The Transatlantic Establishment has been thrown into another round of rug-chewing by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s first interview with European media, a joint interview granted to The Times of London and the German tabloid, Bild Zeitung, published Jan. 15 and 16. Leaders from France to Britain and beyond expressed outrage that Trump dared to suggest lifting Russian sanctions in return for a nuclear arms deal, to again call NATO obsolete, and to suggest that not only was Great Britain’s Brexit from the European Union a “great thing,” but, “if you ask me, more countries will leave, too.”
“They have sanctions on Russia—let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia. For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it,” Trump told his interviewers.
Changes will also occur at NATO, Trump announced: “It’s obsolete, first because it was designed many, many years ago,” secondly, European “countries aren’t paying what they should,” and also, because the NATO Alliance “didn’t deal with terrorism.”
Trump’s criticism of Russia’s intervention into Syria as a “very bad thing” that led to a “terrible humanitarian situation,” did not outrage the trans-Atlantic elite, nor his repeated statement that it was “a big mistake” for Germany to have taken in Syrian refugees.
But the same cannot be said for Trump’s reminder that what created this crisis in the first place, was the U.S. intervention into Iraq.
“This whole thing should have never happened. Iraq should not have been attacked… It’s like throwing rocks into a beehive. It’s one of the great messes of all time,” Trump said. His priority for the military as commander-in-chief? “ISIS,” Trump answered.
Obama’s Ambassador to the European Union, “leveraged finance” expert Anthony Gardner, was already apoplectic that the first question EU officials the Trump transition team had spoken to were asked was “What country is about to leave [the Eurozone] next after the U.K.?,” thus spreading the idea “that 2017 is the year in which the E.U. is going to fall apart.” (Time magazine, Jan. 13, 2017).
Now from Trump himself, came the assertion that “Brexit is going to end up being a great thing.”
The fact that The Times interview was conducted by Michael Gove is driving City of London circles wild. Gove is the leading Brexit supporter in the Conservative Party. Since he was sacked last year by Prime Minister Theresa May, it is considered another tweak, similar to Trump’s having met with Nigel Farage, founder of the anti-EU U.K. Independence Party (UKIP). Trump rubbed that one in, too, asking Gove at the end, “How is our Nigel doing?… I think he’s a great guy.”
What was reported in The Times and not Bild was his references to Germany and its Chancellor.
“You look at the European Union and it’s Germany. Basically a vehicle for Germany. That’s why I thought the U.K. was so smart in getting out,” he told the two editors. “I believe others will leave. I do think keeping it together is not gonna be as easy as a lot of people think.”