Demolition Enterprise Trump: A Manual for Saving the Transatlantic Relationship

Karl Kaiser

Harvard University

Karl Kaiser is Adjunct Professor of Public Policy at the Kennedy School and Senior Associate of the Program on Transatlantic Relations of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard.

Transatlantic relations play an important role in how the West reacts to the challenges of the twenty-first century, and certain measures must be taken to maintain the relationship under the new U.S. administration.  This is the focus of Karl Kaiser’s recent article for International Politik und Gesellschaft, Demolition Enterprise Trump: A Manual for Saving the Transatlantic Relationship (published in German).

Already, the U.S. has lost its international standing as the world’s leading power advocating democracy, human rights, protection of minorities, and religious inclusion under the Trump administration.  Since President Trump took office, the U.S. has started to distance itself from the values-based order upon which it was built, bringing serious repercussions with it. It is Europe’s responsibility to counteract Trump’s crisis-bringing actions by identifying the most threatened areas of transatlantic relations, and taking measures to prevent crisis. The preservation of transatlantic ties will be challenging, but they can be salvaged with the awareness of four main issues:

  1. economic relations,
  2. adherence to EU regulations,
  3. NATO, and
  4. the European Union.

Trump’s tendency toward protectionism threatens trade relations. Although modernization and technological advances are the main causes for the loss of U.S. jobs, many instead blame globalization. With the populace’s growing preference for protectionism, it remains to be seen whether the new administration will enact such policies despite the probability that they would severely damage the U.S. economy and cause friction within the country. Europeans should continue to pursue free trade policies and investments, participate in multilateral agreements, and negotiate transatlantic trade agreements.

With reference to the adherence to regulations and principles of the EU, the EU should not recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea, nor should it lift sanctions against Russia—regardless of what President Trump has stated in the past. Russia’s aggressive stance toward Crimea goes against the legal framework upon which the EU is built and it is in Europe’s interest that the Minsk Protocol be maintained and that Russian military intervention in eastern Ukraine be stopped. Despite the Trump administration’s posturing toward Russia, Europeans are likely to find allies regarding the support of Ukraine in the U.S. Congress.

Furthermore, even though President Trump has made many contradictory statements regarding future American support for NATO, U.S. policies on that are unlikely to change significantly. Nevertheless, Trump’s election will force NATO members to be more self-reliant, which will also mean the steady increase of European contributions to defense and security policies.

While the U.S. engages in “America First” policymaking, the EU will be forced to focus more energy on the future of Europe while simultaneously juggling security policy, cyber threats, and terrorism. The EU should reject President Trump’s new nationalism, a sure recipe for universal chaos, and continue to stand for values that have brought peace and prosperity to the continent for the last half century.

While transatlantic relations are expected to change, transatlantic ties are the key to the liberal and democratic world.  Now is the time for Europe to focus on strengthening a unified Europe and maintaining core values of the western, liberal, democratic world.

English summary written by Alina Tucker.

The views expressed are those of the author(s) alone. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the American-German Institute.