Is Trump dangerous for Europe?
In his speech on foreign policy the Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has announced that as president he would put "America first". Such isolationism sends shivers down the backs of some commentators. Others warn against exaggerated Trumpophobia.
Risky and nonsensical foreign policy
Warnings against the prospect of a President Trump can't be overstated, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung writes following his foreign policy speech:
“Clearly others worked on the text and banished a few notorious Trumpisms - like sealing off the southern border with a wall, stopping Muslims from entering the country, helping Japan and South Korea become nuclear powers, and imposing prohibitively high duties on Chinese goods - from the speech. But the result is by no means reassuring. On the contrary, it shows that even with a team of consultants Trump still can't put together a coherent programme. … The only consolation is that his chances of becoming president are minimal, and with Hillary Clinton there's an experienced foreign policy-maker waiting in the wings. But here, too, we must be wary of wishful thinking. When an establishment party throws itself at a nonsense politician and, like Trump, dissociates itself from foreign policy mainstays like Nato and the principle of free trade, it's definitely an alarming state of affairs.”
US isolationism is nothing new
Trump's foreign policy guidelines are hard to interpret but they do have a thread of coherence, Der Standard comments:
“On the one hand the allies will have to shoulder heavier financial burdens instead of behaving like freeloaders and putting their defence entirely in the hands of Uncle Sam. On the other hand the construction tycoon comes down hard on the Obama administration for supposedly giving the allies the feeling that they can no longer rely on the US. First Trump says he wants continuity, then he stresses that US foreign policy must be less predictable. ... But with all the inconsistencies a central theme is becoming apparent: American nationalism with a pronounced navel-gazing tendency. The 'America first' that Trump has made his guiding principle was the slogan of the isolationists who believed at the start of WWII that the best approach would be to keep out of the whole thing.”
Europe must get by without the US
Trump's plans are simply the continuation of a foreign policy with which the US has been distancing itself from Europe for years, De Volkskrant comments:
“Europeans should get used to the following structural trend: America is adopting a new role in the world, and distancing itself from Europe and European security. The intellectual variant of this new stance was already provided by President Barack Obama. ... He didn't want to burn his fingers in Syria, he let Chancellor Merkel pick the chestnuts from the fire in Ukraine and took a back seat on the question of Libya. Trump is just a more rough-and-ready variant of American withdrawal. ... America's European allies can cry out that this is a disgrace and count on Hillary Clinton becoming the next president. But even her commitment will be thwarted by the mood in the country and changing strategic priorities. No matter who ends up succeeding Obama, in these uncertain times Europeans must learn to think - and act - more independently.”
No reason for Trumpophobia
His domestic and foreign policy plans may be absurd but the Europeans have no need to fear a US President Trump, author and documentary filmmaker Guillaume Van der Stighelen explains in De Morgen:
“We still see democratically elected leaders as we used to see the emperors and kings of the past. We forget that in a democracy leaders must behave themselves otherwise they get the boot. … Trump is a businessman. He's not really interested in politics. What drives him is success. If he can score a victory by giving every Latino migrant their own home, that's what he'll do. He won't put any money or time into a remote war he can't win. … Here in Europe we're all trembling. That's completely unnecessary. All the Trumpophobes of this world can rest reassured: what you say to come to power is seldom what you do to stay in power.”