President Donald Trump’s meeting with the new Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Tuesday represents more than backslapping, especially to a Europe searching for American support against liberalism gone wild.
Across Hungary, the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, and Brexit Britain, the populist-nationalist movement is searching for air support from someone they regard as the greatest negotiator on the planet: President Trump.
That’s why so many pro-Brexit Britons, nearly 50 percent of those polled, think Trump would be a better Brexit negotiator than Prime Minister Theresa May or her team, and why so many of them reacted with glee when the U.S. president savaged her tactics on the front page of the Sun newspaper while he was in Europe earlier in July.
The same message reaches me from all corners of the continent: “You know Mr. Trump, right?” they ask, wide-eyed and recalling the time I spent an hour with the President-elect in Trump Tower on November 10, 2016.
“Uh, sure, we’ve met,” I usually, cautiously respond, keen not to break their illusion that we’re obviously besties.
“Can you tell him we need his support? Tell him we are his friends, no matter what our press says?”
It’s the same story around the world, not least in Italy where I spent over a week as the new populist government was put together in rejection of Mr. Scissors from the International Monetary Fund, and in support of the left-right alliance that has come together as a result of the Five Star Movement and the Lega parties.
Such an historic event required an historic reaction from the U.S. government. President Trump has given them this reaction today in the shape of his words and actions as far as Italy is concerned.
“Today Prime Minister Conte and I are pleased to announce a new strategic dialogue between Italy and the United States that will enhance co-operation on a range of issues. This includes joint security efforts in the Mediterranean, where we recognize Italy’s leadership role in the stabilization of Libya and North Africa… they’ve been terrific”.
Terrific is quite the endorsement considering the collective liberal freak out over Interior Minister and Lega leader Matteo Salvini’s policy of stopping boats of illegal migrants landing in Italy.
President Trump went further: “Both the Prime Minister and I are focused on the urgent need to protect our nations from terrorism and uncontrolled migration. Our countries have learned through hard experience that border security is national security. They are one and the same”.
But wait, there’s more.
In the Oval Office during the two leaders’ photo-op, the president opined: “Frankly you’re doing the right thing, in my opinion, and a lot of other countries in Europe should be doing it also. Some had taken that stance a long time ago and they’re doing a lot better.”
This was no doubt an allusion to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, alongside others. Another bane of the liberal left, and recently the primary prosecutor in Europe against the vast network and influence of pro-migration organizations such as the Open Society Foundation. It was also a broadside against Germany’s Angela Merkel, who hit rock bottom in the opinion polls in her country this weekend, and perhaps less so but still against President Emmanuel Macron of France, mired in his own scandal about one of his bodyguards.
Prime Minister Conte was similarly flattering in response, having the president’s back when he was quizzed about his performance at the recent G7 summit, as well as on the president’s reactions to trade and Iran questions.
The meeting was also important because Trump is looking for an answer to Kissinger’s question the European Union had claimed to answer back in 2009: “Who do I call if I want to call Europe?”
Until now, President Trump has found few allies on the continent, relying on a personal relationship with an otherwise MAGA-antagonistic Macron. He famously has a poor opinion of Britain’s Prime Minister also, though that puts him squarely in the majority amongst British people, too.
If Conte and Trump can keep their warm relationship, it benefits them both as leaders alongside both of their nations, but also Europe as a whole.
As Spain’s new opposition leader Pablo Casado shifts to the right on immigration, abandoning his party’s historically liberal platform on the matter, we begin to see the framework of a new trans-Atlantic movement against centralization, against illegal migration, and in favor of sovereignty and the ordinary citizen.
Not satisfied with MAGA alone, it look like President Trump is moving onto MEGA — Making Europe Great Again, too.
Raheem Kassam is a fellow at the Middle East Forum, the Gatestone Institute, and a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute. He is also the author of the bestselling books No Go Zones and Enoch Was Right.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.