What price sep­a­ra­tion from Europe?

Emo­tions are no ex­cuse for sug­gest­ing a split with the U.S.

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Cal Thomas Cal Thomas is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist. His lat­est book is “What Works: Com­mon Sense So­lu­tions for a Stronger Amer­ica” (Zon­der­van, 2014).

German Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel has had enough of Pres­i­dent Trump. Speak­ing last Sun­day in a Mu­nich beer hall, Mrs. Merkel sug­gested that Europe may no longer be able to rely on the United States as a faith­ful ally and that the con­ti­nent “re­ally must take our fate into our own hands.”

I had three re­ac­tions to this. The first was: You in­grate. We bailed you out twice in the 20th cen­tury at enor­mous cost in blood and trea­sure. Af­ter World War II, the Mar­shall Plan re­built your na­tion, even though your peo­ple elected Adolf Hitler and brought the de­struc­tion on yourselves.

My sec­ond re­ac­tion was: Good. It’s about time Europe started pay­ing its own way and stopped re­ly­ing on its U.S. “sugar daddy” for pro­tec­tion while na­tions fo­cused on their own economies.

Then a third thought oc­curred to me: This is pre­cisely what Rus­sia’s Vladimir Putin wants to hap­pen. Sep­a­rat­ing Europe from the United States would give him more op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­pand Rus­sian ter­ri­tory and en­gage in other ven­tures not in the best in­ter­ests of Europe, or Amer­ica.

What ir­ri­tates Mrs. Merkel and even her op­po­si­tion in the Septem­ber elec­tion, ap­par­ently, is Pres­i­dent Trump’s re­fusal to ac­cept “cli­mate change” as fact and to as­sure Europe the U.S. will honor the Paris Agree­ment signed by Pres­i­dent Obama. Mr. Trump has called cli­mate change a “hoax,” but dur­ing the G-7 meet­ing in Brus­sels he used less acer­bic lan­guage in con­ver­sa­tions with other lead­ers. Some me­dia re­ports quoted a “White House ad­viser” as say­ing the pres­i­dent’s views are “evolv­ing” on the is­sue. The ad­viser added the pres­i­dent will do what’s in the best in­ter­ests of the United States.

For con­ser­va­tives, “evolv­ing” has come to mean one’s mind is about to change to a po­si­tion op­po­site the one he once fer­vently held. Last De­cem­ber, Politico re­ported that Mr. Trump’s daugh­ter, Ivanka, who believes in cli­mate change, wants to use her po­si­tion as an ad­viser to her fa­ther to change his mind.

Europe has of­ten been on the wrong side of is­sues (Mrs. Merkel’s open bor­der pol­icy to Mus­lim im­mi­grants be­ing just the lat­est), and this time ap­pears to be no ex­cep­tion. A poll pub­lished in Fe­bru­ary by FG Wahlen for German pub­lic broad­caster ZDF, found 78 per­cent of Ger­mans “very con­cerned” about the poli­cies of Mr. Trump. That was 20 per­cent more than those con­cerned about the poli­cies of Vladimir Putin.

More ev­i­dence that a ma­jor­ity of Ger­mans are mak­ing bad choices came from an event fea­tur­ing Mrs. Merkel and for­mer Pres­i­dent Obama. For rea­sons that ap­pear to have noth­ing to do with his ac­com­plish­ments (he re­ceived the No­bel Peace Prize, an in­dul­gence in wish­ful think­ing), most Ger­mans still ad­mire Mr. Obama, as ev­i­denced at an ap­pear­ance with Mrs. Merkel in Berlin last week.

What­ever elec­toral ben­e­fit Mrs. Merkel might gain from her state­ments about Mr. Trump, nei­ther Europe nor the U.S. can af­ford a rup­ture in their At­lantic part­ner­ship. If “cli­mate change” is the main cause of the ten­sion, then a de­bate about it should take place with cli­mate sci­en­tists from both sides par­tic­i­pat­ing, some­thing that is rarely if ever seen be­cause cli­mate change fa­nat­ics be­have like cult mem­bers, ig­nor­ing all con­trary ev­i­dence and in­tim­i­dat­ing and si­lenc­ing op­pos­ing views.

While Mrs. Merkel prob­a­bly won’t carry through on her threat — she needs Amer­ica, as does the rest of Europe to keep Mr. Putin at bay — just the sug­ges­tion of a sep­a­ra­tion could be enough for Mr. Putin to try and seize more ter­ri­tory and so­lid­ify Rus­sia’s an­nex­a­tion of Crimea and his oc­cu­pa­tion of parts of Ukraine.

The part­ner­ship be­tween Europe and Amer­ica for the last 70-plus years is too im­por­tant to let emo­tions and personalities di­vide us.

IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY DANIEL MARSULA

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