Trump’s populist policies may break US-EU ties （He Zhigao）
Leading US neoconservative historian Robert Kagan wrote in his 2003 book that "Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus," which artistically describes the differences between the US and Europe. The differences not only lie in policies, but also in ideas. The relationship between the US and Europe seems to be full of uncertainties in the era of Donald Trump's presidency.
According to the theory of security community coined by political scientist Karl Deutsch in 1957 and the democratic peace theory of Western scholars, the bilateral relationship was like a happy marriage. After the Iraq War, divergences between the two began to rise, but interdependency remained. However, with Trump taking office, the two are likely to fixate on a "one bed, two dreams" pattern.
Economic exchanges, security cooperation and concept and rules bind the two together. If conflicts arise in these three areas, the US-Europe relationship will fall apart and needs to be reset.
At the economic level, there are challenges in free trade. The negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), initiated in 2013, have been ongoing despite protests from both sides. But, the US' withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership has overshadowed the prospect of the TTIP.
Trade protectionism, featured in the "America first" doctrine and favored by the Trump administration, will accelerate the retreat of economic globalization and bring free trade to a bilateral rather than multilateral footing.
The neo-isolationism adopted by the US does not help Europe to resolve its debt problem. The US will not let its European allies make the rules in trade. Competition between the two is expected to escalate.
In security, NATO is the pillar for cooperation. After Trump was sworn in, he questioned NATO's effectiveness and criticized its member states for not shouldering their fair share in defense costs and not pulling their weight on the fight against terrorism.
The postwar European security order is attributed to the US-led NATO. If Trump abandons this alliance, NATO's collective defense system will lose its clout. Given the strategic pressure from Russia, Europe will enhance its own defense system, while the security cooperation with the US will come to a stagnation.
Common values and cultural connections are the foundations of the US-Europe relationship. From the perspective of mainstream European politics, many of Trump's policies are politically incorrect, which is according to not only the abovementioned trade and security strategies, but also his stance on climate change and immigration.
While the EU has been actively promoting the Paris climate agreement, Trump threatened to pull out of the deal. His travel ban imposed on seven majority-Muslim countries and the planned "US-Mexico border wall" have aroused outcries from many European countries.
Trump's anti-globalization stance, his preference for "America first" and ignorance of the international rules and global governance are all at odds with the ideas of integration and multilateralism advocated by Europe. This makes it hard to bridge the ideological gap between the two.
Some Western scholars and media now hold pessimistic views on the future of US-Europe ties and they predict a split between the two. European leaders such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande and Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, have all questioned Trump's policies on various occasions.
Europe is now facing multiple crises and European leaders are grappling with internal challenges. They are in want of assistance from the Trump-led US government. However, Trump's policies conflict with the expectations of the European leaders, which does not help solve the existing crises but will bring chaos to Europe.
Trump's approaches fit the demand of European populist parties which call for nationalism and anti-globalization. They also challenged the thoughts of mainstream European parties and their followers. This has further reinforced the differences among the European people and political divisions have been widening.
When the US is unable to provide European nations with sufficient public goods, this may either boost cooperation among them or accelerate the disintegration process of the EU. If populist presidential candidates in Europe copy the Trump model and win the elections in the coming months, it will deal a heavy blow to the unity of the EU, which is the last thing the incumbent European leaders would like to see.
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