How badly has the Trump administration damaged America’s relationship with our European allies?
Badly enough that politicians in Germany have begun to demand the ouster of Trump’s ambassador to their nation, Richard Grenell.
According to a report in The Financial Times, the Germans are outraged at Grennell’s attempts at interfering with the political process in their country with his comments on the country’s defense budget.
The latest example is a tweet sent by the U.S. embassy in Berlin criticizing the failure of Germany to meet the military outlay spending targets calculated as a percentage of the nation’s overall budget.
Ambassador Grenell in @AP on #Germany’s defense #budget plans: “reducing its already unacceptable commitments to military readiness is a worrisome signal to Germany’s 28 #NATO allies.” https://t.co/MzLpaI6Bme
— US-Botschaft Berlin (@usbotschaft) March 18, 2019
With the United States squandering more money on its military budget than the 10 next largest nations combined, Trump has been seeking to encourage our European allies to switch their priorities from providing social services to its citizens to spending their tax euros on defense appropriations instead, presumably with a good portion of the increase going into the pockets of American defense contractors and arms manufacturers.
Meanwhile, Trump continues to call for bolstering the American military budget above its already dizzying heights.
Politico Europe reports that under Germany’s latest budget plan, defense spending is set to increase to 1.37 percent of GDP next year before declining in the medium term. Members of NATO have agreed to aim to spend at least 2 percent of GDP on military budgets by 2024, well after Trump will have presumably exited the White House.
According to Germany’s leading news magazine, Der Spiegel, Wolfgang Kubicki — the speaker of Germany’s Bundestag and vice president of the Free Democratic Party — has requested that the German foreign minister “declare Richard Grenell persona non grata immediately” and withdraw his credentials.
“If a U.S. diplomat acts like a high commissioner of an occupying power,” Kubicki added, “he will have to learn that our tolerance has its limits.”
Another leading German politician, Carsten Schneider, the parliamentary manager of the Social Democrats Party, described Grenell as a “total diplomatic failure” and portrayed him as acting like a “brat.”
“This entire thing seems like the behavior of a naughty schoolboy,” Schneider said. “With his repeated clumsy provocations Mr. Grenell is damaging the transatlantic relationship.”
This isn’t the only issue that Ambassador Grennel has offended his German hosts over. Since he assumed his position last year, Grennel has worked to “empower” conservative movements across Europe, threatened to sanction the country over a pipeline that Germany sponsored, and has pushed German companies to cease operations in Iran to help the president scuttle the remaining vestiges of the Iran nuclear deal agreed to by his predecessor, President Obama, and unceremoniously and irresponsibly ditched once Trump took office.
Whether German Chancellor Angela Merkel is willing to listen to the calls of her restive legislators remains to be seen, since the expulsion of an ambassador would signal a significant and potentially fatal rift between Germany — and by extension the entire European Union — and The United States.
Still, the very calls for Grennel’s expulsion demonstrate the complete and utter failure of President Trump’s conduct of American foreign policy and add to the laundry list of reasons why he is unqualified for the presidency.
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