Margot Wallström, who served as Sweden’s foreign minister until last year, said: “It’s like a roller coaster, even when Trump mysteriously warns his supporters, ‘look at the What was happening last night in Sweden. “
“It was erratic behavior from the chairman and his team,” said Wallström, “so you never know how this could end.”
Trump spent four years tearing down American policies that many Europeans see as key to their security interests. Sometimes, policymakers here feel, he makes concrete decisions because he knows it will make them angry. They broke up when he pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord. They have spent years holding the Iran nuclear deal together, which has faltered since he denounced it and imposed new sanctions on Tehran. They were furious at his admiration of the dictatorial leaders and his hatred of them.
And as they became the target of his hilarious mirror approach to distorting the truth, they realized it was incredibly confusing, such as when the Swedes found themselves searching for exactly what was happened the evening before in their own country.
“When we heard it, we wondered, ̵6;What? What happened last night? ” Said Wallström. Trump later said that he was referring to a misinformation segment about the Swedish exodus he saw on Fox News.
Trump is not unpopular in Europe. His 2016 elections provided an energy source for the black continent’s populists. The right-wing leaders of Poland and Hungary – who have been punished by the European Union for demolishing courts and sabotaging their opponents – get along well with him. Slovenia’s far-right prime minister posted a tweet last week announcing Trump’s victory.
But most of the leaders here would be glad to see Trump turn his back and be eager to swap him for a more conventional partner.
Boris Ruge, deputy German ambassador to Washington, said: “You have people working in the White House, up to the national security advisor, who sometimes is completely surprised by the decisions the president makes “.
Ruge said he was once in the White House discussing Iran policy when there was an “important” announcement from the president about the Iran nuclear deal without the people working on the file unaware. “At the end of the day, on a wide range of issues, you cannot be sure of US policy until you hear from the president himself,” he said. “That was different.”
Biden’s “first day” promises alone could fill the European favorites list. He said that he would immediately join the World Health Organization by executive order. The same goes for the Paris climate accord, only he says he wants to harden it.
“On the first day, if I win, I will talk on the phone with our NATO allies and say we are back,” he told Phoenix TV KPNX in July. “We’re back and you can count on us again.”
Biden also wants to revert to the Iran nuclear deal, though that could take longer.
But with Trump’s allies still in control of the Senate, at least for now, and gaining an interest in the House of Representatives and in state legislatures across the country, some Europeans argue. Mr. Biden’s presidency may only provide a temporary respite from a longer-lasting inward-looking US – Recognition and skepticism of global entanglements. And there’s a bipartisan deal in Washington on issues ranging from Europe’s greater need for greater defense spending to concerns about China’s role in the world, issues that have strained during the Trump era and will did not disappear during the Biden presidency.
“The relief many feel here should not overwhelm the fact that those people are there. Trump has created a movement that will continue, ”Ruge said. As Europe would still have to work on both sides of the aisle, some of the happier comments from Berlin were “badly advised,” he said.
Some European policymakers, however, are likely to ignore Trump’s self-relieving mood. In NATO, diplomats carefully compiled their summits to reduce the likelihood of the US President withdrawing from the alliance for a short time.
US diplomats “will ask us not to praise him too much when we meet him face to face at the summit,” said Tomas Valasek, a Slovak legislator who was once the ambassador to his country. at NATO before the first summit with Trump in 2017. “He the diplomats don’t want him to know too much about what his administration is doing for NATO and against Russia, because they don’t think that the president will approve “.
After Trump purposely avoided mentioning an all-for-one, all-for-one defense pledge at the 2017 summit, the diplomats the following year signed a series of pre-conference agreements. second summit so that Trump cannot derail. He mostly does, by threatening not to protect nations if their leaders don’t increase on-spot military spending.
Last year, the NATO summit was shortened to half a day – as much as possible to avoid Trump’s mischief – and moved to London, so that he wouldn’t be pissed off by NATO’s expensive new headquarters in Brussels, diplomats said.
“We knew his instinct was to get the United States out of NATO, so we felt more relieved,” Valasek said. “Whatever the Biden era might throw at us would be better than the uncertainty over whether alliances exist or not.”
The election shows a country “more divided than ever before,” said Norbert Röttgen, chairman of the German parliament’s foreign policy committee and candidate for leadership of the Christian Democratic Party. from Chancellor Angela Merkel. “Fixing these rifts will take a lot of time and energy for the Biden administration,” he said.
He said he welcomed a return to “multinational cooperation” and that he looked forward to changes in climate and foreign policy. “But it won’t go back to the good old days,” he said.
Among the leaders who have dealt with Trump and his subordinates, there is excitement about going back to more conventional diplomacy. At a meeting last year between the ministers of the Arctic Council, which includes the countries surrounding the Arctic, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo interrupted the proceedings when he declined to mention climate change in the Regular statement brought the diplomats to order marching afterwards. Wallström, the former Swedish foreign minister, said.
Climate change “is part of every discussion, of course, it’s part of every story about the lives of people living in the Arctic,” she said. “This is completely ridiculous.”
In the end, the meeting falls apart without consensus.
“It was an emotionlessness that I almost never experienced,” she said. “It was awful, it was terrible. They just impose their power on others ”.
Birnbaum reported from Riga, Latvia, and Morris reported from Berlin. Luisa Beck in Berlin also contributed to this report.