German Chancellor Angela Merkel appears resigned to the fact that the sole Leadership of Europe is being thrust upon her. In more normal times, the German Chancellor would share that role with the President of France, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the President of the United States. So much has changed, however, during the past six months.
Following the British Brexit vote in late June, Prime Minister Theresa May has taken the reins of Great Britain, as it prepares to exit the European Union. It will, however, continue on as the most important European military force in NATO. In Paris, it seems obvious that Francois Hollande will soon be ousted as the President of France. And of course, the Election Victory of Donald Trump, in the United States—with his uncertain commitment to the Atlantic Alliance, and his growing fondness for Russian President Vladimir Putin—have left Merkel as the only experienced Head of State, in both the E. U. and NATO!
With eleven years of leading Europe’s largest nation, as well as the dominant economy, Mrs. Merkel is generally unflappable, decisive and able to quickly grasp complex issues. But, her aides now believe that she has recently been showing signs of stress and anxiety, ever since the American Election on November 8. An interesting article, from popular German periodical “Spiegel”, is linked as follows: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/donald-trump-angela-merkel-anticipates-frosty-relations-with-u-s-a-1128442.html. Be sure to click on the second part, at the bottom!
While watching a video of Trump’s rally in Pennsylvania, as part of his “Victory Tour”, she was flabbergasted that he: claimed a landslide victory, when there was none; blasted the Press for reporting the Truth, as it should; and the audacity to suggest that he had matured as a statesman, even when he hasn’t. Chancellor Merkel recommended that the entire National Executive Committee of the Christian Democratic Union, her party, watch the entire hour-long video of that address.
Mrs. Merkel quoted one particular remark in her recommendation, something that truly caught her attention. She cited it verbatim: “There is no such thing as a global anthem, a global currency, a global flag. We salute one flag, and that is the American flag.” Germany has been trying to make amends for what another demagogue, Adolf Hitler, did in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Never again!
Part of Angela Merkel’s anxiety is that most people, perhaps even his closest associates, don’t have any idea of what Trump’s intentions are, or what he might actually do. When various representatives of the German Foreign Ministry have contacted Trump confidantes, such as Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, or Secretary Henry Kissinger, they just couldn’t fill-in the blanks either!
The only positive note in Germany’s confusion is the high praise that every General who knows Retired General John Mathis, from Afghanistan or NATO Headquarters, in Brussels, has for Donald trump’s nominee for Secretary of Defense. They described General Mathis as a man who is not easily intimidated, and who is a champion of the Trans-Atlantic Alliance. They also believe that he will make that clear to Trump.
When it comes to Mr. Trump’s appointee for National Security Advisor, Retired General Michael Flynn, however, the German Officers unanimously hold him in contempt. One even suggested that Flynn seemed to have given very little thought to killing Afghan civilians, in Kabul, as so-called “collateral damage”. The Germans are quite concerned about Flynn coordinating National Security Policy for the President, which they believe will not be overly friendly toward the trans-Atlantic alliance.
There might be one other serious problem, just waiting to happen—a potential nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Consider the facts:
1. Donald Trump has vowed to repudiate the Nuclear Agreement with Iran. Approximately three years ago, in an address to the U. N. General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Iran was just two-or-three months away from building a nuclear bomb. Once formal negotiations, over the Nuclear Arms Agreement, began in June of 2014, however, Iran closed its labs and sent almost all of the centrifuges and plutonium out of the country. So, here we are today, and without a Nuclear-Armed Iran!
2. Early in 2016, Donald Trump suggested that he would help Japan and Saudi Arabia build a nuclear bomb. Does that really mean “build”, or perhaps just sell or give one to the Saudis?
3. Israel has already had a nuclear arsenal—not just one bomb, or two—for several decades!
Consider that, if the United States pulls back—away from Europe, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, and let’s not forget Latin America—wouldn’t that leave us embracing the same Protectionist-Isolationist Policies, which led to the great Depression and World War II? No one really knows what “Make America Great Again” is really supposed to mean. Perhaps, not even Donald Trump!
This is why Germany is concerned. Just think back to Trump’s remark, in Pennsylvania: “There is no such thing as a global anthem, a global currency, a global flag. We salute one flag, and that is the American flag.” Like Germany, the whole world should definitely be concerned. Scared even!