I am a couple of days behind on this–it comes from being on vacation–but it is still worth noting that Angela Merkel’s visit to Washington was a win for President Trump. The press focused on irrelevancies, as one would expect–they didn’t shake hands during the photo-op!
But the real news is Merkel’s acknowledgement that Trump’s campaign theme, that our European partners need to pay more for their own defense, is correct. In truth the EU has been moving in this direction for a while, concerned about the Russian threat:
I was gratified to know that the President had aligned how important he thinks NATO is. NATO is of prime importance for us, and it was not without very good reason that we said during our summit meeting in Wales that also Germany needs to increase expenditure. We committed to this 2-percent goal until 2024. Last year we increased our defense spending by 8 percent, and we’re going to work together again and again on this.
European reporters, like their American counterparts, don’t seem capable of the slightest nuance. Thus, since Trump wants to put America first, he must be an isolationist! (A warmonger too, in some accounts. Go figure.) This exchange with a German reporter was entertaining:
Christine Dunes from the German Press Agency:
And then, Mr. President, America first, don’t you think that this is going to weaken also the European Union? And why are you so scared of diversity in the news and in the media, that you speak so often of — fake news — and that things after all, in the end, cannot be proven. For example, the fact that you have been wiretapped by Mr. Obama.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: A nice, friendly reporter. Well, first of all, I don’t believe in an isolationist policy. But I also believe a policy of trade should be a fair policy.
And the United States has been treated very, very unfairly by many countries over the years. And that’s going to stop. But I’m not an isolationist.
I’m a free trader, but I’m also a fair trader. And our free trade has led to a lot of bad things happening.
You look at the deficits that we have, and you look at all of the accumulation of debt. We’re a very powerful company — country. We’re a very strong — very strong country.
We’ll soon be at a level that we perhaps have never been before. Our military is going to be strengthened. It’s been depleted.
But I am a — a trader. I am a fair trader. I am a trader that wants to see good for everybody worldwide, but I am not an isolationist by any stretch of the imagination. So I don’t know what newspaper you are reading, but I guess that would be another example of, as you say, fake news.
Merkel noted that she has no problem with Trump’s putting America first:
CHANCELLOR MERKEL: (As interpreted.) Thank you very much. Well, I’m here as Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. I represent German interests. I speak with the President of the United States, who stands up for, as is right, American interests. That is our task, respectively. And I must say that I was very gratified to know the very warm and gracious hospitality with which I have been received here.
As usual, only those who pay close attention understand how well the Trump administration is doing.