Friday 23 August 2019

Editorial: 'Our ties to America go far beyond politics and policy'

'Trump’s scornful attitude to proven allies has grated – but he is still welcome.' Photo: Liam McBurney/Pool via Reuters
'Trump’s scornful attitude to proven allies has grated – but he is still welcome.' Photo: Liam McBurney/Pool via Reuters


President Trump's arrival in Ireland in the week of the 75th anniversary of D-Day should give pause for thought. The 45th President of the US has propelled himself to the top, harnessing untapped disruptive energies. Yet the nation he represents has played a pivotal role in establishing and maintaining world order, something that in this of all weeks should not be forgotten. On June 7, 1944, under the headline, 'The Great Invasion', this newspaper wrote about the Normandy landings in an editorial.

Its first line read: "The long expected 'Second Front' has finally materialised, and the crisis of the war is upon us."

It was US intervention that saved Europe in its darkest hour. Just as it was America's role in both cajoling and pressurising parties that proved so invaluable in 1998, securing the Good Friday Agreement.

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That is why so many were perplexed by Mr Trump's endorsement of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage. Both proffered a no-deal crash-out threat as a means of getting their way with the EU.

This could effectively drive a coach and four through the historic agreement which has given us unprecedented decades of peace.

For an American president to be seen in any way to rough-house with a pact put together so painstakingly with the aid of delicate US diplomacy was therefore unnerving.

Yesterday, he appeared less zealous.

On Brexit and the Border, Mr Trump offered: "I'm sure it's going to work out well." Mr Trump seldom does nuance. His stances on climate change, trade and migration all set him apart from other US presidents who have visited us. For all that, our ties to the US go beyond politics and policy. Where once our people found sanctuary building its great cities and railroads, today we share a two-way relationship. Facebook, Google and Apple are testament to the depths of these roots, which now reach across the Atlantic.

The Irish are now key builders and drivers in big tech through information highways.

Our country is in a unique position to be a swing door for US interest in the EU and for the EU into the US.

That is why Mr Trump is welcome. Yes, he has undoubtedly challenged preconceived notions of the US. He has championed both hawkish militarism and strategic retrenchment.

He vehemently declared that "great nations do not fight endless wars", yet the ones he inherited show no sign of ending. His impatience at the slow pace of international institutions to change may be understandable.

But his distrustful, even scornful, attitude to proven allies has grated. The author Omar El Akkad, in his dystopian 'American War', wrote: "That's what an empire is, an orchestrator of gravity, a sun around which all weaker things spin."

The president has certainly demonstrated a gift for making things spin.

But his personal mission to make America great again is as yet a work in progress.

Irish Independent

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