Europe and America: They’ve Lost That Loving Feeling

A relationship forged in the aftermath of World War ii has hit hard times. Is it over?

On July 1, Europe and the United States will be at war with each other. Not a hot war, but a trade war. The U.S. has placed tariffs on European aluminum and steel, and Europe has threatened to retaliate with its own tariffs. Relations between Germany and America have not been worse since the end of World War ii. This is more than just a lovers’ tiff.

The covers of Spiegel, Europe’s largest newsmagazine, have portrayed U.S. President Donald Trump as:

  • A middle finger to Europe
  • A terrorist beheading Lady Liberty
  • A subhuman ape
  • A baby riding a nuclear bomb
  • A meteor poised to destroy the planet
  • A tsunami destroying Washington, D.C.
  • A golfer striking a flaming planet Earth

On one Stern magazine cover, Mr. Trump is depicted as a Nazi. On the front of Berliner Kurier, the world is swearing at him. One study found that Germany’s public broadcaster, ard, covers the American president more negatively than any other news source.

In 2000, 80 percent of Germans said they felt “favorable” about the U.S. By 2015, the number had fallen to 50 percent. By spring 2017, it was only 35 percent. The same year, another poll found that more Germans trusted Russia than the United States.

This is a remarkable shift. A 70-year romance is dying before our eyes.

Take a Chance on Me

The romance began in the most unique way. In 1945, Americans and Germans were fighting each other to the death. But in 1947, the victorious Americans befriended their recent enemies.

Historically, the conqueror bleeds the vanquished dry. Not the U.S. Under the Marshall Plan, the United States poured into Western Europe the equivalent of $130 billion in today’s money, much of it going to West Germany. If America were to give the same share of its economy today, it would amount to over $800 billion. And it gave this while its economy was shrinking. Secretary of State George C. Marshall called this plan to rebuild Germany a “calculated risk.”

In 1948, the Germans were struck with a crisis. The Soviet Union had besieged West Berlin, cutting off food, fuel and electricity from 2.5 million people living there.

U.S. President Harry Truman was told by his advisers that the U.S. must not risk war with the powerful Soviets. It must surrender the city to communism, and the poverty and repression that went with it.

Truman chose instead to ride to the rescue, supplying the city by air. British and American pilots who had once dropped bombs on Berlin now flew in food. Pilots working 36-hour shifts flew a quarter of a million flights, carrying 2.3 million tons of supplies. A plane landed in the Berlin airport every three minutes. The U.S. and Britain sustained this for 318 days until the Soviets backed down. West Berlin remained free.

Next, America rebuilt Germany’s military. America released Nazis and other World War ii-era officials, industrialists and soldiers. The Central Intelligence Agency set up a German secret service, staffed it with ex-Nazis, and handed it over to West Germany. German weapons manufacturers reopened. An army was set up. This too was a “calculated risk” as America focused on a new threat—Soviet Russia.

Over the decades, U.S. forces kept Russia out of Western Europe. The U.S. Navy kept the sea-lanes open, and Europe grew rich on trade.

America even offered the ultimate sacrifice, making a nuclear first-strike pledge. If Soviet Russia invaded Europe, the U.S. would respond with a nuclear strike. This would inevitably result in Russian nukes destroying U.S. cities. America promised to lay down its life for Europe.

To prove its sincerity, America supplied Europe with nuclear bombs to be carried on German, Dutch, Italian, Belgian and Turkish planes if the time came.

This was not all altruistic. America had an interest in stopping the Soviet Union. But has any victorious power in the history of the world treated its conquered this way?

The Americans kept Western Europe free. The Soviets took down the Berlin Wall in 1989, and the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. America helped the Germans reunify. When Germany wanted to break up Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, the U.S. provided the necessary military and diplomatic muscle, even at the cost of betraying its older alliance with the Serbs.

Today, Germany leads all of Europe—thanks to decades of American help.

A Bad Romance

But the relationship wasn’t perfect. Germany flirted with Russia even during the Cold War. Once the common threat of the Russians ended, could Germany and America’s alliance survive?

It didn’t look like it. The two drifted apart. America invaded Iraq in 2003, and Germany refused to help. The U.S. was caught spying on the German chancellor. Germany was caught spying on the American president. The two didn’t spend much time together; they didn’t feel like they needed each other.

“RIP the Trans-Atlantic Alliance, 1945–2018”
Foreign Policy headline

Even before Mr. Trump was elected, Time magazine wrote that the German-American “alliance is weaker and less influential than at any other time since the 1930s.”

Then Donald Trump became president.

For decades, the U.S. has protected Europe at its own expense. During his election campaign, Mr. Trump announced that it was time for Europe to pay its way or lose that protection.

In June 2017, President Trump withdrew from the Paris climate accord. Europe exploded with fury. There, climate change is a religion. Leaving the agreement was blasphemy. The Financial Times called it “a blow to Germany’s collective solar plexus.”

In December, Mr. Trump announced the relocation of America’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, to Europe’s great dissatisfaction.

This past May, the president withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Iran nuclear deal. Europe was livid. “RIP the Trans-Atlantic Alliance, 1945–2018” was the headline in Foreign Policy, which wrote, “The alliance was already a corpse, but Donald Trump drove the last nail into its coffin” (May 11).

“[I]t would be most unwise to underestimate the long-term damage to the trans-Atlantic relationship caused by Washington’s assault on Europe,” the Washington Post wrote. “Strong voices are now demanding that Europe stand up for its sovereignty by being more confrontational with Trump” (May 12).

America threatened sanctions on European trade with Iran. Then on June 1, the U.S. imposed tariffs on European aluminum and steel manufacturers. The EU has announced its own retaliatory tariffs, taking effect July 1. America may counter-retaliate, striking Europe’s automobile industry.

But all these “anti-Europe” reactions from Mr. Trump raise an important question. Why was Europe making so many anti-American moves in the first place?

Europe pushed the climate change agreement hard, an agreement that requires the U.S. to lead developed countries in paying $100 billion a year and immediately cut carbon dioxide emissions—while China can increase its emissions until 2030. (Read “What the Paris Climate Agreement Was Really About.”)

The environment is important, but this deal hobbled America’s already indebted economy, and Europe’s leaders were cheering it on.

The Iran deal was disastrous. It poured money into Iran and its terrorist proxies. Yet Europe backed it, eager for cheap oil and lucrative contracts. (Read “America’s Deadly Nuclear Deal With Iran.”)

American money and power have protected Europe and its profitable trade. Mr. Trump is demanding that Germany rearm. That’s dangerous. Although it is reasonable to expect Europe to contribute to its own defense, such suggestions have outraged Europe.

Europe has been fighting a trade war against the U.S. long before June 1. The European Union has slapped 10 percent tariffs on American cars and food for years. The U.S. imposes only tiny tariffs in exchange. The EU’s mountains of regulations hinder U.S. firms trying to do business in Europe.

Germany also uses the euro to cheat. Because Germany shares the euro with its struggling neighbors, it enjoys a weaker currency than what a purely German currency would be. This makes German goods cheaper in the U.S. and American goods more expensive in Germany. It’s an invisible subsidy on everything Germany sells and an invisible tariff on everything America exports. (Read “Spiraling Into Trade War.”)

More broadly, when has Europe ever sacrificed for the U.S. in the ways America has sacrificed for Europe? Instead, Europeans have consistently taken advantage of America. Now America is doing something about it—and Europeans are furious.

Getty Images

I’m Over You

All relationships have their ups and downs. But Europe is ready to move on from America.

Spiegel editor in chief Klaus Brinkbäumer wrote a book titled An Obituary for America: The End of a Friendship and the Future of the West. Spiegel Online published an article Brinkbäumer adapted from his book under the headline “Thank You, Donald! What Trump Means for Germany’s Future.”

Brinkbäumer does not see his country’s relationship with America as a romance but as slavery from which Germans must “emancipate ourselves.”

But the most surprising part of Brinkbäumer’s book is not that he believes the relationship with America is dead. It is that he is happy about it.

“The cracks in trans-Atlantic relations caused by Donald Trump’s election provide an opportunity for Germany to finally forge ahead with its own foreign policy,” wrote Brinkbäumer (April 18).

Other Germans see it the same way.

Wolfgang Ischinger, the head of the Munich Security Conference, said that the breakdown in relations between Europe and Mr. Trump is an “extremely good opportunity, a wake-up call.”

After the U.S. withdrew from the Iran deal, he said, “I cannot imagine a better motivation than this shock from Trump.”

“Perhaps America had to pay the price for Europe to wake up and become resilient,” said German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen. “Perhaps we should now shout, ‘Thanks, Donald!’”

Brinkbäumer wants a new, independent Germany: “We will have to bid adieu to the soft, sheltered and, at times, sanctimonious foreign policy of the past. One that allowed the country to hide behind its protector and take morally pure positions that were also sometimes pedantic and chiding. Those days are over. Germany must become more active and become a foreign-policy player …” (op cit).

In a later article, Spiegel wrote, “Lately, the American president has emerged as a great unifier of Europe” (May 11).

Bad Blood

America built its alliances to defend itself against communism. To this day, it still relies on these allies.

Trusting in your allies is a tempting but historically dangerous policy. Ancient Rome trusted the Germanic tribes to guard its frontier in Western Europe. The tribes turned against it and took over the western empire. The Byzantine Empire tried the same thing with Arab tribes with the same result: The tribes converted to Islam and turned against Constantinople. China relied on Turkic and Mongol tribes to defend its northern border; then Genghis Khan united the Mongols and turned them against China. The ancient Britons relied on the Anglo-Saxons for defense, until the Anglo-Saxons decided to take over.

The pattern repeats so often because there is no such thing as selfless love in international relations. There is only self-interest. When it is in a nation’s self-interest, a nation betrays its allies.

Is the breakdown between Germany and America leading toward betrayal?

The Bible warns that it is. As shown in The United States and Britain in Prophecy, by Herbert W. Armstrong,the Bible reveals that Britain and America are modern-day descendants of ancient Israel. And biblical prophecy warns that Israel will trust in lovers—foreign allies—that will destroy it.

“All thy lovers have forgotten thee; they seek thee not,” warns God in Jeremiah 30:14.

“They give gifts to all whores: but thou givest thy gifts to all thy lovers, and hirest them, that they may come unto thee on every side for thy whoredom,” says God in Ezekiel 16:33. Could this apply better to any nation other than the modern United States? America has given away some of the most powerful weapons ever created. Despite all the gifts, these powers are turning against the U.S.

God says He is the one ultimately behind this trend. “All thy lovers have forgotten thee; they seek thee not; for I have wounded thee with the wound of an enemy,” God reveals in Jeremiah 30:14. In Ezekiel 16:37, God says, “I will gather all thy lovers, with whom thou hast taken pleasure … I will even gather them round about against thee ….”

Why? God explains in Ezekiel 23:35 that Israel “hast forgotten me, and cast me behind thy back.” We have rejected God. We have not trusted Him for protection, and we try to make up for that lack of protection by looking to foreign powers.

God says that in the long run, it will not work.

God’s problem with American foreign policy is that America trusts in foreign nations and not in Him.

Senior figures in the Trump administration quote 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” They are right: This verse applies to America. God promises to protect us. But that protection has conditions. It requires the nation to “turn from their wicked ways,” a part of the verse they often leave out of the quote.

“Lately, the American president has emerged as a great unifier of Europe.”

Instead, we trust foreign powers.

Herbert W. Armstrong explained that in doing so we violate the first and great commandment: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37).

“We violate that as a nation,” he said in a World Tomorrow broadcast in the 1980s. “Now I don’t think we realize we are doing it—I don’t think we do at all. I think we sincerely think—we’ve just kidded ourselves into thinking—we’ve been deceived into believing that we are really relying on God.

“But then you know, we think that God is sort of a myth, and He’s far off. Maybe He is not real? And maybe He couldn’t really help us? So we must depend on something that is real. We must depend on something that we can see. And so now we are so afraid of Russia that the United States government feels that it must take what we call a ‘calculated risk,’ … and try to build up Germany and Central Europe against Russia.”

The United States built modern Europe. Its prosperity and security rest on American foundations. And now the Continent is turning against America exactly as the Bible warns.

God is behind what Europe will do to America once it turns on the U.S. But He does it out of His love. It will be painful for America to experience the consequences of its actions: to watch its lovers betray it. But God has a purpose. He says that ultimately “ye shall know that I am the Lord God” (Ezekiel 23:49). This breakup of a relationship that never should have developed will ultimately lead America to return to the one who loves the nation with a sincerity and power that no foreign country can match.