The fraying of America’s relationships with its traditional European allies was on full display yesterday as Vice President Mike Pence addressed the attendees at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.
Attending the annual gathering along with a delegation that included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Christopher Coons (D-DE) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Pence opened his speech with a customarily guaranteed obligatory applause line, a greeting from his boss, the President of the United States of America.
“I bring greetings from the 45th president of the United States of America, Donald Trump,” Pence bombastically proclaimed, before pausing for a reaction from the asssembled crowd of European delegates.
The wheeze of the auditorium’s ventilation system.
But not an iota of applause, as demonstrated by the video clip of the vice president’s address contained in a tweet from Axios.
Addressing U.S. allies at the Munich Security Conference, Mike Pence is met with silence as he tells the audience: "I bring greetings from the 45th president of the United States of America, President Donald Trump." pic.twitter.com/yr7SNVhCVf
— Axios (@axios) February 16, 2019
The lack of enthusiasm generated by the mention of Trump’s name is unsurprising given the message that the vice president conveyed to the audience — a message that hewed to his money-grubbing boss’ demands that Europe contributes more to NATO than it currently does, saying that our allies “still need to do more.”
“The United States expects every NATO member to put in place a credible plan to meet the 2 percent threshold. And, by 2024, we expect all our allies to invest 20 percent of defense spending on procurement,” he said, referring to an already agreed upon target of spending at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense by 2024.
Trump’s demands for money, coupled with his threats to withdraw the United States from the NATO alliance, have led many European leaders to share America’s concern that Trump’s foreign policy is being set by Russian President Vladimir Putin, given how closely Trump’s policy proclamations track with the Kremlin’s stated goals.
With the recent announcement of the U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia — a move that places most European NATO members under an increased threat of being targeted by Russian nuclear missiles — it’s little wonder that the mention of President Trump’s name is not triggering waves of applause and admiration.
Likely, the only people who would be willing to applaud the man most responsible for hastening the arrival of a nuclear apocalypse are those like Vice President Pence who are anxiously awaiting their ascension into heaven in a pre-cataclysmic rapture. The rest of us are just as anxiously anticipating their departure.
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Original reporting by Tal Axelrod at The Hill.