Perhaps British Prime Minister Theresa May thought that U.S. President Donald Trump could do with some sound advice from the old continent. That hope was quickly proven as wishful thinking last week: just as May was warning of the need to abide by values, Trump was signing executive orders to allow waterboarding and to shut borders to religiously identified migrants and refugees. May’s recent White House visit was a disgrace for Britain, and Trump has demonstrated that he certainly does not think he needs Europe—in fact, he seems to despise it.
Yet the United States needs a strong, stable, and inspiring Europe more than ever. Whatever Trump and his associates may think, the transatlantic relationship has not been a matter of the United States providing unilateral support to a fledgling Europe; it has supported American economic growth and its stability has provided security in areas of prime U.S. interest for decades.
Europe has no choice but to limit the chaos that Trump is unleashing, first and foremost by preventing the entire transatlantic relationship from falling apart under the dual centrifugal forces of Brexit and the new U.S. administration’s divisive policy toward the EU. And the rest of the world will need Europe to pick up the pieces of the reckless political choices being made across the Atlantic.
Rosa Balfour is Senior fellow and acting director of the Europe program at the German Marshal Fund of the United States, and member of the steering committee of WIIS Brussels.
This piece was first published on Judy Dempsey’s Strategic Europe blog.
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