Hawaii Intelligence Digest, 16 January 2017, 17:10 hrs, UTC, Post #86.
Reporter: BBC Berlin Correspondent Jenny Hill.
Please click link to read the full story.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeir tells BBC Berlin Correspondent Jenny Hill that comments made by President-elect Donald Trump in an interview with UK Justice Secretary Michael Gove for “The Times” and “Bild’s” Kai Diekmann are “worrisome” for NATO allies.
Despite claims made by Secretary of Defense nominee James Mattis that NATO “is central to U.S. defense”, Mr. Trump apparently thinks the defensive capabilities of the group are over rated and insufficient to meet Russian threats. Trump called NATO “obsolete” and stated that it “wasn’t taking care of terror” and that only 5 of its member nations were paying “their fair share.”
During the interview, Mr. Trump said German Chancellor Angela Merkel had made “a catastrophic mistake” by admitting more than a million refugees to Europe. Mr. Trump also threatened to impose high tariffs on German car manufacturers.
According to BBC Berlin Correspondent Jenny Hill, Mr. Trump’s views were not received well by most German citizens:
“Donald Trump’s comments have caused dismay, concern – but perhaps not surprise – in Berlin. Few expected the new transatlantic relationship to echo the warm and trusting alliance nurtured by Angela Merkel and Barack Obama, who was a vocal supporter of Mrs Merkel’s refugee policy.”
“There is anger, too. Germany’s outspoken Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel retorted that the migrant crisis was the result of “faulty, interventionist American policies in the Mediterranean and Middle East”.
“That Mr Trump should take aim at Germany’s car manufacturers has also raised eyebrows, though few here believe his Congress would approve the 35% tax he appears to be threatening to impose on imported vehicles.”
“Germans were largely unimpressed by Mr Trump during his election campaign and now, despite his own German heritage, the president-elect is doing little to endear himself.”
Whether this “in-your-face” approach to US relations with the European Community, NATO, and the Russian Federation will remain the norm once Mr. Trump assumes office on 20 January 2017 is unknown. For now, most political leaders in Europe and Russia are taking a “wait and see” attitude until Mr. Trump settles into the Oval Office.
One thing is for sure. The once “cozy” relationship with Europe established by outgoing President Barack Obama is gone. A new confrontational style advocated by Donald Trump will present new challenges to both the United States and the European Community. The only winner in this face-off is the Russian Federation, where European disunity and uncertainty about U.S. intentions will play in Vladimir Putin’s favor. The only winner of this debate is Russia, which is gradually reasserting itself in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The Russian Federation is playing the “long game” in Europe and will see success in the years ahead as the United States becomes more isolationist and protectionist.
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Hawaii Intelligence Digest