Donald Trump has been president for just 128 days, and the world is already near-unrecognisable. His incompetency on the global stage has seen age-old relationships falter, and with this, the entire nexus of Western geopolitics has shifted. Whereas Obama once stated that”This is as important a relationship as I’ve had during the course of my presidency” about Germany’s Angela Merkel, highlighting close, amicable US-EU relations, it is clear that Trump’s America is altogether different. It is difficult to remember a time in which the United States has been more distant from Europe, or in which such a strong geopolitical bond has deteriorated so quickly due to the will of one man. Merkel, normally a relatively understated speaker, struck a defiant, revealing tone on Sunday, stating that “The times in which we could rely fully on others, they are somewhat over”, with the clear context of the previous day’s G7 summit. The underlying message being as obvious as it is appalling- that Europe can no longer rely on the United States as a close ally. The publication of confidential intelligence from the UK in the US press also drew sharp criticism of Trump, this time from the UK, in the wake of the Manchester attacks.
There is serious discord then, between the two most powerful Western blocs, that of the EU and the USA. This is a major, major issue. The damage from Trump’s first foreign trip does not stop there. At a NATO summit, Trump neglected to endorse Article 5, with is an omission of such gravity that it sent diplomatic tsunamis through military and geopolitical circles. Namely, Article 5 is the Collective Defence clause and the most important clause of the original NATO treaty, the concept being that an attack against one member is an attack against all members. It was a key part of keeping Western nations safe in the Cold War, and it is of great historical and strategic significance. So for Trump to not endorse at this conference, as new leaders are expected to, is appalling. Why?
Article 5 has only ever been invoked once, in response to the 9/11 attacks on the United States, which essentially launched the War on Terror. Allies responded in force and paid in blood. Britain lost 454 soldiers in Afghanistan, Canada lost 158, France lost 89 and Germany lost 57, among many other significant national contributions.
The United States is thus the only country to ever invoke Article 5, and yet now hesitates to endorse it. It is unacceptable for the US to be ‘picking and choosing’ after so much blood has been spilled in their name by allies. This then, is rock bottom.
Elsewhere, Trump looks likely to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which would be a hammer blow due to importance as the world’s second biggest polluter. Whilst China is taking great strides both in environmental policy and technology, America is looks set to be resting on it’s laurels, plunging back down the mineshafts in search of coal. Regression isn’t a strong enough word to describe the Trump administration’s environmental policies in comparison to that under Obama, though perhaps we had good warning of this with his plan to gut the EPA.
Trump’s associations with Russia are never far from the news, and with every leak that emerges, it is increasingly clear that there is significant substance to these rumours. These are well documented in articles in both the New York Times and the Washington Post that cover this in better detail than I will go into here. They say that ‘where there is smoke, there is fire’, and there is so much smoke right now that it is difficult to see your hand in front of your face. I doubt we will see anything approaching the truth until decades after the Trump administration, but with every piece of the jigsaw that falls in place, the cries for impeachment grow only louder.
Trump’s campaign ran on an anti-establishment platform, and a key part of that was penetrating the American consciousness with the concept of ‘fake news’ and how the mainstream media (MSM) is the enemy. Trump’s MSM is a broad church, with virtually every news organisation apart from Fox and RT included. The NYT and WaPo, representing the cream of America’s media organisations, have been particularly strongly attacked. On the face of it, this is just a quirk of Trump’s presidency and character, though calling them ‘the enemy of the people’ is obviously extreme. Some news channels can indeed be accused of being ‘too far left’, and perhaps publishing biased articles- but every media organisation has its own leanings. Trump’s attack is significant because his constant tirades about ‘fake news’ have decimated public trust in the media, and this is a major problem. Trump can now dismiss any negative story as ‘fake news’, deceiving the American people and making it very, very difficult to distinguish between the truth and a lie. Trump’s attacks on the media are an assault on the critical thinking of the American people, an attempt to neuter one of American democracy’s strongest assets- an inquisitive, tenacious media.
Taken apart, these events are already troubling, but when pulled together by a common thread, they are nauseating. That common thread, invariably, is Russia. One country and one country alone is benefiting from all of this, and it is isn’t difficult to work out who. There is obvious evidence that Russia strongly interfered in the US election, as confirmed by sources in the FBI and Department of Defense, helping to secure a victory for their preferred candidate, Donald Trump. Whereas before there were peace and a united front, the West appears to be fracturing before our eyes, creating a far weaker bloc in opposition to Russian aggression. NATO, the EU, the G7- all vital partnerships and all faltering. Vladimir Putin has played a long game and an incredibly smart game, and it is undoubtedly winning. Russia’s harnessing of social media and technology to interfere in US politics will be studied for decades to come, and it represents a step-change in cyber warfare. They are very obviously already reaping the benefits of this, particularly geopolitically.
Simultaneously, Russia has managed to carve out a positive image of itself, particularly within the left in the West. In Syria, Russia is seen to be ‘sorting it out’. In Ukraine, Russia was ‘opposing Nazis’. It’s time to call Russia out for what it really is. In Syria, regardless of the geopolitics, Russia is propping up a dictator who has undeniably gassed his own citizens and has committed a mind-boggling array of sickening atrocities. Russia’s displays of air power might be impressive in Syria, but accusing the West of causing civilian casualties when Russia is literally carpet bombing areas a la the Second World War is galling, to say the least. In Ukraine, Russia used ‘hybrid-warfare’ to invade a sovereign European state, capturing land of strategic significance to Russia in the Crimea. In both theatres, Russia has been accused of war crimes.
This is the same Russia that influenced an American election. People appear to have short memories, but it is not so long ago that the UK had the ‘British Army of the Rhine’ to delay a Russian attack through Europe, and that US troops were stationed across Europe. It is hard to imagine cooperation on that level in the wake of Trump’s NATO, G7 and EU summits. He is withdrawing from the world, taking America’s superpower status with him. The Cold War may have ended, but a new Cold War has just begun- and Russia is winning. What is more, Russia is winning unopposed.
128 Days Later? The world is unrecognisable, and it is clear that Trump must go.
But of course. Fake News.