When will Europe realise the American president is an antagonist, not an ally?
They were right to be worried. Within hours of arriving in Europe, Donald Trump was busy insulting America’s closest friends and threatening to dismember Nato. He publicly humiliated Theresa May and did his importunate best to force regime change in Westminster, before halfheartedly apologising. Now he takes his ugly brand of rogue-male politics to Helsinki for a meeting with his best buddy, prominent campaign supporter and fellow narcissist, Russia’s Vladimir Putin. This is an ominous, possibly watershed moment for Europe, full of fear and loathing.
All of which invites the question: how far will Trump be allowed to go before leaders of the western democracies finally draw the line? How long until they recognise him as an antagonist, not an ally, contemptuous of their countries’ values and interests – and act accordingly? Germany’s Angela Merkel tried firmness. May tried flattery. The EU has tried fulmination and retaliatory trade tariffs. Others, wishfully, dismiss Trumpism as an aberration, not a strategic shift. But nothing stops him as he rampages on, malignly flattening all in his path.