The latest cover of Der Spiegel, a leading German news magazine, is not subtle. It shows an orange hand with an extended middle finger, wearing an angry Donald Trump finger puppet. The text reads, "Goodbye, Europe!"
The American president and his backers frequently insist that, thanks to Trump's leadership, the United States is held in high regard across the globe. The evidence to the contrary is overwhelming, and when it comes to America's closest European allies, the Republican has actually created a rift unlike anything the world has seen in modern times. The Washington Post reported overnight:
America's three closest friends in Europe — Britain, France and Germany — are near-bursting with anger and exasperation at the United States. In a frenzy of meetings and phone calls among them over the past week, their leaders have tried to figure out what they can do about President Trump's withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran and his plans to impose sanctions on their companies that continue doing business there. [...]Trump's continuing effort to circumvent global rules has thrown the multilateral order into "real crisis," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday in a speech to a religious conference.
The same day, Federica Mogherini, the EU's foreign policy chief, appeared at a conference, and while she didn't mention Trump by name, there were no doubts about her intended rhetorical target. "It seems that screaming, shouting, insulting and bullying, systematically destroying and dismantling everything that is already in place, is the mood of our times," Mogherini said, adding, "This impulse to destroy is not leading us anywhere good. It is not solving any of our problems."
She went on to argue that even the United States needs global partners, explaining, "No country is big enough to face this world alone."
None of this stopped White House National Security Advisor John Bolton two days later from threatening our European allies with sanctions if they do business with Iran -- which came on the heels of his boss from threatening our European allies with trade tariffs.
The New York Times added last week," It is by now a familiar, humiliating pattern. European leaders cajole, argue and beg, trying to persuade President Trump to change his mind on a vital issue for the trans-Atlantic alliance. Mr. Trump appears to enjoy the show, dangling them, before ultimately choosing not to listen.... And with each breach, it becomes clearer that trans-Atlantic relations are in trouble."
Russian President Vladimir Putin has long dreamed of the day in which the Western trans-Atlantic alliance splintered, and thanks to his preferred American politician, Trump is helping deliver that vision in ways that were hard to imagine in the recent past.