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Published On: Sat, Mar 18th, 2017

Merkel’s Visit to Washington – America First But Ease in Trans Atlantic Partnership?

nsnbc : U.S. President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel started their “German Chancellor must visit Washington” visit somewhat awkwardly when Trump wouldn’t shake hands with Merkel. The visit ended, not surprisingly for anybody who knows post WW II trans-Atlantic dynamics on friendly notes.

Merkel_Trump_Washington D.C._USA_Mar 2017U.S. Media would tout the meeting as a meting between two of the world’s most powerful leaders even though positioning Merkel or any Germany leader as “one of the world’s most powerful” is – for many analysts, a carefully maintained myth. Every more or less educated German knows it and media position those journalists who are violating the taboo as “conspiracy theorists” – anyway – the matter of fact is, the 2+4 treaty is no peace treaty and Germany still takes orders from Washington and in part London. Don’t take our word for it – just read the original documents instead of Wikipedia.

Notably, Trump, somewhat arrogantly and to the visible annoyance of Merkel, did not shake hands as they sat for photographers in the Oval Office after their opening conversation. A handshake from Trump had to wait until the news conference, following their two-hour-long talk. Both made – not surprisingly – more reconciliatory statements.

Trump did not bring up the rhetoric against Merkel and Germany which he used when he was running for president last year, when he said Merkel’s policy of welcoming immigrants was “ruining” her country and much of Europe. Just imagine what outcry there would have been if Germany had not received refugees – and what media would have alluded to.

Sigmar Gabriel – before he became Germany’s new  Foreign Minister.

And Merkel was somewhat more restrained in her comments about the immigration controversies in the United States since Trump took over the White House. The problems of “migration, immigration, integration have to be worked on, obviously,” Merkel said, adding: “But this has to be done while looking at the refugees as well, giving them opportunities to shape their own lives where they are. … I think that’s the right way of going about it. And this obviously is what we have an exchange of views about.”

Trump, who once famously called NATO “obsolete,” now reaffirmed his support for the “Washington dominated” alliance, and Merkel said she was “gratified” by that. Trump repeated however, previous criticism of allies who he says are not accepting their fair share of the defense burden. It is noteworthy that about half of Germans would like to see Germany maintain a neutral position with equally good relations (and distance) to Moscow and Washington and that about half don’t see Germany as permanently anchored in NATO. What many Germans perceive as a litmus test for Trump is whether his appreciation of  “patriotism” is purely based on “America first”, or if he – as unlikely as it is – will recognize that Germany, decades after the end of WW II still has no peace or full sovereignty.

That mentioned, Trump commented “I reiterated to Chancellor Merkel my strong support for NATO, as well as the need for our NATO allies to pay their fair share for the cost of defense,” the U.S. president said. “Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years, and it is very unfair to the United States. These nations must pay what they owe.” Trump also noted that he will move the United States toward protectionism, as he has been portrayed by many European media, but he repeated that he will seek better deals with trading partners.

“I don’t believe in an isolationist policy,” the president said. “But I also believe a policy of trade should be a fair policy. And the United States has been treated very, very unfairly by many countries over the years, and that’s going to stop.” Merkel, for her part emphasized the need for trade deals that benefit both sides. “I think it’s only fair, and that’s the purpose of concluding agreements: Both sides win. … And that’s the sort of spirit in which we ought to be guided in negotiating any agreement between the United States and the EU. I hope we will come back to the table and talk about the agreement between EU and the U.S. again.”

CH/L – nsnbc 18.03.2017

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