Recent remarks by Donald Trump made to the leaders of other major Western democracies, suggesting that France pull out of the European Union and comparing the post-World War II military alliance NATO to the NAFTA trade agreement that Trump hates, appear to indicate that Trump is attempting to destabilize alliances among Western nations that have existed for more than 70 years, according to foreign policy experts such as Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin.
“As (Trump) heads to Europe next month for the NATO summit and then a historic meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, his personal attacks on the European Union and other pillars of the Western order are overshadowing his own administration’s attempts to reassure allies that the United States still believes in the transatlantic project it has led since the 1940s,” Rogin wrote in a Thursday column.
In the same column, as The Hill noted, Rogin also revealed a startling comment made by Trump to French President Emmanuel Macron during Macron’s state visit to the White House in April.
“At one point, (Trump) asked Macron, ‘Why don’t you leave the E.U.?’ and said that if France exited the union, Trump would offer it a bilateral trade deal with better terms than the E.U. as a whole gets from the United States,” Rogin wrote, adding that two European officials confirmed that Trump made the comment and White House press officials did not dispute the account.
The report of the comment, in which Trump offered financial incentives to France to split from the European Union which was founded in 1945, came on the same day that another Trump remark that alarmed leaders of United States allies leaked to the press. In a scoop by the political site Axios, a comment by Trump seemed to hint that he wants to pull the U.S. out of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance which was founded after World War II largely to counter expansionism by the Soviet Union, of which Russia was then a part.
“NATO is as bad as NAFTA,” Trump told the other G7 leaders at the Canada summit. “It’s much too costly for the U.S.”
Axios reporter Jonathan Swan wrote that he heard the comment read by an official directly from transcribed notes of the private conversations among the G7 leaders. With the exception of Japan, all of the G7 nations are also key members of NATO.
Trump has repeatedly said that he believes the U.S. should pull out of the NAFTA trade deal, as Vox has reported, which would indicate that he holds similar beliefs about NATO, based on his reported comment at the G7.
The reports of Trump’s comments came one day after the White House announced that Trump would hold his first one-on-one “summit” meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 16 in Helsinki, Finland, as the Washington Post reported.
Trump made a third comment that worried leaders both in the United States and in allied nations, posting to his Twitter feed on Thursday a message that appeared to accept Russia’s denial of 2016 election meddling, as the Inquisitr reported.
Trump’s comments, especially coming so close to his unsupervised meeting with Putin, have alarmed European leaders, according to The Guardian, because they seem to align closely with what experts say are Putin’s efforts to undermine Western democracies, and allied institutions such as NATO and the E.U.
“Just at the moment when the West requires unity, it’s disintegrating,” wrote Politico magazine Russia expert James Kirchick. “Unlike any American president of the postwar age, Trump’s 19th century worldview seems to accord with a Russian sphere of interest in Europe. For the next four years at least, it is an open question whether there will be any American leadership to corral Europeans together against Russian aggression and subversion.”