Europe and NATO expect the unpredictable

Experts believe that the magnate can provoke conflicts for the sake of creating a diversion
Photo: AP
20/05/2017
19:47
Inder Bugarin / Corresponsal
Brussels
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President Donald Trump debut in Europe should serve to fix the harm done by the attack uttered against his allies when he was Republican candidate. However, given the volatile temperament of the President and the chaotic moment lived in the White House, it is likely that the summits of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union (the 24th) and the G7 (the 25th and 26th), will end up generating a greater disagreement concerning subjects of defense, commerce, climate change and the links with Russia.

“Since Trump is unpredictable, there are two possible courses of events. The first, the one desired by the majority of Republicans and White House personnel, is that he complies with the presidential script, being agreeable, limiting his discourse to what is established and keeping out of trouble,” said to EL UNIVERSAL Ruud Janssens, professor of American Affairs at Amsterdam University. “The other is that he chooses improvisation, with the risk of complicating matters even more and generating new conflicts instead of solving the unsettled ones,” he continued.

For the scholar, it is highly probable that the second course prevails.

“The relations with the EU and NATO are in the background for this trip. At this moment, Trump needs to appear in the American media with positive reviews. The FBI investigation and the Russian links are scandals which the Americans are talking about in the context of a possible impeachment. The question is: how does he plan to achieve this objective? He knows that his followers like it when he confronts foreign leaders. So it can be the way to deviate the focus of the problems caused at home,” Janssens indicates.

Trump called NATO “obsolete” during his presidential campaign and once in the presidency, he said it was not. Janssens assures that the “surprise factor” is still in the air, for he recalls, citing the NBC network, that he changed his mind during the campaign 141 times on 23 key subjects.

Other potentially controversial issues are Trump's closeness with Moscow, his constant complaints about the failure to observe NATO's financial agreements –of the 28 partners, the United States, Greece, Estonia, the United Kingdom and Poland, meet the goal of spending 2% of GDP on their armed forces– and his proposal to involve the Alliance in the hunt for terrorists.

Trump has clashed with the UE because of his commercial stand of “America first” and his anti-European vision. He supported Brexit and during the French elections, he sympathized with the idea of France's exit of the UE, a posture backed by Marine Le Pen's xenophobic party.

In a politic level, there also exists tension. Trump has disagreements with other European leaders, such as the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, and he started with the left foot his relation with French President, Emmanuel Macron.

“Trump believes in confrontation, it worked for him as a businessman to obtain the best deals for the lowest price, but it is difficult to unravel, from his perspective, which is the benefit from the conflict in international relations, where trust and certainty are fundamental, especially among allies. The risk of deteriorating NATO and EU relation is there,” commented Janssens.

Claudia Schmucker, responsible for the globalization program from the German Council for Foreign Affairs (DGAP for its acronym in German), declares that Trump will try to take advantage of the G7 in order to give a good impression. “But in reality, he has a contrasting vision about commerce in relation to the other members of the G7, so there won't be big commitments,” she reported to this daily. “They are exploring areas with a certain degree of accord, such as inequality and digital commerce, in order to achieve some sort of agreement and not returning with empty hands.”

For the German consultant, the summit will demonstrate how far Trump has understood that he cannot do his will on the multilateral scenario, like raising tariff barriers unilaterally. "It is to be expected that he will be constructive during the meeting, but being his biggest trademark to be unpredictable, there exists fear about what he will do or say."

Trump announced that after his participation in the G7 he will make a decision on the commitments assumed by the U.S. in the Paris Agreement. “The decision is already taken, he does not even want to listen to the word “green” in any of the declarations,” said Schmucker.

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