With the Trump administration’s recent withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, the already rocky relationship between the United States and its European allies has become even more tenuous. For many Europeans, Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the Iran accord crystallizes what they dislike about his approach to world affairs: Instead of multilateralism, it’s America First.
Across much of Europe, anti-Americanism appears to be on the rise. Polls show plunging ratings for America, and European leaders are once again critical of Washington’s foreign policies. Commentators are issuing dark warnings about the fate of the transatlantic alliance. Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, has said that Europe can no longer rely on the United States and that it must “take destiny into its own hands.”
The Trump presidency evokes memories of the George W. Bush era, when opposition to the Iraq War and U.S. foreign policy was strong, and transatlantic tensions ran high. After the interlude of the Obama years, European public opinion about the occupant of the White House is once again strikingly negative. Trump’s ratings in Europe look a lot like those of Bush at the end of his presidency, as the 2017 Pew Research Center Global Attitudes Survey illustrated. In France, for example, just 14 percent said they had confidence in Trump’s international leadership, essentially the same as the 13 percent Bush registered in 2008. (During his presidency, Obama never dipped below 80 percent confidence among the French.) And just as in the Bush years, many Europeans are critical of a U.S. foreign policy that seems to disdain international cooperation.