In principle, Donald Trump thinks that the NATO and non-NATO US traditional allies are free riders, namely fully autonomous decision-makers which accept the US military support, but then do their own way, at least in foreign policy.
Donald Trump does not want to pay billions of dollars to protect US friendly nations which, however, do not spend the amount required for their defense.
He is not entirely wrong since currently the United States still bear 73% of NATO’s total cost, although it is worth noting that they manipulate and use most of the Allies’ defense potential for their own purposes.
During the election campaign, Donald Trump has often said that the 28 NATO Member States do not pay their “fair share” and that the Atlantic Alliance is “obsolete” because it has not been focused on the rogue countries’ terrorism.
We believe this stance by Donald Trump is technically wrong, since the Alliance has often favored, with irrational operations, the Middle East regime change and the current encirclement of Russia, which, however, “The Donald” has promised to downsize on its European border.
Hence all US interests, but certainly not European Union’s.
With specific reference to Europe, Donald Trump’s line is to check the support and the possibility of reaching agreements – also at military level – for each NATO country.
Therefore Italy will be relegated to an even smaller role than the current one, because a substantial share of costs shall be paid for the military engagement in the Alliance.
Briefly Europe’s relying fully on the United States is an objectively outdated behavior, though not yet in EU decision-makers’ mind.
In fact, the “mutual” agreement with the winners of the Second World War has long been over.
After all, Donald Trump evaluates the European Union indirectly, according to what he said on “Brexit” to support it: borders are natural and necessary.
People want to see borders – and here we can recall Carl Schmitt with his theory whereby modern liberal States have scarce “political” awareness because they have too much fluid borders.
I think that the future negotiations between a Europe under crisis and Trump’s USA, which have no interest in managing relations with EU technocrats, will be hard.
Furthermore Trump does no longer reason as his predecessors, who regarded the EU as a US natural ally and even an imitation of the US federal model.
Again in contrast with the “old-style Europe”, he does not even accept the JCPOA, namely the nuclear treaty with Iran. He does not believe in it and he thinks it has been reached by negotiators lacking clear perception of their interests, who got carried away by the Kantian myth of perpetual peace.
Trump deems it the “worst deal ever” and hence the worst danger to US security in the Middle East and in the rest of the world.
The reason which is easy to guess is that – thanks to this nuclear deal, which, as Trump rightly thinks, does not put a stop to the Iranian strategic aims – the Shiite republic can become the dominant system in the whole Middle East. According to the President-elect, the United States will impose again sanctions against7 Iran.
Donald Trump’s United States will never leave the Middle East, which is the axis of their expansion in the oil system and in the periphery of the Russian region.
Indeed Donald Trump thinks of a serious mediation between Israeli and Palestinians – as those carried out in the real estate sector, as he said ironically in a recent interview.
Nevertheless in this case, as in others, the issue will lie in resorting to “tough negotiators instead of naïve academics”- just to use Trump’s words – although, so far, the US negotiators have been mostly politicians and not professors.
In Trump’s opinion, however, also the professional diplomats are too focused on the nuances rather on the substance of negotiations.
And in his opinion, persuasion rather than power characterizes diplomacy at its best.
The President-elect also maintains he has to improve the relations with Israel, which Barack Obama had led to an all-time low.
Israel is the essential friend to make the whole Middle East safe.
It is by no mere coincidence that, during the election campaign, Trump spoke in favor of the US Embassy transfer from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, so as to publicly and officially support Israel’s policy vis-à-vis the Territories.
Trump wants to rebuild good relations with the Jewish State because he still deems it the fundamental and indispensable US link in the Middle East.
Gone are the days when Saudi Arabia funded 20% of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and the same holds true for the Saudi support to McCain and to Bush senior and junior, as well as the Qatari funds to Bill Clinton and his Foundation – and the Clintons were well aware that Saudi Arabia and Qatar lavishly funded the ISIS Caliphate.
Not to mention the support provided by Obama to the “radical” Islamic world – which would have been even expanded by Hillary Clinton, if she had won the presidential elections – as well as to the jihadists fighting the tyrant Bashar al-Assad.
With the risk – which has already materialized – of making CIA and the State Department train a brigade of so-called “moderate” jihadists against Assad-led Syria who, soon after being armed and paid by the United States, went to wage their war in Al Baghdadi’s Caliphate.
The ambiguous role played by the United States in Syria will no longer be so: Trump wants Russia to defeat ISIS in Syria on its own and he also wants Germany alone to keep Ukraine.
Trump does not want to repeat the mistakes of the universal “fight against tyrants” and the exporting of democracy everywhere. He wants to reaffirm the US real interests and establish good relations in all the other areas.
NATO is not against Russia, as he has repeatedly said during the election campaign.
As Trump has frequently reiterated, in the Middle East it is better to have strong men than chaos: perhaps it is even better to have Bashar al-Assad with the Russian support than the systematic disaster of the endless more or less “moderate” jihadist groups which, by destroying that country, will lead to a very dangerous void in the whole Middle East.
Only a fool would want chaos instead of Bashar al-Assad – we have already had that fool and it would have been even worse with Hillary Clinton.
With specific reference to China, Donald Trump maintains that, on the one hand, China should settle the North Korean issue. The President-elect sees two options in this regard: US-North Korean negotiations and hard pressures on China to stop North Korea’s nuclear military race.
China fears the protectionist drift to which Trump’s economic policy may lead.
On the other hand, China is glad that the US President is a businessman who does not bother about “human rights”.
However it fears Trump’s position on freedom of the seas in Asia, while Xi Jinping has soon proposed to the US President-elect comprehensive bilateral cooperation on all issues.
The traditional US alliance with Japan will be strengthened and even Duterte’s Philippines will have the opportunity of cooperating with the new United States.
In all likelihood, the worst will materialize with the old and now powerless European Union.
GIANCARLO ELIA VALORI
Honorable de l’Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France