Fear and loathing (of Donald Trump) in the EU

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This article is part of a special report, The Global Election.

“Let’s not panic,” said Wolfgang Ischinger, the former German ambassador to the United States. “The world is not ending, as some people seem to be suggesting.”

Ischinger organizes the annual Munich Security Conference, the world’s premier gathering for world leaders to discuss issues of war and peace. But he was not referring to worries about nuclear Armageddon, terrorism or even the coronavirus pandemic. The palpable fear among Europe’s foreign policy elite is about four more years of U.S. President Donald Trump.

If Europeans have learned anything since January 20, 2017 it is this: No matter how bad things get with Trump, they can — and will — get worse. When it comes to Trump, the only certainty is the sheer destabilizing uncertainty of each and every day.

“Everyone is concerned about the sort of unpredictability of the White House,” Lauri Lepik, a longtime Estonian diplomat who served as ambassador to Washington and to NATO, said of the possibility of a second Trump term. “Everyone understands he doesn’t value transatlantic relations — or he values them in a very monetary way.”

“They all counted Donald Trump out in 2016. But yet, here he is” — Ronald Gidwitz, acting U.S. ambassador to the EU

Even those like Ischinger, who insist that the world would not end with another Trump term, do not deny that relations between the U.S. and Europe are at a historic low.

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