TRANS-ATLANTIC TENSIONS

Trump's threat to Germany

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Source: Benedetto Cristofani / Salzman Art

It may seem hard to believe, but Donald Trump has been president for less than 10 months. If at times his presidency has seemed to lurch grotesquely from one gaffe to the next, there is at least one clear pattern: Mr. Trump is dismantling, brick by brick, the post-war liberal world order, of which America was once founder and champion. And that is very bad news for Germany.

Under Mr. Trump, multilateral free-trade agreements are being trashed, in favor of bilateral ones where the United States can dominate smaller countries. Open markets are out of fashion. For the Trump administration, trade is a zero sum game, in which other countries are out to steal America’s wealth. Fair and equal rules for all? Not Mr. Trump’s style. In his economic order, America does what America wants.

What is increasingly clear is that Mr. Trump’s foreign, security and trade policy represent a frontal assault on Germany’s economic way of life. The American president is conducting economic war: whether intentional or not, it hits Germany harder than anyone else. This is because Germany, more than anyone else, relies on open markets, free trade and cross-border business models.

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