Is Donald Trump trying to drive away US allies?
By Joe Harker
US President Donald Trump seems to get along better with dictators than democratically elected leaders. The nations that have historically been the closest allies of the US are on the receiving end of his trade wars and the sharp edge of his rhetoric. He talks about how they have taken the US for a ride while praising the personalities of dictators that rule nations the US has normally opposed or competed with.
Europe stands united against Trump's America in the face of his trade war but a better understanding may be reached at the NATO summit this week. Brussels will play host to the members of NATO this week and The Times reports that there is an overwhelming fear that the US will withdraw from the organisation. They say this meeting comes during a period of "unprecedented strain" as Trump attacks his allies and sucks up to his rivals.
Without the US, what exactly is NATO for? If Russia is the main opponent of NATO then Trump sucking up to Russia undermines the organisation. US military might is the linchpin of NATO and without it the alliance of nations looks far more fragile. The alliance requires members spend two per cent of their budget on defence but almost every member fails to meet that target, instead relying on the US to pick up the slack.
Much of the world lives under "Pax Americana", the relative peace after World War Two underwritten by US hegemony. They are the only top tier power in the world, both militarily and economically. They are the only global superpower, though the likes of China and Russia are also mighty in their own regard. The American Empire is one built of hegemonic dominance over much of the world, underwritten by the guarantee that their intervention would tip the balance of power anywhere if they chose to act.
However, Trump's actions could bring an end to Pax Americana as allies realise they cannot rely on him. Trump practices an America First policy and many believe he is making the US more isolationist by doing so.
Writing in The Atlantic, Eliot A Cohen argues that Trump's presidency is ending the American Era. He argues that Trump has done a lot of damage to the US' image but the real problems lie below the surface. A President whose opinions on the nations world are shaped by how much they flatter him is dangerous and leads to a world that decides if it can get by without the US. Deals are being struck to work around the US and it risks being left behind in an isolation of its own making.
If Trump wants to drive away allies he appears to be succeeding, but at the same time he may be demolishing the hegemonic Empire the US had built.