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Consequences of the G7 Fiasco: “It Wouldn’t be Wise Writing Off the U.S.”

Donald Trump made a debacle at the G7 summit. Foreign policy expert Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff on the question of whether the West is at an end. An interview.

Mr Kleine-Brockhoff, US President Donald Trump dupes his key partners on the open stage, making the G-7 summit a farce, then resubmitting subsequent pledges . Are we experiencing a turning point in history?


We are in the midst of a crisis in the West, in which different ideas clash, which should connect us or connect us. Under the leadership of the United States, since the end of World War II, the West has sought to promote a rule-based order based on democratic values. The Germans were big profiteers of this order and are still their most zealous defenders. But Donald Trump has a culturalist idea of ​​the West. He sees him as a community of traditional values, which in the end sees itself as a kind of anti-Muslim defense alliance. He spelled that out in a speech in Warsaw. Trump also sees Russia as part of this community, not as a country that breaks rules and values ​​through aggressive behavior – with the occupation of Crimea and in eastern Ukraine.

How should one still make arrangements with a president who first signs a joint communique and then withdraws his consent?

Dealing with Donald Trump will be a big challenge. But we should not forget that we are also experiencing the crisis of the West in Europe. New Italian Prime Minister Conte, on the basis of the same ideas, has agreed with Trump to bring Russia back to the G8. Only the other Europeans could dissuade him. We should not believe that this is just a European-American dispute. These crisis symptoms can be found in many western countries, including Germany.

Is the action of the American president following a plan, or is it just emotionalism and unpredictable machismo?

It is often difficult to separate that. There are motives in Trump, who have a long history in his thinking and he represents very consistently. Therefore one should not underestimate the continuity and the will to assert these thoughts. But that does not mean that it follows a coherent world view in all areas.

Does that mean that his foreign policy obeys above all domestic political goals?

Satisfying his constituents is very important to him. His foreign policy is shaped by a concept that sees rules, institutions, alliances in a different light. He tries to exploit any power gap with allies. This is what the Europeans and above all the Germans encounter.

That means practically?

We should, at the very least, seriously consider whether Trump’s proposal at the summit to forgo as many tariffs and trade barriers as possible within the G7 is not in our interest.

But Donald Trump has always fought international trade agreements, be they transatlantic or trans-pacific …

True, that is a contradiction, but nevertheless his proposal deserves an examination. It is remarkable that he is not talking about protectionism, but free trade. On this basis we can talk.

Without the US, the West can not make an impact in the world. We are experiencing a crisis of various institutions – in the culmination at the G7 summit, we could observe this as through a magnifying glass. Trump distrusts multilateralism. He no longer shares the notion that international institutions legitimize and reinforce American action. He sees alliances as a burden, not a blessing for his country. He sees all international organizations with short names skeptical, be it the UN, the WTO, Nafta or the EU.

German foreign policy has undertaken to save the rule-based order. Are there enough partners in the world beyond the United States?

G7 summitTrump withdraws yes to the final declaration

One should not assume that the US is lost to this project. Mr. Trump is lost for this project. The incumbent US president is powerful, but not powerful enough to destroy the West. The United States is a vibrant democratic society. Not only the opposition, but also Republican leaders are advocating a rule-based order. What Trump is doing is extreme within the American spectrum, and by no means the last word of the Americans. It would not be wise to write off this important partner now.


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