President Donald Trump is outdoing the Kremlin in ruining U.S. alliances around the world. Now, a NATO commander is warning the alliance is on the verge of collapse over Trump’s beef with US closest allies.
The bonds between Europe and North America are under strain and there’s no guarantee the trans-Atlantic partnership will survive, the head of NATO warned Thursday.
In the space of two weeks in June, U.S. President Donald Trump first baited his supposed friends into a trade war by slapping tariffs on steel and aluminum from the European Union, Canada and other nations despite protest from the leaders of all involved and against the advice of U.S. senators from both parties.
Trump argued that Russian President Vladimir Putin – still under E.U. and U.S. sanctions for the annexation of Crimea – should be invited back into the G7, before rejecting the summit’s communique and personally insulting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. All that before he met North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and called him a “very talented” leader.
This dismantling of long-established norms of global diplomacy has many wondering whether NATO, the alliance that has preserved global stability since the darkest days of the Cold War, is the next foundation block of the current world order that the President plans to uproot.
“All of that left the friends and allies of the United States wondering, who is the leader of the democratic world?” Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the previous secretary general of NATO, said during an interview with TIME. “And if that is repeated in Brussels in July it would be no less than a disaster, not only for the Western democratic world but for the democratic world globally.”
Trump’s abrupt cancelling of joint military exercises on the Korean peninsula after his meeting with Kim has also raised questions about whether war games in Europe could suffer a similar fate.
One person who will be gleefully watching the deepening of a self-inflicted schism between the U.S. and its friends overseas is a man who is no longer invited to these summits—Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Washington’s ex-envoy to Moscow, Michael McFaul.
“Putin has to do nothing to undermine the alliances and international institutions that helped to advance American security and prosperity for the last several decades,” McFaul wrote on Twitter. “Trump is doing all the work for him.”
Additionally, as noted by Business Insider, some U.S. allies are concerned by reports that Trump plans to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin when the American leader travels to Europe for the NATO summit next month as it appears that Putin has some “leverage” over Trump.