Throughout the 17th century and the 18th century and the 19th century, this continent teemed with manifold projects and magnificent purposes. Above them all and weaving them all together into the most exciting flag of all the world and of all history was the triumphal purpose of freedom. It is in this spirit that all of us are called, each to his own measure of capacity, and each in the widest horizon of his vision, to create the first great American Century.
Back in January I wrote about how two events – Japan agreeing to talks with China to proceed on a post Trans-Pacific Partnership Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestine Authority asking Putin to intercede with the US – showed a devolution of the US from superpower and hegemon to, potentially, client state. The events of the past week at the NATO and G-7 Summits clearly demonstrate this diminution of the US and its power. Today, speaking in a Bavarian beer hall, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated:
The times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out. I’ve experienced that in the last few days.
We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands.
If this was part of a well thought through and developed strategy to shift some responsibilities to America’s allies and partners, to better distribute the work that needs to be done to maintain and improve the global system – including to defend it, then Merkel’s remarks would not be so alarming. However, it is pretty clear from the Administration’s own remarks about the trip that this is not the case. They think everything went swimmingly!
Leaving this here without comment. A senior administration official to reporters on Air Force One: pic.twitter.com/SDlUvQBMmQ
— Philip Crowther (@PhilipinDC) May 28, 2017
The President has had a long standing animosity towards America’s allies and partners, believing since 1987 they have been taking advantage of the US, we now know where some of his animosity towards the EU comes from. The length of time it takes to navigate EU rules and regulations to get approval to build a golf course. The fallout from last week’s NATO and G-7 summits are going to be with us for some time to come. While the President and his senior advisors, such as the neo-nationalist and nativist Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, the latter of whom allegedly wrote the NATO speech, may have believed they could crack the EU apart and knuckle NATO, the failure of neo-nationalist candidates in Holland, France, and Austria have pretty much killed that plan. While Merkel still faces reelection later this year, the neo-nationalist, pro-Putin tide that they envisioned washing over Europe appears to have failed. And as a result the US cannot, no matter what the President and his nativist advisors may want, negotiate separate trade agreements with each EU member state and defense agreements with each NATO ally. Rather the US is stuck unless it decides to abrogate those agreements and become almost completely isolationist.
The reality that the NATO and EU member state leadership have now observed up close and personal has disabused them of the belief that the President was transactional. That if they gave him takeaways that he could claim as wins and stroked his ego then he would do what every US president since Truman has done: formally and publicly commit to Article 5 of the NATO charter. No amount of sweet talk or easy wins will move him off what appears to be one of his few well defined and long held core beliefs. That America’s allies and partners seek only to take advantage of the US. This will make whatever the US wants to do in the world going forward more expensive. We will begin to see less assistance from our NATO allies and partners. And we will have to pay more, as in purchase, for assistance from other allies and partners going forward. Trade, defense, and anything else the US will seek to do within the global system will now come with a premium surcharge attached. Just think of it as the price that must be paid to make America great again…