Under U.S. President Donald Trump, adversaries of the United States have found themselves on better terms with the nation and allies have found themselves undercut. Trump has reached out to dictators and walled off leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country he has included in recent tariffs and claimed — amazingly — to be captive to Russia.
She’s not impressed. Speaking to reporters recently, while acknowledging the realities of the situation, she pledged to continue doing her part to hold up the modern day U.S./Germany alliance — and, by extension, the alliance of the United States with the European Union, which Germany is a leading member of.
She told reporters:
‘One can say that the values, or our usual framework, are under strong pressure at the moment. However, the transatlantic working relationship, including with the U.S. president, is crucial for us and I will carry on cultivating it.’
That pressure has included the previously mentioned issues of tariffs and claims about capitulation to Russia. At a recently held NATO summit in Belgium, Trump went after Germany for a new $11-billion Baltic Sea pipeline meant as a courier for Russian gas.
That simple trade relationship does not do away with other issues — like the president’s own subservience to Russian interests and the broader U.S./Europe relationship that’s supposed to be about more than just money — but Trump stuck with it. The White House explained away apparent acute distaste for the remarks from White House chief of staff John Kelly as nothing more than surprise at the food that was in front of him.
Concurrently, Trump has pressed NATO member states to spend more on defense, despite the fact that the countries previously agreed to spend at least 2 percent of their GDP on defense some years in the future, not now.
That’s the ledge that Merkel has been left out on. Another push out to that point of disconnect with the current U.S, government is a recent threat of tariffs on imported German cars that could shave some $7 billion off Germany’s economic output.
‘We don’t want these tariffs. We think we’ll hurt each other — they won’t just hurt us in the European Union — they could have much more far-reaching consequences. We have a very serious situation in the world.’
That very serious situation could include retaliatory tariffs, Merkel explained, unless a different restorative course of action can be taken. She cast herself as averse to that outcome and hardly itching for conflict with the United States; she even praised the idea of Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting again in the U.S. this fall. Trump’s tariffs could mandate further harsh response, however.
Other countries have already imposed their own retaliatory tariffs against the U.S., forcing some major companies like BMW and Harley Davidson to move some production overseas to get around the costs. China has put a massive retaliatory tariff burden on the United States, and while leaders like Merkel try to pick up the pieces, Trump keeps bumbling around the world stage wreaking havoc.
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