Trump vexes Nato partners

Speaking at the Nato summit US President Donald Trump threatened to "do his own thing" if the partner countries didn't increase their defence budgets. At the end of the summit, however, he reiterated his commitment to the defence alliance after having accused Germany of being controlled by and hostage to Russia. What will be the consequences of the US president's erratic behaviour in Brussels?

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Wedomosti (RU) /

Global stability destroyed

Through Trump's behaviour a basic requirement for global stability has been lost, Vedomosti comments:

“The Cold War was less a confrontation than a system of international relations. The existence of two poles forced every country in the world to position itself vis-à-vis the West. Hardly anyone was interested in the details of the ideological confrontation but the division into friends, enemies and neutral states gave the world 'interpretability'. The certainty in relations brought many advantages: for the West among other things the possibility to blame the enemy for its huge arms expenditure - and it made it easier for the USSR to impose its domestic policy in its own territories by pointing to the West's machinations. But this system of relations has now come to an end with the emergence of a US head of state who rejects multilateral agreements on principle.” (SK) /

Europe bears risks of massive arms buildup

The US president has shocked the Europeans with unreasonable and unfair demands at the Nato summit, concludes:

“Trump repeatedly stressed that the Europeans need to invest much more in defence. Now he wants them to spend four percent of the GDP on it. ... A demand like this is unrealistic even for countries like Germany, Denmark, Italy, Holland or Belgium. Not even the US can spend that much. It's quite simple: the Americans' demands are exaggerated and unfair. A policy of cold war, of trade sanctions, of hysteria about Russia or Iran, of massive military buildup and growing confrontation is not in Europe's interest. After all it's Europe that must bear the risks of such conflicts, not the Americans. ”

Diário de Notícias (PT) /

Geopolitical bullying

Trump is still acting like a businessman and hurting his country's interests in the process, political scientist Bernardo Pires de Lima comments in Diário de Notícias:

“The pressure the US president has brought into transatlantic relations resembles bullying. ... Trump seems to be acting according to a logic with a single objective: to break the 'allies', make them smaller and humiliate them - in order to take advantage of the increased leeway for negotiation. ... Donald Trump may be leaving his past as a businessman further and further behind but his 'business logic' is engrained in his political conduct. ... With his scorn for his Nato allies and the transatlantic alliance Trump is pursuing a full agenda. This strategy may be advantageous for him, but it certainly isn't good for the US.”

Kurier (AT) /

Start thinking about alternatives to Nato

Donald Trump's erratic behaviour at the Nato summit must be a wake-up call for a European defence alliance, Kurier demands:

“With Trump wanting to withdraw from Europe and even gambling with the centrepiece of the alliance, the collective defence enshrined in Article 5, the Europeans need to start thinking about alternatives. Trump may have relativised his threats yesterday afternoon but no one expects him to be reliable, that's over now. All we can do is pray, which won't be enough in the long term. A European defence alliance once existed, the Western European Union (WEU), but it was really never more than an idea. Now the EU has a common security and defence policy but lacks a clear strategy. The Europeans won't get a louder wake-up call than Trump's unreliable see-saw policy.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Does Trump actually know what an ally is?

At the Nato summit Trump once again behaved like a bull in a china shop, NRC Handelsblad sighs:

“Trump acted as if he had made sure that the Europeans will now raise their defence expenditures. He boldly stated his case, but it simply isn't true. What is true is that thanks to his pressure, the Europeans have already increased their expenditure. Seen from that perspective his pressure is effective and good for Nato. But the fact that the most powerful man in the world is playing fast and loose with the truth remains a concern. ... First he harassed his allies, then he lied about them. Does he really know what friends and allies are? That's important, because on Monday he'll be 'our man' in Helsinki [at his meeting with Putin].”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

Europe must choose between Nato and Russia

For Radio Kommersant FM Trump's criticism is justified - and a symptom of a deep crisis:

“This is indeed a strange situation: not a day goes by without Nato representatives evoking the Russian threat, saying that Russia doesn't share the West's values and attacks democracy everywhere it can. What they don't criticise, however, is Russia's energy supplies. ... The old world should choose: it turns its back either on Nato or on its convenient partner Russia. Because he who pays the piper calls the tune, and not vice versa. ... The old world is confused. It doesn't know what it wants or where it's going and is afraid to take decisions, whether regarding the refugees, Ukraine, or Russia. That is what is called a 'crisis'.” (PL) /

Trump tells it like it is

Finally someone is being frank about Germany's energy policy, writes in praise:

“No one has ever spoken so clearly about the 'standards' Germany consistently applies in both the EU and Nato. ... Until just a short while ago Germany has refused to admit that the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with Russia not only destroys EU solidarity on energy policy, but also makes Ukraine a hostage of Russia. ... Now Germany's hypocrisy has been exposed by President Trump even before the real Nato summit starts.”

El País (ES) /

Humiliation as a tactic

For El País Trump is showing something quite different with the tone he has adopted:

“Europe means nothing to Donald Trump. He just wants to do with it what he does with everything: exploit its weaknesses, divide it, humiliate it and in the end force it to negotiate from a weakened position or who knows, in the end he may leave it at Putin's mercy. ... His seven-day trip has begun as many had feared: with a display of boorish behaviour and worse diplomacy aimed at humiliating Germany and its chancellor Angela Merkel. If the metaphor is a school playground Trump would be the bully, if it's Queens in New York he's the real estate gangster. Trump has no principles, only goals that correspond to his personal interests. If he points to a weakness it's because he wants to take advantage of it. All his observations are part of this humiliation strategy.”

Milliyet (TR) /

The end of Nato

The confrontation between the US and Germany sounds the death knell of Nato, Milliyet believes:

“This speech [by Trump] revealed how the US regards any kind of trade with Russia, particularly when it comes to energy. When the US describes Germany as 'totally controlled by Russia' it's easy to guess how it sees Turkey, which is in the process of constructing a joint, solid air defence system with Russia. The US Congress's embargo on F-35 fighter jets [which Turkey had ordered from the US] is the result of this view. ... This is the beginning of the end for the Western alliance.”