Donald Trump’s offensive remarks to G-7 partners May 25th 2017 cause Chancellor Merkel to question the benefit of traditional alliances like NATO.
It’s time for the major European nations to take their affairs “in our own hands”, says Merkel. In other words the genie we worked so hard to contain is out of the bottle. Trump strikes again.
Here are the facts:
So, Donald Trump has returned from Europe. He will be remembered for his bumptious antics and rudeness, traits which are epitomized by the fact that he shoved Milo Dukanovic, Prime Minister of Montenegro, to get to his place in the sun, that he knows is always his. Where is Montenegro anyway?
If there is an insulting, foolish, crude thing to be done, Donald Trump will do it… and not even know it. For here is a man so self-centered and arrogant that anyone else’s point of view is completely beside the point. As King Louis XV didn’t say “Apres moi le deluge”. Or in the immortal words of Alfred E Newman of “Mad Magazine”, “What me worry?”.
However, he should be worried. He has got one scandal after another already on his plate. Moreover there isn’t a politician in the Capitol or in Europe’s capitals who thinks that number will decrease. At which I say, “Thank God for Angela Merkel“ (born 1954). Throughout the events of her watch she has been underrated, undervalued, and underappreciated. No more so than now.
Mrs. Merkel understands that to be a German leader is always to have a special responsibility to the German people and the world, for after all, it was Germany, always Germany that caused the great world wars taking the lives of untold millions to prove in the end that “Deutschland über alles” was a cruel joke and that Deutschland needed a firm hand to keep her wayward demons under control.
From April 15th 1945 when Admiral Karl Doenitz surrendered the “Thousand year Nazi regime”, the United States and Europe worked together to make sure there would be no World War III. To this end the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was created in 1949 and may be said to be the most important reason why Europe has not exploded in yet another of its endless destructive wars.
To make this situation work, the very name of Prussia (from which Germany evolved in 1870) was erased from the maps of the world. The map makers were hoping out of sight, out of mind. Thus the policy makers in Washington, London, and Paris worked hand in hand with the progressive German leaders of post Nazi Germany to keep the peace. They did it and succeeded right up to this very minute, one of the most significant achievements in the history of mankind.
Then onto the stage bumbles Donald John Trump, enjoying his midsummer night’s dream about places, people, and things he knows nothing about and never will. However this does not trouble him. No Indeed. His motto is” Lord what fools these mortals be”. For everywhere he goes he knows whatever he does, whatever he does, is right for by definition for after all a Trump can do no wrong. “Lord what fools these mortals be”.
Then something in Angela snapped, for she knows that she will have to pick up so many of the pieces of Trump’sfatuous regime. She will do it uncomplainingly (at least in public) because there is no one else to do it. The Trumps of this world are expert in one thing and one thing only, “Me!”. You are there for their gratification and for no other reason.
Such a person at such a time in the history of Europe could well cause major damage, criticizing as he does and seemingly without restraint. Every person and administration, that has had unfortunate duty to see must put the best gloss on the subject on what to do about the Donald and his almost laughably superficial ideas. Angela has taken the long view, she now running for her 4th term as Chancellor of Germany understands the truth of an old saying my father used to use so many times, “This too shall pass”.
Trump needs Europe, Europe doesn’t need Trump.
This is the problem. Because Angela Merkel is a statesman, she will get what she can get and make no fuss but people with the longer view even admiring Mrs. Merkel as they do are worried that Donald Trump has opened a fissure in the Grand Alliance. Given the malignant history of Germany from 1870 when the German empire was formed out of various German states, the Germans have been a rambunctious and dangerous element within Europe, anything that control and contains Germany is there for good, anything that allow Germany to set up an independent course makes all of Europe anxious.
Donald Trump’s behavior therefore is inexplicable, for he has cast a giant boulder at Germany and opened up a channel of menace with consequences unseen. Nationalist German demons may have been asleep since 1945, but they still exist with all that implies. Mrs. Merkel is just the kind of German leader the continent of Europe must have, cool; calm, not a touch of bombast, a woman you can do business with.
She believes that all problems can be solved without braggadocio or grandstanding. She knows that you can get more done, if you don’t take the credit; which is exactly why she has been so effective. This is why what is happening now is so significant. She now becomes the first head of state (with the possible exception of tiny Montenegro which will not abide being pushed around) to make it clear that Trump is irrelevant, unthinkable for the Great Republic whose standing in the world drips away every time Trump toots his horn.
But there is significant work to be done, and it must be done now. Angela Merkel and all the other nations of Europe are clear on the fact that they will never be able to work successfully with Donald Trump, a man with ants in his pants and an attention span measured in minutes. The agenda of problems to be solved is daunting, and what is necessary now is a joint concerted effort by virtue of size, wealth, and vision. The United States should be leading the ongoing negotiation with Europe in certain key areas including Russia, climate change, regional trade, and collective defense. However the Great Republic under Trump’s bumbling has left the leadership position to Germany and Mrs. Merkel.
Now this will only alarm those who feel the bones of German nationalism capable of rising again like doleful, dangerous artifacts from a “Harry Potter” film. Donald Trump by his unbelievably irresponsible behavior towards Mrs. Merkel and Germany in general has created a situation of menace that need not have occurred at all. Consider the following anecdote from the court of King Louis XVIII of France.
He had received his restored crown from the hands of Tsar Alexander the II of Russia. One evening he invited the Tsar for dinner. When the servants passed around the first dish, they ladled it on the Tsar’s plate. Louis, exploded with rage. “Me first!, “ Me first!”, he shouted thrusting his very hands into the dish.
Never mind that the Tsar had rescued his capital and made him a king again. And so it is with Trump and why wanton and pernicious remarks should never have been voiced even if true, much less because they are not. The peace of the world since 1945 has relied upon an unbroken chain of thoughtful statesmen particularly in Washington, and Berlin, these people, so many statesmen of high standing, have understood the importance of what they have done and congratulated themselves for being able to work together through good times and bad, through difficult political situations, and with a sincere, and thorough desire to maintain the Atlantic Alliance. What they have done, what they continue to do has resulted in better lives for millions of people. They are the beneficiaries, which include you and me.
Now Angela Merkel is called upon to perform the most difficult balancing trick of the century, she must keep the German people happy or at least sufficiently contented, to make sure the German nationalist do not gain power and prestige, and become a threat to stable government. She must work to keep the balance of nation in Europe particularly with Russia. She must find a way of working with the United Kingdom in a post Brexit situation. She must work on the big picture, never despairing, never complaining, never overwhelmed.
“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies”. This is the value of Angela Merkel. But there is a terrible gnawing fear in all this. Without complete and total agreement on major issues between Germany and the Great Republic it is inevitable the differences will ensue.
Who can expect complete and total harmony? Even the best friends must endure periods of estrangements. Mrs. Merkel is now the most significant leader in Europe where it is not inconceivable to think of additional cracks in the Atlantic Alliance. Donald Trump has no idea what this Alliance was meant to do and why it is so significant, yes even for tiny Montenegro down by the Adriatic. Of Course NATO founded in year 1949, now may be in need of a shakeup. Success often produces lethargy, new blood, new ideas, new ways of doing things is necessary in all organizations, even marriage.
Donald Trump should have traveled to Brussels with a basket full of praise and determination and tangible benefits to know the G7 members better and understand their situation.
Then he should have called these leaders together to begin implementing a strengthened NATO. Mrs. Merkel would have helped him in that situation. When Berlin and Washington work together they can achieve anything. Sadly this did not occur. Instead Donald Trump gratuitously pummeled the Alliance to the extent Mrs. Merkel will no doubt find any means to avoid Donald Trump.
For she has taken the measure of this diminutive man and found it severely lacking. She has found in him no statesman, no visionary, no indefatigable seeking after a better Alliance, a better Europe, a better world.
Thus the President’s trip to Brussels will go down in history as a date of carelessness and unnecessary failure and insult. What will happen next? No one knows for sure. But Mrs. Merkel, Europe’s governess, keeps on doing her necessary work; everywhere willing to labor to achieve beneficial results, irked no doubt by the bumptious Mr. Trump but determined nonetheless.
She can work around him, doesn’t need to see him very often, and as always will go about her crucial work quietly, without flash or wild egotism; content to be what her great pre-decessor Prince Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) was, “The Pilot of Europe”. For this we say,“Gott mit dir” for the future of so many, depends on you.