Trump: The New Dividing Line in European Politics
Trump’s policies toward Europe represent less of a concrete reversal of the Obama Era than many Europeans feared. The United States is still solidly involved I European affairs, notably in NATO reassurance initiatives. However, “Trumpism,” a blend of irreverent rhetoric and nationalist populism, has become itself a divisive issue in European politics. Whether or not a candidate sets himself in opposition to the politics that Trump represents as a figure is now a critical criteria in many European electoral campaigns. Notably, agreeing with the president on just about anything would be tantamount to political suicide in some European contexts, notably in British politics, where Trump is so toxic that the matter of his state visit was debated in Parliament and opposed by the Speaker of the Commons.
That being said, the debates in which Trump engages — albeit not diplomatically — are not new. Prior US presidents have been hard on both NATO and European allies going back to the 1990s and the war in Bosnia. His foreign policy views are largely shared by the more isolationist wing of the Republican establishment, and he has surrounded himself with ex-military and veteran policymakers who pursue a continuation of traditional US foreign policy goals. To this end, many allies, such as Poland, have not noticed a change in U.S. policy and thus to these populations “U.S. disengagement sounds like fantasy.
The more important development, as argued by Charles Kupchan, is that the Trump Era does not represent a “world without the West, rather the West without the United States.” European leaders, notably Emmanuel Macron, have stepped up to fill the void left by Trump’s retreat from the Paris Agreement and other international treaties.