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The future of the EU in the wake of Trumpís betrayal

By Alon Ben-Meir - posted Monday, 23 July 2018


My visit to Brussels last week during the NATO annual conference was nothing short of bewildering and dismaying. Trump's rampage against our most trusted and faithful allies sent shivers throughout the city, especially in the halls of the European Parliament where I spent considerable time talking to officials from different countries. They, and just about every other person I spoke with, were shocked to see and hear the President of the United States berating our closest allies, especially Chancellor Merkel of Germany and Britain's Prime Minister May. He treated them as if they were junior business partners who failed to pay their dues while reaping much of the profits. Trump's rage against them was appalling, displaying a complete lack of decency if not outright hostility.

These are the 70-year-old allies that stood by us through thick and thin, never wavered, demonstrated utter loyalty, willingly accepted American leadership, and took pride in an alliance that promoted peace and stability while safeguarding the principle tenets of democracy.

With unified resolve and unshakable commitment, they brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union, ushering in an unprecedented period of economic growth and prosperity while ensuring the national security of every member state and their allies outside Europe.

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These are the allies who were the first to respond to the 9/11 attack on New York and Washington by evoking NATO's Article V and stopped short of nothing to provide any aid and support to what they considered their most cherished ally – America – that stood by them in their hours of need throughout the Cold War and beyond.

These are the allies that joined the US' campaign against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan 17 years ago, and as of this writing, they continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the US even in an unwinnable war that has and continues to exact so much blood and resources. The alliance remains fast and steady in their determination to stand by the United States, which in turn has shown uncontested loyalty to its alliance with the European countries.

These are the allies that joined the US in the Iraq War, and however disastrous the war turned out to be, they never hesitated. They have sacrificed men, women, and treasure to the war efforts, and to this day they are still suffering from the consequences of this misguided war-a war that gave birth to ISIS and other violent extremist groups that have been terrorizing Europe while it struggles with waves of refugees flocking to its shores.

These are the allies who supported the US in its efforts to deal with wars and crises in the Middle East and Africa. Regardless of how bad and misguided some of these efforts were, be that in Libya, Syria, Iraq, or the Balkans, they remain consistent in their commitment to stand by America.

Every American President from Truman to Obama honored and took pride in America's historic contribution to the rebuilding of Europe from the ashes of World War II, which led to the emergence of NATO and the European Union.

This was a testimony to America's greatness, shining as the beacon of democracy and human rights, and inspiring scores of other nations to emulate it. America and our European allies stood together for what is right and moral, and made huge sacrifices to preserve the new exalted order.

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That is, until Trump became the President of the United States. In short order, he shattered this most unique and successful alliance, questioned the value of NATO, and disgraced its leaders. He tore Europe apart and subjected it, along with America, to the whims of the West's harshest enemy, Putin's Russia.

Senator McCain put it succinctly, stating that Trump made "a conscious choice to defend a tyrant" and presented "one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory." To be sure, Trump betrayed every principle and value the alliance has upheld, which raises a serious question as to what our allies should do now to save the alliance from being completely destroyed as a result of Trump's treachery.

It is hard to imagine that while sharing the stage with an enemy on foreign soil, Trump openly sided with Putin over his own intelligence community's findings about Russia's meddling in the election while overturning decades-long US foreign policy toward Russia only to serve his narrow political interests.

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About the Author

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.

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