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Trump fed our worst instincts. His global legacy is toxic and immoral

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How much damage did Donald Trump do around the world, can it be repaired, and did he accomplish anything of lasting significance? Assessing the international legacy of the 45th US president is not so much a conventional survey of achievement and failure. It’s more like tracking the rampages of a cantankerous rogue elephant that leaves a trail of random destruction and shattered shibboleths in its wake. Last week’s wild pardoning spree is a case in point.

First, the big picture. Trump’s confrontational manner, combined with his “America First” agenda, seriously undermined transatlantic relations and US global leadership. Joe Biden promises to set this right, but it will not be easy. France’s Emmanuel Macron exploited US introspection to advance ideas of European autonomy and integration. Leaders in the UK, Hungary and Poland cynically flattered Trump for their own political purposes.

Trump’s ill-disguised hostility left deep scars in Germany, the most important European ally. This apparent phobia, fed by Berlin’s large trade surplus and relatively low defence spending, had a misogynistic tinge. He was, on occasion, unbelievably rude to chancellor Angela Merkel. A recent Pew poll found only 34% of Germans think US relations are in good shape.

“Transatlantic relations worsened exponentially under Trump because of his open disdain for the European Union, his often belligerent interactions with EU leaders, and his vocal support for Brexit,” new analysis by the International Institute for Strategic Studies says. Yet divergences were already evident pre-Trump, it notes. George W Bush’s Iraq war was deeply unpopular in Europe. Barack........

© The Guardian

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