German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday declared a new chapter in U.S.-European relations after contentious meetings with President Trump last week, saying that Europe "really must take our fate into our own hands."It was the toughest review yet of Trump's trip to Europe, which inflamed tensions rather than healed them after the U.S. president sparred with the leaders of Washington's closest and oldest allies on trade, defense and climate change.
Donald Trump and his team were delighted with his first overseas trip as president, with White House aides telling reporters they considered it "the most successful stretch" of Trump's tenure thus far. The Republican himself boasted on Saturday that he believes he "hit a home run."A senior administration official "implored" reporters on Air Force One to "tell the story back home about what an unprecedentedly and historically successful trip this was by an incredible leader and an amazing man."Putting aside the Pyongyang-like tone of that creepy Trump World quote, the gushing boasts masked an uncomfortable truth: the president failed rather spectacularly in his first audition on the international stage. Consider, for example, Angela Merkel's impression, as reported by the Washington Post.
The German leader did not mention Trump by name, but her comments in Munich weren't exactly subtle: she said she believes the days in which Europe could rely on others was "over to a certain extent." Merkel added, "This is what I have experienced in the last few days."The "last few days," of course, referred to time she'd just spent with the new American president.For a leader who chooses her words carefully, Merkel's comments sent diplomatic shockwaves throughout much of the international community for a reason: it was emblematic of a widening rift between Western allies, caused almost entirely by Donald J. Trump. Russia has spent decades hoping to drive a wedge between Germany and the United States -- an alliance that's been a central pillar of global affairs for decades -- and it now appears Trump has managed to deliver that result after just four months in office.If Trump scored a "home run" abroad, I'd hate to see what a strike out looks like.Merkel's weekend declaration was a reminder about the scope of the detrimental consequences of the president's trip, but it wasn't the only example of Trump's failures. Over the course of nine days, Trump:-- lectured NATO members in a way that suggested he doesn't understand NATO;-- seemed to take sides in the Middle East's sectarian conflict, siding with Sunnis over Shiites;-- clashed with French President Emmanuel Macron;-- abandoned the United States' leadership role on climate change;-- made clear to the world that he finds it far easier to get along with autocrats than democratically elected leaders;-- caused a series of cringe-worthy moments that included shoves, golf carts, golf courses, gaffes, and failures of geography.Former U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill -- a veteran of Democratic and Republican administrations -- told MSNBC over the weekend that the president's trip was "rather bizarre," and it left U.S. relations with our European allies "worse" than when he left.And yet, there was Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), applauding Trump, applauding the president's trip for having been "executed to near perfection."To bolster the point, Corker pointed to ... nothing. The Republican senator touted the trip as a triumph, but he failed to mention a single thing that went right.That wasn't an accident.