German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s indication Sunday that Europe can no longer fully rely on the U.S. and United Kingdom may have been a blunder, Financial Times chief foreign affairs columnist declared Tuesday.
Financial Times Gideon Rachman took issue with Merkel’s comments after she implied the days where Germany could rely on the western alliance were “over to a certain extent,” adding “I have experienced this in the last few days.”
“I can only say that we Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands,” Merkel declared. “We have to know that we must fight for our future on our own, for our destiny as Europeans,” she continued.
Her speech followed several tense exchanges with President Donald Trump at a series of multi-lateral meetings. Trump reportedly pushed Germany on its trade deficit with the U.S. and admonished much of the NATO alliance for failing to meet its agreed upon spending targets for collective defense.
Merkel’s declarations were quickly held up by a U.S. press eager to show how Trump was fraying transatlantic relations.
Rachman acknowledged Trump’s role in fraying the transatlantic alliance, but noted that “Merkel has also behaved irresponsibly — making a statement that threatens to widen a dangerous rift in the Atlantic alliance into a permanent breach.”
“Given that Germany has been freeriding on American military spending, it is a little cheeky to blame the US for being an unreliable ally,” Rachman continued. He also cautioned Merkel from taking such a confrontational posture with the U.K. particularly in light of coming trade negotiations between the U.K. and the European Union throughout the Brexit process.
“It is hard to see how the UK can be expected to see the same countries as adversaries in the Brexit negotiations and allies in the Nato context. So a really hard Brexit could indeed raise questions about Britain’s commitment to Nato — particularly if the US is also pulling back from the western alliance.”
Finally Rachman notes the historical blunder of assuming a hostile posture towards the U.S. and U.K. and grouping the countries with Russia.
“It is baffling that a German leader could stand in a beer-tent in Bavaria and announce a separation from Britain and the US while bracketing those two countries with Russia,” Rachman wrote. “The historical resonances should be chilling.”
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