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A Big Fat White Avalanche: Trump Tries to Take on Europe

Submitted by on March 31, 2017 – 5:28 pmNo Comment

Different unions.

Donald Trump’s policy towards Europe is like a glaring white avalanche careering down a hill. The US is on a path to an isolationist freeze, set in motion by Trump’s nationalist rhetoric in which the president is considering changing long-standing foreign policy and this is starting to have a powerful impact on the political landscape of Europe.

Trump has considered leaving Nato feeling it is “obsolete” and too costly. In addition, his lack of criticism towards Putin and changing policy on Ukraine in favour of Russia and the fact that too little attention has been paid to the EU by him have caused Eastern European allies in Nato to be fearful of Russian revanchism. If a blast from a Cold War past sees a strong expansive East wind from Russia blow back across the fringes of its borders, the two EU countries of Estonia and Latvia would be the first in its firing line. And wind, just like avalanches are notoriously erratic and their behaviour is known only to them; everything else has to move out of their path or be smothered.

So to smooth things over with the European allies Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who ran Exxon and who had ties to Russian Rosneft and an Arctic oil pipeline, were dispatched to Europe. Although Pence however did reiterate Trump’s threat that they should pay their fair share or the US will turn away from the transatlantic defence alliance. Currently the US pays the most to Nato at 3.61 per cent of their GDP for membership with four other countries out of the 28-member alliance only meeting the 2 per cent GDP target. In fact during Pence’s European assurance visit Donald Tusk, the European Council president, stated that “too much has happened over the past months … for us to pretend that everything is as it used to be”.

To pretend everything as it used to be is indeed an indicative statement when describing present-day Europe where many countries seems to be embracing the nationalistic so-called “Trump effect”. Such as the Netherlands, considered one of the most liberal and tolerant countries in the world, where Geert Wilders, whose father hid from the Nazis in World War Two, saw the leader of the far-right Eurosceptic PVV come second in the recent Dutch Winter elections losing to Mark Rutte’s centre-right VVD. Wilders has credited the US president for inspiring the attempt of his populist movement to having a chance of being triumphant in Europe. This rings true in France as well where the Eurosceptic populist leader Marine Le Pen also spoke of Trump’s victory as making the impossible possible in reference to her National Front party’s success for the upcoming French elections in Spring.

Even Trump’s aide, Sebastian Gorka, is believed to have connections to the far-right Eurosceptic populist party in Hungary, Jobbik, and has even been accused of wearing a Hungarian uniform and medal from Vitézi Rend, a far-right organisation from World War Two that collaborated with the Nazis.

Trump has praised Brexit and Theresa May, who has famously coined the tautological slogan “Brexit means Brexit”, ad nauseam, after taking the country into divorce mode. The prime minister received a very warm welcome and had her hand held when she was the first statesperson to visit Trump after his presidential election win.

Yet Jack Frost got in the way of a meeting with another head of state as an expected snowstorm earlier this month meant that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Tuesday meeting with Trump was pushed back to Friday. Trump gave her the cold shoulder and with a stone cold mischievous look in his eyes did not extend his hand to her even while a photojournalist repeatedly shouted out, “can we get a handshake?”

Trump’s policies could definitely attempt to break Europe, however Europe’s old and established battle-worn past is certainly no match for an ex-TV show presenter where the thrust of his policies are dictated through 140 characters. In fact speaking of tweets and birds, a penguin was kidnapped from a zoo this year and found decapitated and dumped in a car park in the south-west German city of Manneheim, the region where Trump’s grandfather came from. Could this be a sign that things could get more out of hand and that casualties could mount in the potential rising blizzard between the US and Europe before or if there is ever to be a thaw in relations?

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