Updated at 2017-02-22 10:09:56 UTC
The new U.S. president directly threatens Europe and Germany. How will the Continent react?
Is America now Europe’s enemy? With the election of Donald J. Trump in the United States, many in the German government and news media think so.
The threat they see comes not from a few offhand comments by the new president, but rather, from his entire worldview. Mr. Trump promises a revolutionary foreign policy. Rather than pursuing America’s long-term interests, he aims to maximize short-term profits. He’s about the balance sheet, not the balance of powers. So many of the changes he wants to make scare Berlin.
This has triggered an almost frantic response in Germany. “The inauguration of Donald Trump heralds the arrival of a new world order,” wrote Spiegel Online.
“Trump is the end of the world as we know it,” it concluded.
“Can Merkel’s Europe now hold together?” asks Spiegel Online. “Can she become aworthy adversary to Trump in the approaching conflicts over trade regulations, international agreements, and the liberal legal and economic order that has been so important to the United States for the last six decades?” (emphasis added) One of the most popular and influential newsmagazines in Europe sees America as the enemy—and wonders if their leader is aggressive enough.
In a 1990 interview, Mr. Trump singled out West Germany and Japan as America’s top two enemies—because those two “are making billions screwing us.”
“Merkel’s staff is convinced that his views haven’t changed,” wrote Spiegel Online.Germany’s leadership genuinely thinks America is out to get them.
Germany is also struggling to get on with the new administration on a more personal level. “Ms. Merkel has never met and knows very little about the unorthodox man being sworn in as the 45th president on Friday, other than the fact that he views her refugee policy as a ‘catastrophic mistake,’” wrote Handelsblatt.
“The German government … has struggled to establish contacts with Mr. Trump’s team,” it reports. One German minister said the only contact information he had for his American counterpart was an e-mail address. Ms. Merkel has offered to travel to the U.S. on short notice to meet the new president; she’s heard nothing back. No wonder Germany feels the new administration is hostile.
Europe also feels itself an enemy. The European Union, said Mr. Trump, is “basically a vehicle for Germany.” He praised Britain’s decision to quit, adding, “I believe others will leave.”
Spiegel Online wrote, “Officials in Brussels are concerned that one of Trump’s foreign-policy goals may be that of dividing the EU—in areas like the environment and energy policy, for example, but particularly in its relationship with Russia.”
“Hostile inauguration speech,” tweeted the EU Parliament’s lead negotiator on Brexit, Guy Verhofstadt. “We can’t sit around & hope for US support & cooperation. Europe must take its destiny & security in its own hands.”
It seems unlikely that Mr. Trump is deliberately targeting Germany. In other important ways, he is all for them. More German military spending? Great! More German troops in the Middle East? Wonderful! An EU army? About time you defended yourselves!
However, almost all of Mr. Trump’s priorities clash with those of Germany. No major economy is more dependent on free trade than Germany. Mr. Trump is the world’s foremost promoter of protectionism. Germany’s export-dependent economy relies on the European Union. Mr. Trump wants the EU to fall apart. European security depends on NATO and reliance on the U.S. Mr. Trump wants to end American commitments.
Mr. Trump’s presidency, then, will put Europe under huge pressure. Some are predicting that it will break up the EU. Yet others forecast the opposite. “Brexit, a shock all around, will combine with a Trump presidency to force the EU to put away childish things, and ask hard questions of itself,” wrote Reuters. “Infancy may be ending: always a hard transition.”
Yes, that transition will be hard, but over the next few months, the world is going to see Germany and Europe grow up.
“President Trump’s open hostility to the European Union and his disdain for America’s European partners in NATO will be the rallying flag that Europe has lacked for a decade,” wrote Giles Merritt, former Financial Times correspondent and founder of the think tank Friends of Europe.
The opposition Europe is now facing, he wrote, marks the moment “when EU governments will rediscover the virtues, indeed the necessity, of political and economic integration.”
If Mr. Trump implements just one of his controversial measures it “would unite Europe’s fractious, squabbling governments overnight.” The only way Europe could hold its own and protect its own interests from such an American attack would be by banding together, he explains.
The leading socialist candidate for the French presidency, Emmanuel Macron, likened Mr. Trump’s assault on Europe to the attack on France’s new republic in 1792. “True emancipation arrived in 1792, when citizens across France rose up to defend the revolution against foreign kings,” he wrote. “It is when a people makes its own choices that it becomes sovereign. It is time for Europeans to become sovereign.”
To him, Donald Trump’s presidency is forcing Europeans to make those choices—choices that create a sovereign superstate, not merely a nation.
The most practical outlet for this is a European military. “Today, Europe faces multiple enemies, while the alliance is uncertain,” wrote Macron. “We cannot fail again. We must create a European defense fund, with a permanent headquarters in charge of operation planning and monitoring. Central to this is a Franco-German relationship that is strong enough to ensure that Europe can act credibly and effectively in the Middle East and Africa.”
This is exactly what the Trumpet has forecast for years.
These forecasts are rapidly becoming reality. In 1963, Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the Plain Truth magazine, the Trumpet’s predecessor, foretold of a “united EUROPE… a giant new world power equal to Russia or the United States—perhaps even stronger. It will then hold the balance of power between East and West.”
It’s easy to see how President Trump’s foreign policy is leading to the rise of this new power in Europe—a power that, as Mr. Armstrong forecast, does not merely sit in America’s shadow but maintains its own power base, its own resources, and its own foreign policy.
But the rise of this new European power really is “the arrival of a new world order”—as Spiegel described it. It is a world that few alive today have ever seen—one with an assertive power in Europe, ready to challenge both America and Russia.
For more on what Herbert W. Armstrong forecast for Europe, read our free booklet