Ask Zack Beauchamp at Vox.com:
Donald Trump just lobbed a grenade into the normally staid world of European-American diplomacy, using a joint interview with two of Europe’s biggest newspapers to call NATO “obsolete,” predict that the European Union would fall apart and announce that the US wouldn’t really care if it did, and threaten to potentially start a trade war with Germany over BMW’s plans to build a manufacturing plant in Mexico.
For good measure, Trump also criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of Washington’s closest allies, while hinting that he’d be willing to lift the sanctions imposed on Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has rattled many in Europe by annexing Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and threatening to use force against other of his neighbors...
This is the damage caused by bringing in someone with no foreign policy awareness to run a nation, especially one as large and important as ours:
The remarks forced Secretary of State John Kerry to spend one of his last days as America’s top diplomat repairing the damage that Trump has done before even taking the oath of office. In an interview with CNN, Kerry said it was "inappropriate" for Trump to "be stepping in to the politics of other countries in a quite direct manner."
Kerry is right to be worried. Bashing NATO and the European Union, and alienating Germany, is a plan for tearing apart US relations with the EU — for weakening the agreements that underpin America’s status as the sole superpower and that maintain peace on the European continent.
Skewing things into "OH MY GOD THIS WILL GET WORSE" category is how Trump is Best-Friends-Forever with Putin, who would thrill to a devastated NATO because it would give Russia room to finish its beatdown of Ukraine (they're still fighting a border war) and re-establish itself as the Bully of Eastern Europe (rattling the Baltic states, Poland, and other former Soviet satellites countries).
Trump - by attacking NATO - is going after what had been a strong and maturing foreign peacekeeping organization that had reduced the threat of another world war in the wake of World War II. As Beauchamp puts it:
That’s because NATO works through commitment: Members pledge that an attack on one will be treated as an attack on all. As Trump calls the value of the alliance into question, other states might question whether he would actually defend a NATO ally if attacked — especially since, during the campaign, he said he might not. If countries don’t believe in that promise, then it stops serving as a deterrent — potentially encouraging Russia to menace a NATO member-state.
“The United States president-elect is actively working to increase the risk of military escalation and war in Europe,” Thomas Rid, a professor at King’s College London’s Department of War Studies, tweeted in response to the interview.Beauchamp notes there would be only one winner in a fractured and divided Europe:
There is only (one) country that benefits from all of these moves: Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
Putin’s fundamental foreign policy goal is to restore Russia’s place as one of the world’s most powerful and influential nations. To do so, he wants to restore global politics to the way it was in the 19th century — when European countries saw each other as rivals rather than partners. This kind of “balance of power” world order would allow Russia to divide European powers by forming selective partnerships with some against the others — thus restoring Russian greatness.
Putin’s Russia is too weak, in political and military terms, to accomplish this on its own. The logical end point of Trump’s stated policies, regardless of whether that’s what he intends, is a fractured Europe that would be far less capable of standing up to Putin.
Just as my own note, Putin's attempt to shift things back to a "balance of power" rivalry across the European nations is a bad idea, because history taught us that rivalries DID NOT KEEP THE PEACE. The Balance of Power system that came into being in the wake of the Napoleonic Era provoked a variety of arms races and empire-building that culminated in World War I... which then led into World War II and its horrors.
Putin may have forgotten something about those wars: neither of them did Russia any favors, with military failures, political revolutions, famine and death the main results. If Putin thinks a divided Europe is going to make him and his nation stronger, he needs to remember what happened to the Tsar who was in power at the start of the First Big War.
But it's not Putin's relative amnesia that worries me: it's the memory lapses of my own damn nation that's driving me crazy right now.
I'm not that all surprised that more Republicans aren't rising up to denounce Trump: after all, this is the tiger they're riding and they dare not get off. The GOP has their domestic policy agenda of
It's as though the relative stability of the last 50 years dealing with Western Europe never mattered to Trump's ill-informed nationalistic (almost isolationist) world-view, that the last 20 years of relative peace with an entire continent made up of economic and political powerhouses carries no weight with the modern Republican Party that once prided itself on foreign policy expertise.
The United States - and everything we've known in our lifetimes (for everybody born after 1945) - is so very very fucked now.
Just to note one more time, 62 million of my fellow Americans - some of them who should have known better - voted for this oncoming train wreck. And there is nobody else coming to save us.
All so that it would be a stronger world/
A strong though loving world to die in - "Sanities," John Cale