What to Expect From Trump’s Europe Trip
A president usually never gets a second chance to make a first impression, but President Donald Trump intends to test that proposition over the next few days in Europe.
Trump’s first overseas tour was a mixed bag of style and substance — a symbolically successful visit to Saudi Arabia and summit with Gulf Cooperation Council partners, a positive stop in Israel, yet uncomfortable friction with democratic European allies, several instant meme moments (the glowing orb, the Montenegro shove, and the white-knuckled handshake with French President Emmanuel Macron), and a fumbled policy pronouncement on NATO’s Article 5. For the past several weeks, Trump’s team has been forced to do cleanup, from having to explain that America first does not mean America alone, to reassuring European partners that the United States does indeed stand by its commitments and explaining that Trump did not provide the Saudis and Emiratis with a green light to impose a total embargo on Qatar.
So what can we expect on this trip? Here are four things to look out for.
Poland uses the Saudi playbook. This trip will have a familiar arc: By starting with Poland, Trump is visiting a country that is desperate for U.S. support and determined to make the trip a success. Polish leaders are already boasting that other countries “envy” Trump’s visit to Warsaw, and they will roll out the red carpet, even by busing people into the capital to ensure that the president is met by throngs of cheering crowds (this kind of crowd building is a tactic from Soviet days). There is a lot Trump will like there — Poland punches above its weight on defense, and it too has a nationalist government skeptical of immigrants, in love with coal, unhappy with an independent judiciary, eager to make enemies in the press, and that enjoys antagonizing the European Union. Although Warsaw does not have Riyadh’s ostentatious wealth and gilded palaces, Trump will feel at home.
Trump’s speech in Warsaw should be a rousing reaffirmation of the U.S. commitment to Article 5 — and if he whiffs on this, it will be big news. Also look for new announcements on energy cooperation and security issues, from new weapons sales to a formal roadmap for defense cooperation.