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Transatlantic Trump
How “America First” Turns Into “America Last”

In an unprecedented challenge to the U.S., Germany’s foreign minister proposes “Europe first” and making nice with Putin’s Russia.

Published on: December 8, 2017
Josef Joffe is co-editor of the German weekly Die Zeit, member of TAI’s Executive Committee and a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution.
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  • AbleArcher

    Tsk. Germany doesn’t know what it’s doing in any regard besides it’s mercantilism and currency tricks, which do serve it well at Americas expense, among others, ie Southern Europe. I’ve got no interest in what Germans think or want, or if they even think for that matter, because they likely think about how much they love the Muslims and want to wear a head scarf, or how much they love bending America over. AMERICA is already losing. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bfaaade01ce7fc139555c812a94f6bf67cb165fca48a5cadffd144209bbb6b44.png https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3f2ce4c29b735b486642ae62a761bf3c42dceb766a514f3f858780818fb9bdfd.jpg

    • Suzy Dixon

      Germany is just the spoilt child. Just like the little child that says “ i’m going to hold my breath.” Of course go ahead and let them and then they pass out and then they start breathing again and you don’t have to do anything. Your graphs are good, and there are many others that show the trade data and also not just the US, but also with southern Europe which Germany has hollowed out.

      • TPAJAX

        I can hear it now, Suzy. “Wha wha jajaja wha wha”

    • Boritz

      What the Germans think is that they have to keep control of their country out of the hands of people who would actually represent their voters. The Jamaica Coalition — Merkel’s attempt to form a government after the crippling (to her) results of the recent election — failed after being hailed as the salvation of the country. Her response: Reconstitute the Grand Coalition with the SPD despite “the party’s disaster in the September elections” which Joffe notes.
      What German and Russia have in common is they are two nations with strong anti-democratic impulses. Yes, they hold regular elections but in one they are resisted to whatever degree is possible when they don’t suit the elites and in the other they are a total sham. Not much of a distinction.

  • Gary Hemminger

    Germans have hated the US for over a decade now. I have been there many, many times and I saw the shift around year 2000. Before that the French treated Americans badly and the Germans treated us well. Now it is just the opposite. Trump had nothing to do with it. It was Bush and it never recovered after Bush left. The love affair was with Obama, not the US. This article is just more TDS.

    • Psalms13626

      I’m with you. They imported a million Muslim savages because they were going to help ease the labor shortage or something. Who cares what they think? I certainly don’t.

    • vb

      They only loved Obama to show that they weren’t racist like those horrible Amis. More copies of Fahrenheit 9/11 were sold in Germany than in the US. And the SPD kicked Helmut Schmidt out of office because he pushed for America to station missiles on their eastern border to counter the Russian buildup. And now, martin Schultz is pushing for a United States of Europe.

      None of these Cafe Einstein regulars has an idea of how normal people live, be that in their own villages, Chicago’s south side, or Eastern Europe. You rarely hear their elite challeged in the media.

  • Gary Hemminger

    No one gives a hoot what the Germans think anymore. They can go ahead and love Putin, who cares. All these foreign policy wonks are one of the reasons we have Trump. They want to do things the same way over and over again and expect a different outcome. Well I have news for you Mr. Joffe, I was not all that pleased with the outcome before. The Germans hate us no matter what we do. All of the problems in the world weren’t caused by Trump. Trump doesn’t make it cold and windy. by the way, have you noticed the economy and the market lately? Did you notice that every projection of economic growth under Obama was never met; while so far every projection of economic growth under Trump has been exceeded. Well if you didn’t notice I did. So either the economists are incompetent, or they have some bias. I think the same goes for every other elite in this country. They are 99% liberal Clinton lovers. So as long as the elite keep their TDS going, you can count on Trump continuing to win. I believe that Trumpism is a disease caused by the liberals.

  • Tom

    Given that the Germans were already waffling on Putin before Trump, blaming him for this is a bit silly.

  • FriendlyGoat

    It’s kinda hard to see what any country has to lose in cozying up more to both China and Russia, even if only in measured ways at first. Trump has told them all to “look out for themselves”. They probably will. What does that mean? Putting all eggs in the American basket when America has effectively replaced its “human rights” slogan with a never-ending spew of trash talk from The White House?

    • Psalms13626

      My favorite part about this comment? How Comrade FG puts human rights in quotes. Like, We all know that us Democrats use it only when it’s convenient. Not hiding the hypocrisy.

  • Psalms13626

    Wait… Let me get this straight….. Some neutered poodle started barking and this is news? Without men with guns to back it up, it’s just empty noise. And if Germans want to cozy up to Russia, they should go right ahead. Because you can always count on Russia to look out for Germany.

  • Che Guevara

    According to Gabriel, Germany and Europe should reconsider their old allegiances, assert their own interests, and take matters into their own hands.

    That doesn’t sound like such a radical plan. Europe looking after its own interests and taking matters into their own hands is totally natural. Would the U.S. wait for Germany to look after its interests? Then why should Germany expect the U.S. to look after its interests?
    What Sigmar Gabriel said is not so much about what he is wishing for, but about what everyone is beginning to realize but is afraid to admit, that the interests of the EU and the U.S are beginning to diverge.
    For example, Sigmar Gabriel pointed out several points of disagreement between the EU and the U.S. First, the Nord Stream II pipeline, which he called important to the EU’s economic interests, but the U.S. wants to block. Second, the Iran nuclear agreement, which the EU wants to uphold. Third, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which the EU opposes. Fourth, the U.S. wants to restart a nuclear arms race with Russia.
    On all these issues the U.S. is taking a hawkish stand, but it is Europe that will be paying a price for those hawkish policies. Joffe mentions this good article:

    • mb

      Great link. Thanks.

  • Discriminating Palate

    I am learning to scan the articles and hurry on to the reader comments. Far more informative.

  • D4x

    Josef Joffe chose to post “How “America First” Turns Into “America Last” ” on Dec. 8, 2017, focusing on a speech delivered by Germany’s possible lame duck Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Tuesday December 5 in Berlin. What is Joffe’s motive, at the end of Secretary of State’s seventh official trip to Europe, with a foreign ministerial at NATO in Brussels, serious OSCE meeting in Vienna with key bilaterals, and a very important meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon (ISGL) in Paris?

    It’s been an interesting three hours in The Swamp to get to Joffe’s mission – deflecting readers of The not-American Interest away from two stories, the ISGL meeting and France’s Macron being awarded the prestigious Charlemagne Prize, both deliberately mis-reported in America by Associated Press, VOA, Reuters, the NYT, and WaPo. Luckily, I had a head start, after reading, on Dec. 8, Lebanon PM Hariri’s statement on Jerusalem was from Paris, with President Macron and Sec Tillerson. I looked for a photo, and found this:

    12 08 2017 Macron sits between Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri, left, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and U.S.Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, right, during a meeting in Paris,Friday. It is the first major gathering of key nations to discuss Lebanon’s future since a crisis erupted following Hariri’s shock resignation last month while in Saudi Arabia. Hariri has since rescinded his resignation. Photo Philippe Wojazer, AP [from an AP report in a Midland, Texas source, because of Tillerson:]
    BERLIN (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron has been awarded a prestigious German prize for contributions to European unity in recognition of his “vision of a new Europe.”
    The International Charlemagne Prize is awarded annually by the city of Aachen, near the Belgian and Dutch borders.
    Previous winners include former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Popes Francis and John Paul II.
    Friday’s citation pointed to Macron’s “vision of a new Europe and of the re-establishment of the European project, of a new
    European sovereignty and a close, restructured cooperation between peoples and nations.”
    It said Macron’s election in May “proved once again that Europe is indeed capable of generating enthusiasm.” http://www.ourmidland.com/news/world/article/France-s-Macron-wins-prestigious-German-European-12415588.php
    [The same AP report was picked up by WTHR Channel 13, the NBC affiliate in Indianapolis, with the postmodern slur against Charlemagne “The prize ceremony is held in May in Aachen, from
    where the Holy Roman emperor Charlemagne once ruled a swath of western Europe.” Joffe’s sarcasm here “Monsieur Macron will not lead the EU into an anti-American alliance. Just look at the pomp and circumstances he bestowed on Donald Trump when he welcomed him to Paris on Bastille Day.” is The Tell: delegitimize Macron because he works so well with TeamTrump, especially on Lebanon, Turkey, and Russia.]

    Deutsche Welle, using several news sources, and Sigmar Gabriel were far more enthusiastic about ‘Monsieur’ Macron: http://www.dw.com/en/macron-receives-europes-charlemagne-prize-as-he-calls-for-calm-in-middle-east/a-41711226 French President Emmanuel Macron has received Europe’s Charlemagne Prize. At talks in Paris on Lebanon, he’s also called for Middle East calm after the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Date 08.12.2017 by ipj, dm/ng (AFP, dpa, AP) . […]Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel
    described Macron as a “stroke of luck for Germany and Europe.” https://twitter.com/sigmargabriel/status/939101836325326849

    Deutsche Welle had a very good report on Gabriel’s speech: http://www.dw.com/en/sigmar-gabriel-to-survive-the-eu-must-become-more-assertive/a-41654557 Sigmar Gabriel: To survive, the EU must become more assertive Sigmar Gabriel declared at a foreign policy forum that relations with the US will “never be the same” after Trump.
    He warned institutions like the EU and the UN that they were running the risk of becoming irrelevant.
    Date 05.12.2017 Author Elizabeth Schumacher
    […]Gabriel viewed the UN of having similar failings in its lack of clarity and ability to get anything done. Western liberal elites have failed to understand “the desire for order and clarity,” that was driving waves of populism around the world, he said.
    […]He said that Germany did not want to take a leading role, but rather stay in the middle of an international order led not by a “G20, or a G0 with no leadership,” but by a “GX” where all nations that may want to leave their mark are welcome to.
    Gabriel brushed off criticism that after 72 days without a new government, Berlin could hardly be called upon to take a prominent role in shaping global policy. “Some countries have a government without working institutions — Germany has the opposite right now,” he said.

    • D4x

      American news coverage of the very important December 8, 2017 meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon (ISGL) in Paris? Dec. 9, 2017 3:00 PM EST ‘Macron Steps Into Middle East Role as US Retreats’ New York Times
      Reuters/UK: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-france-usa-tillerson/tillerson-calls-on-saudis-to-be-more-thoughtful-in-middle-east-idUKKBN1E21RU December 8, 2017 / 8:44 AM / ‘Tillerson calls on Saudis to be ‘more thoughtful’ in Middle East’ John Irish
      [misspelled photo caption notes ISGL, but the ‘report’ does not:] U.S. Secreatry of States Rex Tillerson speaks with French
      Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian as they attend the Lebanon international Support Group meeting in Paris, France, Dec. 8, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

      PARIS (Reuters) – ‘U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday questioned some of Saudi Arabia’s recent moves in the Middle East, suggesting it should consider its actions more carefully, a rare rebuke when Washington’s own policies in the region are under fire.’ […] Dec. 8, 2017 NYT·used same Reuters photo ‘Tillerson Criticizes Saudi Arabia, Citing Its Policies in Yemen and Lebanon’ 12 09 2017 Bloomberg deliberately misleading:https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-09/tougher-u-s-tone-toward-saudi-arabia-exposes-rift-on-key-ally

      US Politics December 08, 2017 12:52 PM VOA News ‘Tillerson Urges Saudi Arabia to Curb Military Role in Yemen’ [blaming KSA for humanitarian crises in Yemen is most of VOA’s report, but, conclusion noticed]:[…] Tillerson discussed the Yemeni civil war and other Middle East issues Friday at a meeting in Paris of the International Lebanon Support Group, which includes the U.N. Security Council member nations of Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. The group also discussed ways to stabilize Lebanon by pushing Saudi Arabia and Iran to stop meddling in its politics and urging the Lebanon-based Hezbollah political party and militant group to restrict its regional activities.

      France24 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnQdTT3EV88
      AFP French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Lebanon PM Saad Hariri, President Emmanuel Macron, and Amina Mohammed, the UN deputy secretary-general: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLGejtN6KEA
      PARIS, France (AFP) […] Representatives of all five permanent members of the UN Security Council, including US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, will attend along with envoys from Germany, Italy and regional powerhouse Egypt.
      “It’s a sort of consecration, a re-legitimization for Mr Hariri,” said Hasni Abidi of the CERMAM research center specializing in Arab
      affairs. […] After Friday’s talks, Hariri will give a joint press briefing with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Amina Mohammed, the UN deputy secretary-general. […] ‘re-legitimization’ another media ‘talking point’

      Arab News’ Najia Houssari’s is a must-read NEWS REPORT: http://www.arabnews.com/node/1206276/middle-east
      Hariri: We are keen to maintain good ties with all NAJIA HOUSSARI | Published — Saturday 9 December 2017
      BEIRUT: There is no crisis in Lebanon’s relations with Saudi Arabia, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said on Friday while attending a meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon in Paris.

      “To the contrary, we see that our relationship with the Kingdom is distinctive, and we are keen to maintain these relations with Saudi Arabia, all Arab countries, and all countries of the world,” Hariri said.

      At the meeting, the international community reaffirmed its
      “support for Lebanon, its sovereignty,stability, and security, as well as improving its economic situation.”

      The meeting was chaired by the UN and France, and attended by Hariri, the foreign ministers of the US, China, Russia, Germany, Britain, and the EU, and representatives of the Arab League, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),
      the World Bank, and the office of the UN special coordinator for Lebanon. […]

      Hariri said the fragile stability in his country “appeared like a small miracle” given the wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
      “The desire of all in Lebanon is to save our democracy,” he said.

      On the fear of the permanent settlement of Palestinians in Lebanon after the US declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel,
      Hariri said that “resettlement is unacceptable, and the Lebanese constitution is clear and explicit about this matter.”

      French President Emmanuel Macron stressed that “external powers should not intervene in Lebanese affairs, and the
      self-distancing policy must be implemented in full.”
      “Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be respected by all, and Lebanon
      must restore institutions’ work and launch the reform process,” he said, “There is a security challenge in south Lebanon, and measures must continue there as well as the implementation of resolution 1701.”
      He said that “Lebanon’s stability is essential for the whole region, and it is of vital importance for Lebanon not to have its armed groups intervene in crises.” […]

      Addressing his government, Hariri said: “My government must now devote itself to maintaining the best relations with Arab states and the international community on the basis of respecting the Security Council’s resolutions, especially 1701,
      which has been contributing to ensuring stability and security in our southern border for 11 years.”
      “My government must also face the challenges associated with hosting Syrian refugees in Lebanon,
      resume reforms, and hold the parliamentary elections in May 2018.”

      Amina J. Mohammed, deputy secretary-general of the UN, said that “work will begin as soon as Hariri returns to Lebanon”, pointing out that “we are going through difficult days, and we need more hope for the region.”

      Hariri also met with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.[…]

      The group reiterated its call for “the need to fully implement and respect all UN Security Council resolutions, especially 1701.”
      It commended “the role of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in maintaining
      peace along the Blue Line and its cooperation with the Lebanese Army to extend
      and consolidate the authority of the Lebanese state over all Lebanese territories.”
      The group highlighted that “the Lebanese Army is the only legitimate armed force in Lebanon, as enshrined in the Lebanese constitution and in the Taif Agreement.” It called on all Lebanese parties to resume talks on the national defense plan.

      The group commended the efforts made by the Lebanese people and authorities to host Syrian refugees,
      recalling “the importance, when conditions allow, of a safe,dignified and non-coercive UN-facilitated return of refugees, in accordancewith international law and humanitarian principles, including the principle of non-refoulement.”

      [Non-refoulement (/rəˈfuːlmɒ̃/) is a fundamental principle of international law which forbids a country receiving asylum seekers from returning them to a country in which they would be in likely danger of persecution based on “race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion”]

      Bonus for learning about UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, and a Real News Source, International Press Syndicate, which covers the UN, plus, finally an assessment of Trump at the 72nd UNGA, better late than never. Likely the December 8 Paris meeting of the ISGL with so much UN support was NOT a lucky coincidence, but a carefully planned event, thanks to TeamTrump and ‘Monsieur’ Macron.
      09 19 2017 President Donald Trump and and First Lady Melania Trump arrive at UN headquarters for the general debate of the General Assembly’s 72nd session with Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed UN Photo Rick Bajornas.
      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/47e5518a3b6eaa7da767089bb21167e99987e0998840036646fd7b8327cb00d9.jpg https://www.indepthnews.net/index.php/opinion/1375-trump-opted-for-making-the-un-great-omitting-the-word-again 09 21 2017 Trump Opted for Making the UN Great (Omitting the Word “Again”) Viewpoint by Hugh Dugan*The author is Visiting Scholar at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and former senior advisor to eleven U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations.

      Instead of working so hard, or so little, to bury real news with deliberate distractions like Joffe “faulting Trump for dismantling America’s ancient multilateralist tradition”, TAI should get Hugh Dugan to write for your subscribers. He even has impeccable credentials:

  • CapitalistRoader

    I think demographics has a lot to do with President Trump’s willingness to chastise the cheap Europeans for not wanting to pry open their wallets to provide at least a modicum of self defense. Simply put, the US is a very different country demographically today than in 1917 and 1941 when we ran to Europe’s defense. Back then the US demographics were similar to German demographics today: 90% European. Today that’s dropped closer to 60% and among school age children it’s closer to 50%. To put it bluntly, we’re just not into you anymore.

    Considering that most Germans wouldn’t even help out their nearest neighbors if attacked, don’t expect a racially diverse United States to come running to the defense of a bunch of lily-white Europeans if old Vlad rolls the tanks in.

  • Jim__L

    Germany cozying up to Russia is hardly “unprecedented”. It dates back to Helmut Kohl, probably before.

    It baffles me to see serious foreign policy thinkers being so shocked, shocked! to find countries pursuing their own self-interest wherever they find it.

    • CapitalistRoader

      Germany cozying up to Russia is hardly “unprecedented”. It dates back to Helmut Kohl, probably before.

      Quite a ways before: Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact

      • Jim__L

        They first partitioned Poland in 1772, didn’t they?

  • Jeff77450

    DJT asks Europe to pay something approaching their fair-share for their defense and their response is to distance themselves from us. It reminds me of the articles that I’ve read about some states requiring SNAP (food-stamp) recipients to work x-number of hours per week to receive benefits at which point they quit.

  • PhillipNagle

    It really is time for Europe to start providing for its own defense and protect its own shipping lanes. Europe faces no military threat that it cannot handle if it has the will. Also, it is time for the US to treat other countries equally when it comes to trade. This includes demanding reciprocity. If a country uses protectionism against the US, the US will retaliate or if a country discriminates against US companies, the US will retaliate.

  • Otis

    The idea that Trump is somehow driving the Germans into the waiting arms of Putin is bizarre. Gabriel and much of the SPD have always been Russlandversteher in a big way. However, they just got clobbered in the last elections, and their accommodationist attitude toward Russia does not hold for the entire German political class – http://go.carnegieendowment.org/ZPV3A03fo010090MK00nVPE.

  • Michael DeStefano

    Gabriel is accusing Russia of ‘expansionism’ (yet willing to look the other way)? Is that it? Seems pretty clear that any Russian ‘expansion’ into Crimea was the direct result of NATO’s coveting of the Sevastopol naval base to begin with, part and parcel of the Maidan upheaval. I believe it was in fact NATO’s 2nd try at the brass ring, Yushchenko’s lease cancellation attempts being the first.

    No sense in denying the undeniable. NATO expansion has always been the underlying problem. It has been ever since it decided a barrage of ‘gentlemanly assurances to the contrary’ to Gorbachev was just much ado about nothing, contrary to the recently released batch of said ‘assurances’ bearing witness to. No, it wasn’t a few casual words open to misinterpretation here and there. It was a disingenuous campaign of clear cut subterfuge, a mere means of convenience to an end. I don’t disagree with the goal. I disagree with dishonesty to reach all goals in general. It’s a knave’s tool and one need not be surprised when it’s treated as such.

    Now then, shall we talk about ‘expansionism’ again, now that our heads have cleared?

  • Europa

    It is hard for Berlin to speak for Germany when Brussels rules over her. It is equally hard for Germany to speak for Europe when the EU government supersedes the governments of her member nations. That is part of the price of the European Union where most of her politicians including 4 of her 5 Presidents are appointed to office and not elected
    The EU is one of the world’s largest Bureaucracies whose politicians are appointed, not elected. The EU is not a representative form of government. It is closer to an autocracy.

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