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Merkel and Trump make nice at joint White House presser

What a difference a year makes, as the German Chancellor and President present a united front

April 27, 2018

8:40 PM

27 April 2018

8:40 PM

The superlatives, as they are wont to do with President Trump, were flying when he met with German chancellor Angela Merkel. She was no sour Kraut, but a happy camper when she met Trump this afternoon. The meeting may only be for a few hours, but the signs were auspicious. Trump immediately kissed her on the cheek and hailed their “great relationship.”

What a change from their last meeting in 2017 when a glowering Trump appeared to refuse to shake her hand. Merkel, who is used to dealing with recalcitrant men like Putin, took it in stride. But now she promised to up Germany’s defense outlays, which was music to Trump’s ears. Nothing pleases him more than the prospect that America’s allies will begin to pony up for their militaries. There can be no doubting that the Bundeswehr, which looks like a pretty anemic outfit, is overdue for a budget increase. The only thing it has in common with the old Reichswehr or Wehrmacht is the wehr, which means “to protect” in German. Where or where, you might ask, is the old martial Teutonic spirit? MIA. Perhaps the Bundeswehr can substitute the broomsticks that it has been training with for some real weaponry.

Much of their joint press conference zoomed about a variety of foreign policy issues. Merkel was cryptic about a looming trade war with Washington, observing that Trump will decide about aluminum and steel tariffs. Trump refused to say whether or not he will exit the Iran agreement, but observed that Iran must not “get even close to a nuclear weapon.” He also complained about the trade imbalance with Europe, but magnanimously offered that he didn’t blame Merkel. Instead, he blames his “predecessors,” dupes who were gulled by crafty foreigners into surrendering vital American interests. Trump also made it plain that he’s looking forward to the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem.

The bed-wetters who predict big problems are a matter of sheer indifference to the president. Trump, and Trump alone, knows what is best. He proclaimed, “Jerusalem has been a subject that’s been promised for many years, as you know, the embassy in Jerusalem. It’s been promised for many, many years by presidents. They all make campaign promises and they never had the courage to carry it out. I carried it out. So I may go.” And when it comes to North Korea, he wants “complete denuclearization.”

Will the two Koreas unite? Merkel expressed her sympathy for the resumption of contact between the two Koreas, noting that Germans can empathize with Koreans about what it feels like to communicate again after years of separation. Of course, the division between Trump and Merkel has looked to be almost as great. There may not have been a Berlin Wall separating the two, but the hostilities were clear. For now, a truce exists between the two sides.

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