With an Ally Like Trump, Europe Must Become More Autonomous
On November 23rd, Le Monde published an op-ed written by Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer and Martin Quencez on the implications of Trump’s election for transatlantic relations. They argue that Trump’s so-called pragmatism in foreign affairs is overstated and that the first nominations of his future administration show that the next U.S. administration may be much more ideological than anticipated. They also question the idea that the U.S. has entered into a period of isolationism, and argue that the defining characteristic of Trump’s foreign policy could rather be unilateralism. While Europeans are concerned about Trump’s disengagement from Europe, they might as well be prepared to face a more unilateral, and potentially hawkish Trump administration, especially with regards to the war against the Islamic State. Similarly, the militarization of the U.S. engagement in Asia, replacing the so-called rebalancing strategy, could lead to rising tensions with China and create new divisions within the transatlantic partnership. Trump’s Russian policy and willingness to revise the Iranian nuclear deal might also create further alienation. Unpredictability will characterize Trump’s relationships with other powers, that try to anticipate Trump and his advisors’ geopolitical “red lines”: will they be ready to trade off certain aspects of European security in order to reach a deal with Russia in Syria? What would be the reaction of the next administration if a NATO member states gets subverted by Russia? In this context, the French presidential election results might facilitate a French-American joint approach to aim for a rapprochement with Moscow. In order to prevent the potentially critical geopolitical implications of these questions, European leaders will have to demonstrate their capacity to be strategically less dependent on Washington, while trying to influence the Trump administration on key economic and diplomatic issues. Redefining a common transatlantic agenda in a time of political turmoil of both sides of the Atlantic will be a real challenge.