Mike Pence Tries to Reassure European Allies, but Does He Speak for Trump?
This is the trouble with anyone who tries to reassure on Trump’s goals and intentions. Do they speak for him? There are certainly signals, for instance, that Rex Tilerson isn’t in the loop. This means other countries are going to take him less seriously as he seems to lack any juice with Trump.
Pence can insist that nothing has changed and that we’re for our NATO allies just as we always were. But you can only be reassured by this if you simply ignore what Trump himself is saying.
“there was much to hearten European leaders in Pence’s visit — from his pledge to hold Russia “accountable” to his declaration that the U.S. will “confront threats to Europe’s security and stability” — just as similar notes were struck during recent visits by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis. The message seemed to be that a seismic political earthquake at home would not rattle long-held American commitments abroad.”
“World leaders may be further heartened by Trump’s announcement Monday that Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, a widely respected military leader, would take over as national security adviser after the ouster of Michael Flynn, whose coziness with the Russian regime of Vladimir Putin unnerved many and ultimately proved to be his downfall.”
“But soothsaying from Pence, Mattis and Tillerson, who fit the mold of America’s past political leaders in substance and tone, can only go so far when Trump remains at the helm.”
“Even as Pence was singing from the same foreign policy hymnal that has guided the U.S. since the Second World War, Trump was making claims about an attack in Sweden that did not happen and firing off tweets about the problems of “large scale immigration” in the peaceful Nordic country.”
“Pence may be the preferred messenger for leaders abroad, just as he is for Republican leadership on the Hill, but in the end it is still Trump setting the agenda.”
Exactly. And even Pence was talking about the need for Europe to ‘pay its fair share’ which sort of reduces the alliance to a protection rally: pay up or we’re done.
The historical basis for NATO is being forgotten. Remember that a big part of the post War order was meant to place a heavier burden for military protection in America’s hands-to avoid another World War.
Germany agreed to give up its aspiration of being a big military power in exchange for the US doing a lot more of the heavy lifting.
What Trump doesn’t get is this is a too way street. Sure, we can say ‘If you don’t pay, you’re turned off’ but then European nations will have to start their own military build ups.
I guess part of the problem that NATO and the post war era have is that they’ve been so successful in taming the demons of Europe’s past. They’ve been so successful that it’s easy now to imagine that NATO and the post WWII order weren’t essential that everything would be fine either way.
This is always the trouble with success. If you’re successful some will insist it was all not needed in the first place.
The rise of Trump and Trumpism in other countries suggests that there is currently a good deal of historical amnesia which could have some very worrisome effects.
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