German chancellor candidate says Trump win risks transatlantic collapse

German chancellor candidate says Trump win risks transatlantic collapse
Image via Wikimedia Commons.

President Donald Trump has drawn a great deal of criticism from Democrats — as well as from Never Trump conservatives — for praising authoritarian leaders like Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Philippines' Rodrigo Duterte and Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro while disrespecting the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and long-time U.S. allies like German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Germany is the largest economy in the European Union, and one of the country's leading conservatives is openly rooting for former Vice President Joe Biden and stressing that a Biden victory in November would be great for U.S./Germany relations.

Norbert Röttgen, the 55-year-old chairman of Germany's Foreign Affairs Committee in the Bundestag (the German parliament) and a high-ranking member of the Christian Democrat Party, discussed the United States' presidential election with Politico and made it clear why he is hoping for a Biden victory. Röttgen told Politico, "The current American administration is driven by a logic of punishment whenever others do not abide. It isn't possible to build a partnership on this basis."

Many European politicians, despite their disdain for Trump, are very pro-U.S. because they realize that the U.S. and the E.U. have a lot of common interests — and when the U.S. is in bad shape, there are a lot of worried politicians in Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam and Rome. Europeans, as a rule, view the United States' problems as Europe's problems, and Röttgen is no exception.

Röttgen told Politico that if Trump defeats Biden and is reelected in November, "The U.S. would see its ability to take international leadership erode further. A country that is internally divided and full of acrimony will, at some point, lose the ability to shape foreign affairs. So, we'd see the American retreat from international politics continue, creating a vacuum that others would be more than happy to fill."

Politico's Matthew Karnitschnig said of Röttgen, "That a leading German conservative would speak so bluntly about the (Trump) Administration underscores just how dysfunctional the German-U.S. relationship has become. Trump has regularly lambasted Germany since he took office over everything from its modest defense spending to its refugee policies. Attempts by Chancellor Angela Merkel to find common ground largely fell flat, and the relationship hit a new low in July with Trump's decision to withdraw about 12,000 U.S. troops stationed in the country."

Never Trump conservatives in the U.S., from MSNBC's Joe Scarborough to the Washington Post's Max Boot to members of The Lincoln Project, have been arguing that Trump's disdain for NATO is one of things that has made him a foreign policy disaster. Similarly, the conservative Röttgen believes that Trump has been terrible for U.S./Germany relations and believes that a Biden victory would be beneficial for Germany.

Röttgen told Politico, "Should Joe Biden win, I would expect his government to return to a partnership based on rational thinking and cooperation. A new American administration will understand that the goal shouldn't be to force American positions on Germans and Europeans, but rather, to find a new division of labor. Both sides need to contribute."

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