In Brussels, Trump Attacks NATO And Upends The Post-WWII Order

As the POTUS damages the Atlantic Alliance, his Russia summit looms

U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, both gesture during their bilateral breakfast, Wednesday July 11, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, both gesture during their bilateral breakfast, Wednesday July 11, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The Rantt Rundown: Day 538 of the Trump presidency

The Big Story: Ahead of his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump began day one of the two day NATO summit in Brussels on an apparent mission to undermine the US-led liberal world order and upend 70 years of American diplomacy. In contentious public displays, Trump belittled America’s most important allies and lied about a debt owed to the U.S. In the breakfast pictured above, Trump accused Germany of being “a captive of Russia,” lying about Germany’s reliance on Russian gas.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel later addressed this:

“I wanted to say that, because of current events, I have witnessed this myself, that a part of Germany was controlled by the Soviet Union. And I am very happy that we are today unified in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany.”

Seemingly unhappy with the fact NATO members have already agreed to increase their NATO defense commitment to 2% of their GDP, Trump demanded they increase it to 4% (the U.S. only commits 3.58%).

In what was symbolic of President Trump’s preference of world leaders, when walking to take the “family photo,” Trump lingered behind the pack speaking to authoritarian Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. One of the photos taken was also symbolic of the new world order.

Behind closed doors, the President was reportedly much more conciliatory with our allies, but the public message was loud and clear, leaving allies in disbelief.

The Context: Anyone who knows their history is aware that the post-WWII order was crafted by the United States. NATO was founded 70 years ago to promote the shared values of democracy and uphold the common security of the West. America’s disproportionate investments in NATO yield dividends in American dominance. Not to mention an alliance that has come to America’s defense (see Article 5’s invocation after 9/11). The peaceful Europe of today is the result of decades of U.S. leadership, which President Trump is seemingly trying to destroy. This comes after President Trump began levying tariffs on NAFTA partners and insulting allies at the G-7 summit.  All of this within the context of President Trump cozying up to Russian President Putin ahead of their July 16th summit, while his campaign is under investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for potentially colluding with Russia to win the 2016 election.

The Look Ahead: The damage that President Trump has done can’t be simply undone by the next president. From pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord to violating the Iran Deal, America’s allies and adversaries will see the United States as volatile. A nation that holds no concrete values and sways with whoever is currently holding the office of the presidency. Long-term agreements will mean less and diplomatic efforts will be shrouded in a cloud of distrust.

In the short-term, Congress rebuked President Trump, alleging tariff abuse and reaffirming America’s commitment to NATO. We’ll see if this momentary spine rears its head in the future.

Day 2 of the NATO summit should be interesting as well. And with all eyes on the Trump-Putin summit just days away, the optics could not be worse.

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Rundown // Donald Trump / Europe / NATO / World