What Europe Now Thinks of America

Your reputation is tied to who you hang out with.

(Saturday, Jan. 9)

My parents told me this and I passed it along to my children: Who you hang out with will establish your reputation. For some in politics today, they don't care about their place in history or give a hoot about what Europe thinks about them or the United States in general. It isn't "America First" it is "Me First!" To begin with, let's stop trading with Europe. We'll show them!

If you don't care about what the world thinks of the United States, read no further. It makes no difference to you. Remain in your bubble! Just keep walking with toilet paper hanging out the back of your pants. 

"What Europe thinks of America after this week"

From Politico.com 

ADMIT IT. YOU MISS IT ALREADY. The shock, faux outrage, the buffoonery … and especially the guilty pleasure of it all. All gone. Reactions ran from “too little too late” to “Orwellian.”

But whether the decision by Twitter’s hirsute guru to lower the virtual guillotine on @realDonaldTrump late Friday was driven by the shift in political winds, pangs of conscience, or a simple desire to prepare the world for the ennui that promises to descend on politics come January 21, the de-platforming effectively ends the Trump presidency. And by the looks of it, 45 might not even be able to “Parler” either.

OF COURSE, THE WORLD’S ATTENTION has been on another French word this week — coup, literally a violent blow or strike.

Across Europe — a region that’s seen its share of political upheaval over the centuries — few doubt that the hit Washington suffered this week has shaken American democracy to its core, leaving deep cracks in the foundation. To Europeans, the “shining city on a hill” now more resembles a smoldering ruin plagued by Covid.

Or, as Tamás Deutsch, a member of the European Parliament from Hungary put it this week: “Before, Black Lives Matter, now Nothing Matters. United States of Anarchy. That’s it.”

GUTEN TAG FROM GERMANY. As you no doubt noticed, today’s Playbook originates well outside the Beltway. My name is Matt Karnitschnig and I’m POLITICO’s chief Europe correspondent, based in Berlin. A native of Arizona (no, I don’t know the guy with the fur headdress), I’ve spent the past several years chronicling the political goings on in Europe, with particular emphasis on the transatlantic relationship in the Trump Age.

And if the past few days are any indication, Europe is nowhere near to overcoming its Trump obsession.

Describing pictures of the Capitol’s ransacking as the stuff “of a bad B-movie,” former German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel warned Friday that the country had crossed a dangerous threshold (something Germans know a thing or two about).

“To threaten constitutional institutions and storm buildings has suddenly entered the realm of what’s politically palatable,” he told German radio.

IN EUROPE’S SMOKE-FILLED ANTEROOMS of yore (now sadly virtual due to Covid), the debate is whether and to what extent American authorities turned a blind eye or even facilitated the Trump mob’s insurrection plans. And after watching Trump shatter one democratic convention after another over the past four years, few are willing to give the president the benefit of the doubt.

"Today I am briefing my government that we believe with a reasonable level of certainty that Donald Trump attempted a coup that failed when the system did not buckle,” one NATO official told Business Insider.

OF COURSE, EUROPEANS NEVER MISS AN OPPORTUNITY to indulge in a bit of schadenfreude when America stumbles. But if the idea that Trump was trying to orchestrate a third-world style putsch (and not just throwing sand in the works ahead of Biden’s inauguration) seems far-fetched, consider the words of Fiona Hill, the former Trump NSC aide:

“The president was trying to stage a coup,” the U.K.-born Russia expert told The Daily Beast. “Just because it failed or didn’t succeed doesn’t mean it wasn’t real.”

In Europe, that perception has become hard reality. Biden’s win may have been celebrated in Europe, where years of Trump’s taunts and threats turned many against Washington, but that doesn’t mean the Continent is willing to forgive and forget.

If anything, the concerns over the stability of American democracy spurred by this week’s turmoil have convinced European policymakers that Europe needs to redouble efforts to emancipate the region from American influence.

CASE IN POINT: CHINA.

Just last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Europe’s de facto leader, ignored calls from Biden’s camp to hold off on sealing a sweeping investment pact with Beijing.

So it’s not that Europe didn’t get the memo that China is the one major issue on which Trump and Biden broadly agree, but rather that they care more about selling their cars there. With many Europeans fearing a return to Trumpism in four years, creating a kind of equidistance between the European Union and the U.S. in the long term seems like the safest bet.

In theory, at least. In reality, Europe still depends on the U.S. for its security vis a vis both Russia and China and would be blind without the eyes and ears of American intelligence.

THAT SHOULD GIVE WASHINGTON considerable leverage. But with Biden, an avowed “transatlanticist,” making it clear that he won’t pull the rug from under NATO as Trump threatened to do, Europe would seem to have little to fear in terms of repercussions.

And for all of the bluster of the past four years about withdrawing troops and imposing tariffs, the U.S. still needs to keep Europe happy; it’s by far America’s largest trading partner and a key strategic staging ground.

As Trump liked to say, when it comes to Europe, “We are the schmucks.”

Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.