Brookings Scholar To NYT: Merkel No Longer Wants To Be In The Same Room As Trump

Screengrab / The New York Times / YouTube

JakeThomas

Allies seem to be holding the US President at arms’ length in the wake of his relentless opposition to multilateralism.

The New York Times reported in June that German Chancellor Angela Merkel decided not to attend the 2020 Group of Seven, or G7, summit to be held in the United States.

The Times calls this a recent evidence of how “America’s traditional allies have stopped looking to [President Donald J. Trump] for leadership, no longer trust that [he] will offer them much, and are turning their backs on him.”

  • Merkel cited the lingering threat of COVID-19 as her primary reason to decline attendance. However, a senior official who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the Times that she had additional motives tied to Trump’s recent foreign policy.
  • According to this official, Merkel had concerns that appropriate diplomatic preparations had not been made.
  • She also allegedly was disinterested in being part of an anti-China display.
  • She opposed Trump inviting Russian president Vladimir Putin.
  • She did not want to be made part of 2020 presidential election politics.
  • And she was shocked that the United States unilaterally left the World Health Organization.

The decision to exit the World Health Organization apparently came as a surprise to allies. Trump appears to have either ignored their counsel or not consulted them at all. Trump similarly unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, the Paris climate agreement, and the Open Skies treaty.

  • Julianne Smith, a former Obama official who is now a senior advisor at the German Marshall Fund, said that “It all shows just how out of touch Trump is with allies,” and that he “continues to believe allies can be abused and mistreated and that he can order them around and at the same time count on them.”
  • Merkel’s decision to not attend the Group of Seven summit in America “says a lot about how fed up multiple leaders are around the world, who have seen how little return they’ve gotten on the investments they made into a relationship with Trump,” Smith said.
  • Similarly, when Trump invited Vladimir Putin to the 2020 Group of Seven summit even though Russia had been ousted for annexing Crimea, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada publicly opposed the invitation.
  • Carl Bildt, the former Swedish prime minister, said this public opposition was “highly unusual” given the normally close relationship both the United Kingdom and Canada have with the United States.
  • Bildt added that he thinks that given the limited diplomatic preparation for the Group of Seven summit, “the Germans suspected it was just a photo op with Trump in the White House.”
  • Ulrich Speck, a German analyst, also said of the summit, “For Trump it’s not multilateral in spirit but unilateral, just a meeting to serve one purpose—his re-election.”
  • William Drozdiak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who wrote a book about French president Emmanuel Macron, shared an anecdote about Macron and Merkel with the Times. He claims that Merkel told Macron, “Be my guest, be the interlocutor, I don’t want to be in the room with the guy.”

For clarity's sake, we updated the headline.*

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