Last updated on January 12th, 2019
U.S. President Donald Trump’s vigilant world is full of surprises. While Saudi Arabia is marked as a friend on his list, the European Union is certainly marked as one of his biggest foes.
At the funeral of the 41st U.S. President George H.W. Bush, where ambassadors lined up to pay their final respect and knew that each one of them would be called in the order of seniority, a system in which everyone knew their position. Ironically, only until they realized that they didn’t.
The European Union ambassador to the US, David O’Sullivan who is normally among the first 30 foreign envoys to be seated, watched as almost every other ambassador to the US took a seat, leaving him among the last to be named.
This is exactly how, according to an EU official, the 28-member bloc learned that the Trump administration had diplomatically downgraded its status from a state to an international organization. The list of naming individuals called upon to pay homage also showed a clear reversal of policy followed at the time of Obama administration.
“Every administration has the right to review this order but why now, two years in?” the official said, laying focus on diplomats in Washington that the move seemed politically motivated. He added, “What for us is remarkable is that we were not notified. For a diplomatic move like that, you should at least tell the organization involved.”
The State Department, however, did not answer the queries about the time when the decision was made, who made it, and why did the Trump administration not inform the EU about the change. The only reply they received, as per CNN, was an automatic message citing the ongoing government shutdown as a reason for its failure in not responding to the query.
The growing rift between the EU and the United States has multiplied in recent years, especially after Trump took to the office. Working under the so-called oath of making America great gain, Trump has sparred with the EU on a number of topics, including trade, Iran Nuclear deal, and support for Paris climate agreement, and has made decisions that only served his interests and not the EUs.
Furthermore, Trump and other senior officials have criticized the EU, promoted Britain’s departure from the European Union, and publically questioned the norms on which the body functions.
Responding to the argument, Julianne Smith, an adjunct fellow at the Center for a New American Security said, “This decision is just another in a series of failures to consult our closest allies, Europe wasn’t consulted or notified about the administration’s decision to leave the INF Treaty,” with Russia, which immediately impacts the European security.
Smith also highlighted that the US’ way of dealing with things is not right, stating that the decision to leave both, Syria and Afghanistan is another example, where Europe wasn’t consulted and it only learned that such a decision was taken through the newspaper.
The European Union is already going through a rough phase at this time, trying to restore the norms of democracy continent-wide, and Trump’s diplomacy in the current scenario only adds ‘salt to the wounds’.