Europe's fate

At a political rally in Munich on May 28, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the days when Europe could completely count on others were over, in the wake of last week's bruising NATO and G-7 meetings. Instead, she said, the time has come for Europe to take its fate into its own hands. 

Merkel's carefully selected words resonated worldwide, triggering a debate on the deepening split within the transatlantic alliance.

Some claim that Merkel's statements served more to rally domestic support ahead of federal elections to take place on Sept. 24.

Considering U.S. President Donald Trump's harsh criticism toward Germany in Brussels, where he complained about a $64 billion bilateral trade deficit and accused Germany of unfairly benefitting from trade relations with the U.S., this might be true to an extent.

However, the body language of the participants, as well as the bizarre handshake rituals during the meetings, reflect a shared frustration among European leaders with regard to Trump's defiant stance toward NATO and Europe. 

Contrary to expectations, speaking at the new NATO headquarters before a 9/11 memorial, Trump did not affirm his commitment to Article 5, the mutual aid clause of the NATO treaty. Ironically, the only time NATO invoked Article 5 was to protect the U.S. after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Instead, Trump reiterated that NATO allies should pay their share of the defense budget so as to reach 2 percent of their GDP, which means that as of now, the collective defense mechanism rests upon the premise of conditionality.

Tension in the transatlantic alliance is no new phenomenon, and it is not something particular to the Trump administration. There has always been an asymmetry in power relations between the...

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