Losing Friends and Burning Bridges: Here Are 5 Longtime US Allies President Trump Has Alienated, Insulted or Offended
Bill Kristol, founder of the Weekly Standard and one of the most infamous neocons, has been wrong about a long list of things—for example, insisting that the U.S. invasion of Iraq and disastrous overthrew of Saddam Hussein would usher in a new era of freedom, prosperity and democracy in the Middle East—but he did have a valid point last night when he told MSNBC’s Brian Williams that he found President Trump’s “incessant attacks on our NATO allies” to be “worrisome.” In a volatile world, the last thing the U.S. needs is to be alienating some of its long-time friends and closest allies. But Trump—from provoking a trade war with Canada to falsely claiming that Germany is taking more from the U.S. than it is giving—has been quick to offend or insult countries the U.S. has enjoyed warm relations with.
Here are five long-time U.S. allies that Trump has alienated, insulted or offended.
When Barack Obama was president, no one in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver was talking about worsening relations between the U.S. and Canada—which is a founding member of NATO and has long been one of the U.S.’ closest allies. But when the Trump administration recently announced that new tariffs would be imposed on Canadian steel and aluminum, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asserted that the tariffs marked a negative “turning point” in U.S./Canada relations. And on June 30, Canadian officials announced that billions of dollars of retaliatory tariffs from Canada against the U.S. would be forthcoming. Trump may very well go down in history as the president who got the U.S. into a major trade war with Canada. According to Lawrence Herman—a former Canadian diplomat who practices international trade law—Trump is getting the U.S. into “full scale economic warfare” with Canada, and the result will be a lot of economic pain on both sides of the border.
AndrÃ©s Manuel LÃ³pez-Obrador, elected president of Mexico in a landslide on July 1, has stressed that he would like to have a positive relationship with the U.S. but not one of subordination. Certainly, that would be in the best interest of both countries, as Mexico is the U.S.’ second largest export market in the world and about 80% of Mexican exports are sent to the U.S. But Trump has been mostly hostile to Mexico, accusing the country of exporting “rapists” and “drug dealers” to the U.S. during his 2016 campaign and repeatedly calling for the construction of a giant border wall between the two countries—which Trump still insists the Mexican government will be paying for. LÃ³pez-Obrador, however, is adamant that he has no interest whatsoever in paying for a wall and that he considers the very idea of the wall xenophobic and racist.
Germany, the largest economy in the European Union (EU) and a long-time U.S. ally, was among the countries that Trump was highly critical of at the recent NATO summit. Speaking to Jens Stoltenberg—NATO secretary general and former prime minister of Norway—Trump insisted that “many (NATO) countries are not paying what they should.” And he included Germany of being among the freeloaders that is receiving U.S. protection while giving nothing back in return. Nicholas Burns, former U.S. ambassador to NATO, was troubled by Trump’s remarks, telling MSNBC’s Shirley Zilberstein, “You cannot imagine any American president all the way back 75 years deciding to become the critic in chief of NATO. I mean, it’s Orwellian.” Further, Burns asserted, Trump is “misrepresenting the facts” because “there have been four straight years of budget increases by every NATO ally.”
The U.S. and Australia have had a close relationship for more than 100 years and were allies during World War I. But on January 28, 2017, it didn’t take Trump long to get into a heated argument with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over political refugees—and Trump angrily hung up the phone on him. Trump accused Australia of dumping refugees on the U.S., insisting that some of them could be terrorists. Turnbull has since gone out of his way to bury the hatchet with Trump, but doing so takes considerable effort.
5. The U.K.
Like Turnbull, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has tried to maintain positive relations with the Trump administration despite Trump’s often boorish behavior. But it isn’t easy, especially when Trump does things like forwarding tweets from the fascist hate Group Britain First in 2017. On Twitter, Labour Party MP David Lammy asserted, “Trump sharing Britain First. Let that sink in. The president of the United States is promoting a fascist, racist, extremist hate group whose leaders have been arrested and convicted.” And when May complained as well, Trump angrily tweeted, “@Theresa_May, don’t focus on me. Focus on the destructive radical Islamic terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom.”