On Friday, Donald Trump had his first meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. At the press conference after their meeting, President Trump affirmed America’s “strong support” for NATO, though noting, as American presidents have for years, that NATO members need to “pay their fair share” of the cost of defense.
“Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!”
But then, following what was supposed to be a serious meeting with Chancellor Merkel, President Trump tweets something like this. I guess he thinks this is how diplomacy works. It’s like one big business deal. You make big demands, scaring the other side into making concessions, and then you get what you want.
The problem is the world is different from a construction contract to build a casino. You can’t just walk away from other countries and deal with another contractor. There aren’t other contractors. And some of those other counties have nuclear weapons.
If the United States has an ineffective or unreliable president for domestic matters, we can get by. It won’t be good, but our economy is strong enough to struggle through four years of a president who spouts off and/or doesn’t get much done. We’ve done it before; we can do it again.
It’s different in foreign relations. In dealings between countries, an ineffective or unreliable president is downright dangerous. If countries think they can’t trust us or rely on us, they will go their own way, without necessarily knowing which way they should go. Other countries might think they can take advantage of a country whose leader is scaring its friends away. The result is a world with countries not knowing who is going to do what or whom they can rely on. It would like a NASCAR race with 16-year olds who haven’t completed drivers ed, and some of them thinking they're the smartest driver in the world.
The world with Donald Trump as President of the United States will become a more dangerous place. The United States will be less safe, and we will have fewer friends. I hope we can get through it.
UPDATE (3/19/17 12:12 am): I made a slight change to the last sentence of the penultimate paragraph to better state my meaning.