Germany: ‘bad, very bad.’ Trump tweet.
France’s brainy new president, Emmanuel Macron, said it was too bad that Donald Trump was not part of the Enlightenment. Few Americans would have understood what he meant but Europeans certainly did.
The Enlightenment was the glorious epoch in the mid-1700 and 1800’s that gave birth to modern science, philosophy, reason, and literature. Among its notables were Voltaire, Rousseau, Kant, Diderot, Hume, and Adam Smith and Benjamin Franklin.
This was by far the most delicate criticism of Trump that one hears in Europe, where he is widely regarded with contempt and revulsion. As for Trump’s business-heavy cabinet, one immediately thinks of Oscar Wilde’s acid line about men who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
Europe is in a rage over Trump’s rejection of the Paris Climate Accord, an act that also caused worldwide shock and dismay. It will please American coal miners, religious fundamentalists and those who share Trump’s view that it’s all a Red Chinese hoax.
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Meanwhile, Trump’s adversarial relations with Europe have shaken the NATO alliance and changed Germany’s view of transatlantic relations. After last week’s testy NATO summit and Trump’s tweeted attacks on Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel lashed out, ‘“The times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over.”
Merkel is a cautious, ultra-bland technocrat whose speeches are usually sleep-inducing. For her to drop such a bombshell shows how poor US-German relations have become. This fracture between Berlin and Washington has been a long time in coming…