With strong memories of the last catastrophic war in Iraq, Europeans are united in opposing what many consider the United States’ effort to provoke Iran into a shooting war. Yet, despite the strains in trans-Atlantic relations in the Trump years, flat-out opposition to Washington remains an uncomfortable place for European nations.
European leaders have long been alarmed that President Trump’s words and Twitter messages could undo a trans-Atlantic alliance that had grown stronger over seven decades. They had clung to the hope that those ties would bear up under the strain.But in the last few days of a prestigious annual security conference in Munich, the rift between Europe and the Trump administration became open, angry and concrete, diplomats and analysts say.
NATO, a pillar of the global order, emerged from a two-day confrontation with President Trump on Thursday intact but distracted and shaken, a further challenge to the alliance as it faces an expansionist Russia and growing authoritarianism among some of its own members.
Nathalie Tocci, the director of Italy’s Institute of International Affairs and a senior adviser to Ms. Mogherini, said that Europe’s foreign and defense policy “has become more difficult now, not least because of the Trump administration efforts to undercut the E.U.” She warned that “if Europeans are serious about their strategic autonomy, now is the time to demonstrate it by standing united behind their shared interests.” And she said saving the Iran deal “is the place to start.”
It is by now a familiar, humiliating pattern. European leaders cajole, argue and beg, trying to persuade President Trump to change his mind on a vital issue for the trans-Atlantic alliance. Mr. Trump appears to enjoy the show, dangling them, before ultimately choosing not to listen.