Once again, the world woke up today to an angry Trump tweet. This latest abuse of social media comes at the expense of America’s long-time ally, Germany. Coming hot on the heels of Trump’s recent exclamation that Germans are “very bad,” Trump now apparently believes the entirety of American-German relations to be “very bad.” At least his word choices are as consistent as his vocabulary is limited.
Initial reports that Trump called Germans “very bad” prompted Gary Cohn, the director of the national economic council, to explain that Trump was only upset with our trade relationship and not necessarily the country itself. Today, that seems increasingly unlikely, as the president ominously points that the relationship between both countries “will change.” What this means exactly is unknown, but earlier Trump did point to a possible ban on the sales of German cars as being one potential move that could be made.
Trump’s rants have not gone unnoticed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. At a recent campaign rally, Merkel appeared to push for European self-reliance. In the face of an increasingly erratic American president and Great Britain’s recent Brexit withdrawal from the European Union, Merkel stated that:
The era in which we could fully rely on others is over to some extent. That’s what I experienced over the past several days… We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands — naturally in friendship with the United States of America, in friendship with Great Britain, as good neighbors with whoever, also with Russia and other countries … But we have to know that we Europeans must fight for our own future and destiny.
The chancellor’s comments obviously come short of actually severing ties with America or suggesting any concrete sanctions, but, again, they point to a relationship growing increasingly sour. Merkel’s comments also come after a recent Trump visit to NATO and G7 summits which involved the president demanding NATO spend more on defense and Trump claiming he wasn’t sure if America would adhere to the Paris accord on climate change. Merkel’s patience with the president seems to be wearing thin, and her call to Europeans seems aimed to draw inward and look to internal support so as to not be as reliant on outside countries that could turn on Europe at any second.
Things don’t look great for U.S.-German relations, and there’s not really much reason for that to be the case. Trump just seems like he needs something to do.