How Trump made war on Angela Merkel and Europe

By | December 17, 2018

Susan B. Glasser writes:

On November 16, 2016, eight days after Trump was elected, Barack Obama flew to Berlin to meet with Merkel; it was the last foreign trip of his Presidency. Obama and Merkel had not started out as good friends, but they had become as close as two public figures could be. Over dinner in the Adlon Hotel, they discussed the shocking events of the previous few months, particularly Great Britain’s referendum to leave the European Union and Trump’s victory running on the slogan “America First.” Through the windows of their private dining room, Merkel and Obama could see the floodlit Brandenburg Gate, the symbol of a reunified Berlin.

Merkel, who was nearing the end of her third term, confided that she reluctantly felt that she had to run again, in order to be a buffer against Trump, Brexit, and the surge of right-wing populism throughout Europe. Obama urged her to do so. “Obama was obsessed with the fate of Europe during his last year in office,” Charles Kupchan, who served as Obama’s top National Security Council adviser on European affairs and accompanied him on the trip, told me. After the election, the situation seemed even more urgent. “His view was that Merkel was needed to keep Europe together,” Kupchan said. “He was afraid that, without Merkel, Humpty Dumpty was going to fall off the wall.”

The dinner was emotional. Obama later told Benjamin Rhodes, his deputy national-security adviser, that he had said to Merkel that the Trump Presidency would be like a storm. Obama told her to just “try to find some high ground,” and hold on to it, Rhodes recalled to me. By the time they said good night, three hours later, it was the longest that Obama had been alone with another world leader in his eight years in office. In an adjoining room, advisers to Merkel and Obama were concluding their own dinner. Rhodes offered a rueful toast: To Angela Merkel, he said, now “the leader of the free world.” [Continue reading…]

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