The Scene: It’s rather fitting that another controversial remark by President Trump would be made while he visits one of his numerous golf courses, this time in Scotland. Trump rattled European leaders when he said, “I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now you wouldn't think of the European Union, but they're a foe.”
The historically ironclad union between the US and UK is facing severe strain, and students are refusing to digest the news without landing a few shots.
Fabiana Vilsan sees Brexit and current US/UK relations as the result of the same nationalistic attitudes that propelled Trump into the Oval Office.
• “Shortly after the historic Brexit vote determined that, in the following three years, the United Kingdom will withdraw from the European Union, therefore declaring its independence from the organization’s legal and monetary frameworks, Republican nominee Donald Trump paid Scotland a visit… While European media focused its coverage on Trump’s misunderstanding of the Brexit vote when speaking in Scotland, his claim of political parallels wasn’t farfetched. Two symbols of the Western world, of democracy and liberal values, are clearly steering toward a more nationalistic, exclusive rhetoric, particularly on the issue of immigration.”
• “It can seem shocking to Brown students that such substantial portions of British and American populations are eager to support candidates and campaigns aimed at alienating foreigners and crippling relationships with other nations. While Brown and various other liberal institutions encourage global perspectives and the acceptance of cultural globalization, many are brought up to believe that globalization will eradicate national identity and lead to fewer financial opportunities for locals.”
• “When asked why they had voted to leave the European Union, British citizens said the related issues of immigration and sovereignty were the main factors in their decisions — like Trump’s supporters, they perceived a need to take back control over their lives. Many feel that current politicians do not represent their best interests. Meanwhile, Trump has infamously risen to power with his ambitious promise to “make America great again,” put his foot down when it comes to illegal immigration and demand payment from organizations such as NATO before committing to upholding treaties. The parallels between the demographics and campaign platforms in the two regions are hard to ignore.”
• Perry Abdulkadir of the Harvard Political Review says of the relationship between the US and the UK: “‘The romance of these now fading photographs inspired a “special relationship’, as Churchill called it, between the United States and the United Kingdom. Because of the strong cultural, historical, and linguistic ties between the two countries, they developed one of the strongest relationships on the planet.”
• “However, some academics—and even members of the British government—are arguing that in this age, the special relationship is nothing more than a nostalgic, feel-good catchphrase, and they advocate rebranding it the “essential relationship”. Even a full 67 percent of the British public expressed that the “special relationship” had no purpose in a modern context.”
• “The fact remains that the United States and the United Kingdom fundamentally share a very similar view of the world and have very similar ambitions. Whatever short-term diplomatic troubles exist, it will be impossible for the two countries not to work together in the long run.”
• “When the Second World War ended, some said that the Anglo-American alliance was a creature of necessity, and that it would soon weaken. Then, after the Cold War, some said that the bonds that connected Americans and Britons would weaken without a common enemy. However, these people were looking at the alliance through the wrong lens. It exists not to confront ephemeral enemies; it exists and will continue to exist because of the similar outlook and goals the two have in common.”
The Bottom Line: Maybe President Trump is right that we have to be tough on our allies when they do things we don’t like. However, there are certainly better ways to communicate than making brash statements on national TV. Also, it perhaps goes without mentioning that like it or not, the US needs to remain aligned with the UK, one of our oldest and closest allies. If the UK begins to believe that we cannot be trusted, our relationship with our other allies will quickly fall apart, in a time where international unity is desperately needed.