US President Donald Trump has defended his “America first” approach in relations with Europe. The President said it was his job to make Europeans pay more for defence, which his critics at home say has undermined his popularity across the Atlantic.
“When they say I’m not popular in Europe, I shouldn’t be popular in Europe”, Trump told reporters on Wednesday. “If I was popular in Europe, I wouldn’t be doing my job.” As he shrugged his shoulders to suggest he doesn’t care.
President Trump has been known for the international bullying tactics he employs, he will not allow any kind of advantage to any other country, even to the brink of war, just as his standoff of with Kim Jong-Un and of course the Trade war with China, which has the potential to cause an international economic meltdown.
But President Trump remains defiant and has claimed that EU members take advantage of his country with respect to trade and defence, and has called on them to boost military spending, within the framework of NATO guidelines.
Essentially, the president wants to trade in more arms sales, with the re-election campaign due to kick off later this year, he is eager to appease those with the deepest pockets.
“Germany pays 1 percent”, he said, referring to Berlin’s defence spending, which was estimated at 1.2 percent of GDP last year. “They should be paying 4 percent. They’re paying 1 percent.
Other countries pay a small percentage of what they should be paying. So, when I say I’m sorry, folks, you have to pay up, I shouldn’t be popular in Europe.”
The Trump administration has strained its relations with its European allies following the introduction of import tariffs on aluminium and steel on 1 June 2018, a move widely criticised by the leaders of France, Germany, and the UK.
Trump’s fellow Republican and bitter critic Mitt Romney said in a scathing op-ed piece that the president’s actions and protectionist agenda had caused his popularity to sink in Europe.
But president Trump added that his protectionist agenda would be welcomed in Europe. “I could be the most popular person in Europe. I could run for any office if I wanted to but I don’t want to. I want people to treat us fairly and they’re not.”
Additionally, Donald Trump bashed Germany for constructing Nord Stream 2, a pipeline stretching from Russia to Germany across the Baltic Sea, and threatened to sanction European firms investing in the project.
Another spark that has strained relations from Brussels was the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump announced last May. The remaining signatories of the accord, including Germany, France and the UK, have condemned his move and vowed to uphold their commitment to the deal.
What is clear is the president is determined to test the resolve of European allies, almost showboating to them to ‘know their place’, America first, America most powerful and America doesn’t care!
His supporters will insist he is doing this for the benefit of America, which is true, but at what expense. How will the Trump administration galvanise support for future missions? quite simply by providing discounts on services rendered.