German Chancellor Angela Merkel was knock, knock, knocking on President Trump’s door this week, hoping to establish a working relationship with the person who had previously accused her of "ruining Germany". Trump's America First agenda, disparagement of global trade agreements, calls for higher defense spending, and praise of Brexit has created concern among European leaders. And since the EU is America's largest trading partner, making nice with its de facto leader should be central to Trump's foreign policy. Unfortunately, much like Trump’s other meetings (think: Britain, Japan, Canada, Israel, Peru and Ireland) things didn't go exactly as planned, with vague promises, bad handshakes and hilarious memes aplenty.
Trump said “nein” to media reports that the meeting with Merkel was unbelievably, irrefutably AWKWARD. However his bewildering refusal to shake her hand during the final photo op, his flat joke about having wiretapping in common with a clearly unamused Merkel, and his insistence that Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO all pointed to a pretty cringeworthy visit. And whether or not you think Trump actually intended to humiliate Merkel in some way, he was the one who came off looking, at best, impolite and at worst, a total jerk.
Merkel is a decade-long world stage veteran, no stranger to hobnobbing with presidents, and is facing a potentially tight race for reelection in September. So while she has been critical of Trump in the past, she came prepared to talk about mutual issues such as dealing with Russian President Putin, the future of Ukraine, combating terrorism and the US-EU trade pact. With such high stakes on the line the two strongest democracies need to work more closely than ever, however Trump's foreign policy inexperience and tough stance on trade and immigration issues seems to be helping him to do what he does best – deepen the divide. Time to bridge das gap.
Feel that you’ve had a tough week? Time to close the book on it. Movie for your mood: The Book Thief