For the past 70 years, the United States has set the direction and tone of U.S.-European relations. According to one former U.S. NATO envoy, the era of the United States leading and Europe following appears to be coming to an end. In an interview with the New York Times, Ivo H. Daalder said, “Today, the United States is heading into a direction on key issues that seems diametrically opposite of where Europe is heading.”
This change in direction was apparent during President Donald Trump’s recent trip overseas in which he met with NATO allies and other G7 leaders. During a speech at NATO’s new headquarters, President Trump openly criticized other NATO members for not meeting their financial obligations to the organization. Even more notable, the president declined to endorse Article 5 of the NATO treaty.
Article 5 is the backbone of the alliance and states that an attack on one member nation is an attack on all members. During the trip, the president was also highly critical of Germany and other allies for what he considers unfair trade practices. President Trump was also the only G7 leader who did not participate in a pledge to support the Paris climate deal.
At a campaign rally in Munich, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her dissatisfaction with the apparent change in the U.S. position. “The times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out,” she said. Merkel went on to say that Europe must be ready to take charge of its own destiny.