What would the United States lose if it lost Europe as a friend, partner and ally? The question is an abstract one for now. But if his inaugural presidential trip abroad last week is any indication, U.S. President Donald Trump seems hell-bent on finding out what the real-life answer would be.
Any European leaders watching the first two legs of Trump’s trip would have been understandably encouraged and even optimistic about the prospects for their first meeting with the new American president. Four months in office had already served to soften the iconoclastic declarations he made as a candidate into a relatively conventional approach to American foreign policy. And Trump’s truculence seemed to transform into bonhomie upon leaving the scandal-ridden atmosphere of Washington.
He began his first stop by showing love to Saudi Arabia, whose regional agenda he eagerly and dutifully adopted as his own. He followed that up with a brief stopover in Israel, where again he showed love and a willingness to make his hosts’ priorities his own.