Europeans are terrified by America's family feud
© Greg Nash/Getty

In trying times it is even more important to have a compass of a sort.

For many Europeans, especially those who have a memory of the Cold War, the Russian occupation, communism in its different incarnations, and indeed today, the deep belief in a strong transatlantic relationship is that compass. It helps us keep our sense of direction when we find ourselves in strange unfamiliar territory.

The Western world is in transition.

Strange things happen and even stranger threats and challenges appear on the horizon. But this is not yet a crisis. If we want to avoid it turning into one, America and Europe needs to start dealing with the real issues. Elections don't solve problems, solutions do.


Europeans love to hate America, they are happy to criticize America at any given moment, but deep inside they are terrified by the possibility of America failing. For they all know, if America fails the West fails.

And as they often say "We hate U.S. leadership, but we hate the lack of it even more."

But they are worried about the breakdown of bipartisanship. To the world bipartisanship is the load bearing wall of American democracy.

You don't fool around with load bearing walls while remodeling, because you will pay dearly to replace it. One wonders if the political elites in America actually understand what they are doing, Republicans or Democrats.

The fight between President Trump and his foes is an ugly one and worrisome. But it is even more troubling that America has allowed Russia to determine the content of the debate to this extent.

While I do not believe Trump's victory is a result of the Russian hacking, it is important to clarify what they did, in order to prepare for what they might do next. 

But at times we see that Trump's opponents hate him more than they hate Vladimir Putin and the president seems to hate his critics more than he hates Putin. This family feud is dangerous and it weakens America's ability to lead.

Trump's behavior at times can be questioned, but he is not the enemy.

Putin must love this mess he helped create but he must be amused by the self-inflicted wounds on America. The investigation into Putin's interference with the election process must be aimed against Putin and the Russians, not first and foremost against Trump.

If he has been engaged in improper activities, then he must be held accountable for that.

But seven months into the Presidential cycle to still suggest that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump can save Republicans and restore sanity to California in 2018 Breitbart News denies readership drop, alt-right label Mellman: The next war MORE lost the election because of the Russian interference is a mistake, and America's allies don't want more of that.

On the other hand, the President needs to be careful that the Russians don't deepen the divide further, he should not think that Putin will be a friend, ever.

Putin sees America, with or without Trump, as his prime enemy. His divide and rule tactics in Europe work, he is now trying the same in the U.S.

Many Europeans start to realize that Trump is a symptom, not the root causes of the problems we face. They increasingly understand that Trump's victory is the response of the left behinds, the neglected losers of globalization and the technology revolution, the white working class frowned upon by "fine elites.”

Perhaps Americans might consider thinking about this as well. Instead of spending all the precious political capital on trying to remove Trump, they should start coming up with viable answers to why he is there in the first place.

As Americans some 150 years later know: civil war is the most devastating kind of war. If we weren't in 2017, what we see now would turn into one.

Trump on the other hand needs to understand that friends of America, who see this relationship as something to cling onto in good times and bad, are looking for the president to show leadership.

He has assembled a great and credible foreign policy team. He needs to finish this first phase of building a robust administration.

Here is why: The author Tevi Troy in his book "Shall we wake the President", with historic insight, suggests that in the 20th Century every president encountered a major crisis — man-made or natural- early into his tenure. Most of those crises came with global consequences.

The American people, and indeed America's friends and allies, will look to the president for leadership when that happens. Trump must get ready for this unknown crisis and be prepared to lead when it occurs.

As for friends of America: they want to see strong U.S. leadership.

They want to see this great country fulfill its historic role to be the leader of the free world. That is the heavy and historic responsibility thrust upon the President of the United States, no matter what his past.

For there is, for the foreseeable future, no alternative.


András Simonyi is a former Hungarian Ambassador to the United States and the managing director of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS Johns Hopkins University.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.