Trump's Cabinet puts US interests first — Europe should learn from that
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I noticed, after I openly supported the election of Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy MORE, that many of my friends among the European diplomatic community seemed to have lost my number.  

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Diplomats were expected to condemn Trump, not to repeat their conversations with the thousands of voters ignored by CNN, or share copies of "Hillbilly Elegy." Supporting Trump was not the sophisticated thing to do.

 

I am glad they are speaking to me again, since the election, so we can talk about the incoming administration.  

When I speak to them, I ask them to consider Trump’s national security team. Like Trump, they are not embarrassed to be American. Europe loved Obama because they saw him as unlike other Americans: He is a citizen of the world, not a nationalist.

But the new Trump Cabinet appointees are unabashedly American, what we used to call patriots. They don’t mind being politically incorrect or being criticized in the media for defending American interests; there will be no apology tour during the Trump administration. It will be easy to predict what America will do, because they will act in America’s interest. Europe will have particular interest in the Americans' positions on NATO. 

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn lost his job at the DIA because he was willing to stand up against Obama, predicting the growth of the Islamic State. He said and did what he thought was right, warning the Congress about the politicization of intelligence, and accusing the administration of downplaying the threat from Islamic terrorist groups.  

Did Trump choose him because he opposed Obama, or because the president-elect values people who don’t shave intelligence to meet political goals? In a Nov. 10 article in "Foreign Policy" magazine, Flynn suggested the appointment of a NATO Inspector General and a general audit, arguing that:

“America’s continued leadership of this venerable institution depends on persuading the new president-elect that the alliance is good value for the money.”  

Flynn supports NATO, but EU and NATO officials will have to work much harder in the future than they have in the past.   

Mike Pompeo, the designated CIA Director, graduated first in his class at West Point and top of his class at Harvard Law, but he has expressed real fondness for the several years he spent as a tank battalion commander, patrolling the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.  

He has vigorously opposed the Iran deal, called for charging Edward Snowden with treason (expressing hope for Snowden’s conviction and execution), and called for reinstating government surveillance of foreign nationals. He has an overriding passion for law and order, and for a more strict accounting of spending at the UN. It is a safe bet that he will support General Flynn’s desire for an audit of NATO.

They call General James Mattis “Mad Dog,” and compare him to George Patton, because he is known for pithy sayings. But it is not just for his bon mots that they make the comparison: Like Patton, he reads Plutarch and Homer (and so much more; see his required reading list from his days at CENTCOM).

He knows the problems that plague the European continent. He will have little patience with NATO members who fail to meet defense spending commitments, but he will be fierce in defending America from enemies, and that ferocity will benefit our allies.

Senator Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsHouse Democrats seeking Sessions's testimony in impeachment probe McCabe's counsel presses US attorney on whether grand jury decided not to indict US attorney recommends moving forward with charges against McCabe after DOJ rejects his appeal MORE is defined by his fight for law and order, for justice, and by his overriding respect for the rule of law. There will be no refusal to enforce the laws of the land when he is attorney general.  

His commitment to constitutional law is legendary, both as a prosecutor and while serving on the Judiciary Committee. He has shown that he cares about careful investigation and thorough prosecution of criminals, such as when he broke the back of the Ku Klux Klan and school segregation in Alabama.  

And Sessions is keenly aware of European security problems; his letter in July to President Obama regarding NATO spending takes on a new context, given his appointment.  

Europe needs to stop thinking that the world will end without Obama and Clinton. In fact, the last eight years have been a disaster. Europe has seen terrorist attacks in the heart of its great cities, massive flows of refugees, and government officials compromised by corruption and tempted by promises from Moscow and even Beijing.

Much of this is attributable to the weak foreign policy of Obama, Biden, Clinton, and Kerry.  

Instead of worrying about Trump, I tell my European friends: Embrace him and work with his team. Use his election as a spur to action to meet your self-defense commitments, the standards you agreed to in NATO summits in Wales and Warsaw. You have the opportunity to work with a serious team with clearly identified interests, that will work with their allies to get things done. You may even become inspired to drain the swamp in Brussels.
 
Together, you can make Europe great again!
 

Bart Marcois is a former career foreign service officer, and was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy for International Affairs during the Bush Administration.


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