How Trump and Europe re-bonded

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

This ap­peared in the Chris­tian Science Mon­i­tor:

Dur­ing his first of­fi­cial trip to Europe last week, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump was po­litely asked to back the defin­ing glue of the Con­ti­nent and the transat­lantic part­ner­ship. Both the Euro­pean Union and NATO — the core of what is called “the West” — have enough is­sues with­out the un­cer­tain­ties of Trump’s “Amer­ica First” theme of the past year. The West, ad­vised Euro­pean Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Don­ald Tusk, needs to fo­cus on “val­ues … not just in­ter­ests.”

“Val­ues and prin­ci­ples first, this is what we — Europe and Amer­ica — should be say­ing,” Tusk said. He listed a few of the val­ues as free­dom, hu­man rights and re­spect for hu­man dig­nity.

A val­ues-first ap­proach helps Europe and the United States make the nec­es­sary sac­ri­fices for a greater good. After some ini­tial waf­fling, for ex­am­ple, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has lately reaf­firmed a U.S. com­mit­ment to NATO’s mu­tual de­fence pledge, known as Ar­ti­cle 5. And since 2014, after the Rus­sian tak­ing of Ukrainian ter­ri­tory, most NATO mem­bers have re­sponded to a U.S. con­cern and are steadily rais­ing mil­i­tary spend­ing to two per cent of their gross do­mes­tic prod­uct by 2024. NATO has also promised to as­sist the U.S. more in the strug­gle against Is­lamic State and may do more in Afghanistan.

The EU also seems to be avoid­ing any fur­ther drift to­ward hard-right na­tion­al­ism. The May elec­tion of cen­trist Em­manuel Macron as French pres­i­dent, as well as the ex­pected re­elec­tion of Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel in Ger­many this fall, shows that the core na­tions of Europe re­main com­mit­ted to the EU’s prom­ise of con­ti­nen­tal peace and eco­nomic open­ness.

Just as hope­ful is the con­tin­u­ing de­sire of a few more for­mer Soviet-bloc states to join the EU or NATO. The tiny Balkan na­tion of Mon­tene­gro, for ex­am­ple, is set to join NATO next month while Ukraine and oth­ers are on track to join the EU.

The ide­al­ism of both the EU and NATO re­mains a big draw. Both are no longer merely re­gional or transat­lantic bod­ies. By stand­ing for univer­sal val­ues, they have be­come a global force for good. No mat­ter what new threats or is­sues come along, their “glue” holds them to­gether.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.