Anne Applebaum writes,
Ever since it ended, a steady drip of gossip has circulated about last month’s disastrous Group of Seven summit. By all accounts, President Trump behaved far worse behind the scenes than he did in public. There was the gratuitous rudeness, including the moment he threw two Starburst candies onto a table and said, to the German chancellor, “Here Angela. Don’t say I never gave you anything.” There was aggression, as well as ignorance: “NATO is as bad as NAFTA, it’s much too costly for the U.S.,” he said at one point; to others present, he mentioned NATO, the North American Free Trade Agreement, the World Trade Organization and the European Union collectively, throwing them together as organizations he dislikes. Later, he added a twist: “The European Union was set up to take advantage of the United States. …
This is the background that you need to understand the emotions around the next NATO summit on July 11-12, as well as the Trump-Vladimir Putin meeting on July 16. For the first time since 1945, Europe is grappling with an American president who has a fundamentally different view of America’s international role. Trump no longer wants the United States to be the West’s central organizing force. He no longer cares about the benefits that role has brought, if he even understands them.
But although Trump’s dislike of U.S. allies has been clear for decades, only now is that dislike shaping into a clear policy: Europeans are bracing for a United States that no longer considers security and defense organizations to be special and inviolable. Instead, Trump sees the American commitments to all of the institutions he despises as bargaining chips, and he is prepared to use U.S. troops in Europe to force Europeans to make concessions on trade and other things. He may use his meeting with Putin for the same purpose: To intimidate the British, the Germans and others worried by aggressive Russian behavior, and to force them to do what he wants, in whatever sphere he happens to care about. Everything is up for grabs. …
Perhaps the Germans will be asked to destroy their car industry in exchange for keeping U.S. troops in Heidelberg. Perhaps the British will be told to bankrupt their farmers in exchange for promises of joint maneuvers. As for smaller countries — Estonia, Lithuania — they are out of luck: They haven’t got many chips to bargain with in this new poker game, and they can be traded away to Putin — if he wants them — at low cost. …
The other risk is that the coming trade wars take a toll, and not just on Harley-Davidson. U.S. multinationals are by far the biggest beneficiaries of the trade arrangements around the world. If American markets are no longer open to European companies, then why should Europe be open to Amazon, Facebook and General Motors? Europeans might decide to impose new tariffs and taxes — or use antitrust legislation to try to break up big American corporations.
Will the Fortune 500 and the Business Roundtable take this lying down?
I don’t think so.
I think they will finally grasp the enormity of their devil’s bargain.
I think they will come down on The Donald with hobnailed boots.