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What Trump's European visit didn't deliver

Professor Rob de Wijk (International Relations) monitored Donald Trump's recent visit to Europe. We discussed the outcomes of the different summits with the Leiden scholar. ‘This visit delivered exactly what I predicted: nothing!'

Quarrels with NATO partners in Brussel

‘It started to go wrong even before the whole circus got going. With these kinds of summits, normally everything is usually worked out carefully in advance. Before a NATO summit, the participating parties negotiate in advance what will be discussed and decided. American security adviser John Bolton led the negotiations on behalf of the United States. This kind of communiqué is normally a fixed agreement that is not subject to change.’

‘But it soon became clear that Donald Trump hadn't read the communiqué, or that he simply decided not to stick to it. During the press conference prior to the summit, he attacked Gemany. He claimed that it is strange that NATO protects Germany against Russia, while Germany buys a lot of gas from Russia. His comments linked the trade dossier with the security dossier, completely without warning, deliberately confronting NATO Secretary-General with this statement in a live broadcast. Stoltenberg was visibly disturbed when he left the meeting. He is well able to maintain his professional calm, but I could see that he was not happy.  On the second day, Trump then attacked his partners to the treaty, who, in his view, paid too little to NATO. This took place at the start of the discussion with the presidents of Georgia and Ukraine. Stoltenberg asked them to leave the room, after which NATO held a crisis meeting. This kind of conduct, too, was  unprecedented. But, ultimately, Trump achieved nothing in Brussels.' 

Trump and Poetin 'two peas in a pod' in Helsinki

‘The meeting with Russian President Putin was historic. Donald Trump clearly sided with Putin, who denied any Russian involvement in the American elections, and Trump said he believed him. That has international consequences, but it has caused a furore particularly in the United States. For the first time, the term 'high treason' was heard. Trump has  crossed a new border. He had done something similar early on by refusing to condemn an extreme right demonstration in Charlotteville, and by not signing the final declaration of the G7 summit. But this could just be a turning point.'  

Well-intended advice for Theresa May in London

‘The meeting between Trump and May played more into the hands of the opponents of Brexit than those in favour. Trump indicated that he is only willing to sign a trade treaty with the UK if there is a hard split with the European Union. Prime Minister May is currently aiming at a soft Brexit, where there will still be some degree of free movement between the EU and the UK. The UK there has to wait and see how any new trade treaty with the United States will pan out. Trump's visit has in any event made it clear to the British that the consequences of a hard Brexit will not be easy.' 

In conclusion: a new world order?

‘These visits have delivered exactly what I predicted, namely nothing at all. But one thing has become increasingly clear: the world wants to progress, if necessary without the United States. I saw this at the NATO summit in Brussels. I heard diplomats and government leaders say publicly that the European NATO partners would carry on without Trump. Their feeling is that he is so unpredictable that we can no longer rely on the Americans.' 

‘The same applies in the area of economy. A trade agreement has been signed between the EU and Japan and another is in the process of being concluded with China. These negotiations will probably materialise very rapidly. The United States is distancing itself from the rest of the world. We have reached the point where Trump's rhetoric is starting to become counter-productive. In fact, we have already passed that point.He has become a president who kicks and yells but achieves nothing. If this carries on, it can mean that the end of the American era is close on the horizon.' 

Image: NATO boss Jens Stoltenberg (left) talking with American President Donald Trump.

NATO boss visits Leiden University

Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary-General of NATO, recently visited Leiden University. He called upon the Netherlands to  invest more in defence. Stoltenberg was here at the request of Professor Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, a former Secretary-General of NATO.

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