In the wee hours of Wednesday, November 9, 2016, that which was not supposed to happen, happened. Nobody truly believed he could win. Few saw it coming. I have made my points, made my feelings known in two previous posts, so I now turn to the reactions of leaders around the globe.
Most world leaders are diplomats, unlike Trump himself, and so they offered congratulations to Trump, but many with obvious reservations. His rhetoric for the past 16 months has given rise to concern around the globe about how the U.S. would treat its friends and allies under his presidency.
The first to congratulate Trump was, predictably, Russian president Vladimir Putin, who called for a new era of “fully fledged relations” between his country and the US. “We understand that it will not be an easy path given the current state of degradation in the relations. And as I have repeatedly said, it’s not our fault that Russian-American relations are in such a poor state. But Russia wants and is ready to restore fully fledged relations with the United States.” Many Russian politicians welcomed the news, both because Trump has spoken of his admiration for Putin and because he represents a blow against the US “establishment”. Putin’s adviser Sergei Glazyev said he expects the U.S. to lift economic sanctions on Russia once Trump assumes office.
Officials expressed fear prior to the vote that a Trump presidency could see Ukraine thrown under the bus in favour of improved ties with Russia. Nonetheless, President Petro Poroshenko offered “sincere congratulations to Donald Trump on being elected president of the United States and to the friendly American nation on democratic expression of will”.
From the European Union (EU) came a joint letter from Donald Tusk, president of the European council and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European commission, congratulating Trump and urging him to come to Europe for talks “at your earliest convenience”. They seek reassurance on key issues on which Trump’s remarks on the campaign trial have rattled European leaders, including migration, climate change and Russia’s threat to Ukraine. “It is more important than ever to strengthen transatlantic relations. Only by cooperating closely can the EU and the US continue to make a difference when dealing with unprecedented challenges such as Da’esh, the threats to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, climate change and migration.”
I thought Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it best: “During the campaign, I found so many of President-elect Trump’s comments to be deeply abhorrent, and I never want to be — I am not ever prepared to be — a politician who maintains a diplomatic silence in the face of attitudes of racism, sexism, misogyny or intolerance of any kind. We hope that President-elect Trump turns out to be a president who is very different from the kind of candidate that he was and that he reaches out to those who felt vilified by his campaign.”
Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said he was looking forward to working with Trump and that US leadership was vital to the world’s biggest military alliance. “It is important that the transatlantic bond remains strong. US leadership is as important as ever”. Stoltenberg said he was looking forward to welcoming Trump at next spring’s Nato summit, to be held in the alliance’s new premises in Brussels.
Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (UK) congratulated Trump on his victory in a hard-fought campaign, saying Britain and the US have “an enduring and special relationship based on the values of freedom, democracy and enterprise.”
President of France, François Hollande said Trump’s win “opens up a period of uncertainty” that “must be faced with lucidity and clarity”. Hollande congratulated Trump “as is natural between two heads of state”, but showed little enthusiasm. “Certain positions taken by Donald Trump during the American campaign must be confronted with the values and interests we share with the United States.”
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said “Americans have decided that the person to carry this responsibility for the next four years is Donald Trump. Germany and America are connected by common values: democracy, freedom, respect for the law and for human dignity irrespective of origin, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political conviction. On the basis of these values, I offer the future president of America, Donald Trump, a close working relationship. Partnership with the USA remains a basic pillar of German foreign policy in order for us to meet the great challenges of our time: striving for economic and social wellbeing and a forward-looking climate policy, the fight against terrorism, hunger and disease, engagement for peace and freedom, in Germany, Europe and all over the world.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey said, “I hope that the American people’s decision will facilitate audacious steps being taken regarding fundamental rights and liberties and democracy in the world and regional developments.” One must remember that this is the man who has removed any number of those ‘rights and liberties’ from his own people and is well on his way to a more authoritarian form of government.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Trump and called him a “true friend of the State of Israel”. Netanyahu said that he believes the two leaders “will continue to strengthen the unique alliance between our two countries and bring it to ever greater heights”. Apparently Mr. Netanyahu forgets that Trump has no respect for Jews?
A spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbassaid: “We will deal with any president elected by the American people on the principle of achieving permanent peace in the Middle East based on the two state solution on June 4 1967 lines with east Jerusalem as its capital.” I foresee a potential conflict of interest here.
There are many more, and you can read the rest here if you wish. The general tone is, understandably, one of caution. European leaders, especially, are notably concerned, as Trump has made no secret of his intent to withdraw from NATO, and has claimed that in the event of an international crisis, he would decide whether or not to go to the aid of our allies based on financial considerations. He has also threatened to dishonour previous commitments to our allies, as well as withdrawing from various treaties, such as trade agreements and environmental treaties. A comment from my blogger-friend, Choosing, from The Netherlands, tells it all: “Here everyone is in shock, and a bit angry too. I guess Europe now has to grow up and take care of itself, as looking over the Atlantic for guidance is not really an option anymore.” I don’t know about you, friends, but I find this a sad state of affairs.