In Europe, Few Even Want to Talk About Trump Part 2

ARTICLE –The prospect of a second presidential term for Donald J. Trump has many officials worried about alliance cohesion, NATO and the war in Ukraine.

For most European governments, it is almost too upsetting to think about, let alone debate in public. But the prospect that Donald J. Trump could win the Republican nomination for the presidency and return to the White House is a prime topic of private discussion.

“It’s slightly terrifying, it’s fair to say,” said Steven Everts, a European Union diplomat who is soon to become the director of the European Union Institute for Security Studies. “We were relieved by President Biden and his response to Ukraine,” Mr. Everts said, “but now we’re forced to confront the Trump question again.”

Given the enormous role the United States plays in European security,” he added, “we now have to think again about what this means for our own politics, for European defense and for Ukraine itself.”

The talk is intensifying as Mr. Trump, despite the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, his attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election and his various indictments, is running well ahead of his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination and is neck-and-neck with President Biden in early opinion polls.

In general, Central Europeans are more convinced that they can manage a second Trump presidency, but Western Europeans are dreading the prospect, especially in Germany, about which Mr. Trump seems to feel significant antipathy.

During his presidency, Mr. Trump threatened to pull out of NATO and withheld aid to Ukraine as it struggled with a Russian-backed insurgency, the subject of his first impeachment. He ordered the withdrawal of thousands of American troops from Germany, a move later overturned by Mr. Biden, and spoke with admiration of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

Today, with Europe and Russia locked in conflict over Ukraine, and Mr. Putin making veiled threats about nuclear weapons and a wider war, the question of American commitment takes on even greater importance. Mr. Trump recently said that he would end the war in a day, presumably by forcing Ukraine to make territorial concessions.

A second Trump term “would be different from the first, and much worse,” said Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, a former German government official who is now with the German Marshall Fund in Berlin. “Trump has experience now and knows what levers to pull, and he’s angry,” he said.


Read the full article written by Steven Erlanger on The New York Times.