, not Berlin.

Washington tends to have a selective memory

Another example is in Ukraine. Both the USA and Germany have been supporting Ukraine's sovereignty, but it is only the German taxpayers who have been paying for it. When the Ukrainian president recently asked Washington for financial aid, Congress sent him home empty handed. And it seems as though President Trump will also be holding the purse strings tight. A further example? Germany has been paying billions to help Syrian and Iraqi refugees. But Germany had nothing to do with the war in Iraq, and indeed expressly warned against it. The US picked the fight. And this destabilized the entire region. They don't like to acknowledge their responsibility for this misadventure nowadays.

America's presidents come and go. But regardless of who calls the shots in the White House, the political reality seems to be perceived selectively.

And it must also be stressed that under no circumstances was the EU founded in order to commercially beat the US, as Trump has asserted. It also doesn't only serve the interests of Germany. It is for the benefit of all EU member states. And in the end, even the US can benefit. Or does Trump seriously believe that the US can in the long term remain a global superpower without the EU at its side? For this reason, undermining the EU is in no way in America's interests. Brexit is only likely to leave losers in its wake. In the end, the British will only hurt themselves. The pound has lost enormous value. Investors are withdrawing from the UK - even those from the US.

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