Munich or a Requiem for the West

Feb 15, 2019 · 291 comments
tbs (detroit)
Pence is up to his neck in the conspiracy with Russia and in the obstruction of justice of the grand jury probe. Their objective being the undoing of the post WWII world order of the West. PROSECUTE RUSSIAGATE!
Tom Callaghan (Connecticut)
Thank you, Roger. You always bring some sanity with you. You spoke about "...a strange gathering in Warsaw..." Among the attendees were Mike Pence, Benjamin Netanyahu and Mike Pompeo. Each of these gentlemen brings his own Potemkin Village with him. You were quite kind to elevate the gathering to a status of "strange."
Mike OK (Minnesota)
And yet the NYT will tell us how bad China is for making our cell phones, how bad Venezuela is for suffering under our sanctions, how bad Klobuchar is for being demanding of her staff, how bad HRC was for using her private server. Sometimes I get the impression the NYT is enjoying the status quo.
Jim (TX)
Does anybody think that Pence or Trump read the words of Roger Cohen?
mary lou spencer (ann arbor, michigan)
I have been watching Japan change on the NHK News. Like Asia, Europe sees our emperor in his nakedness and seeks to deal with him as he is.
Kenan Porobic (Charlotte, NC)
You cannot defeat your enemy with false perception of their worst weakness. You can only defeat them by exploiting their worst weakness! The worst weakness of the Al Qaeda and the ISIS is the Quran. Their savage practice is directly opposite to the most respected Book of the Muslim world. It is truly shocking that our government has never tried to deploy and use the Holy Book in the fight with the terrorists. It is absolutely irrelevant whether you personally like it or not or if such an idea is repulsive to you,. It only matters if the approach deprives the terrorists of their most important and coveted asset – illusion that they are compliant and respectful of the Quran. The Al Qaeda initially didn’t launch any attack on the civilians in America. Why? Because the Quran prohibits the violence and the murder of the innocent civilians, or anybody who is not directly threatening your very life. That principle prevents and minimizes the conflicts among the people. What did change? The Al Qaeda eventually secured a fatwa from a Saudi cleric authorizing the bloody attacks on the civilians. Our ideological fight against the Al Qaeda and the ISIS has to go back to that basic teachings of the Quran. It means those terrorists blindly followed and obeyed a single man, a Saudi cleric, in direct violation of the specific Quranic verses. Strip the Al Qaeda and the ISIS from any association with the Quran and you will instantly turn them into a meaningless rag-tag street gang…
Tom Callaghan (Connecticut)
Roger called the Warsaw Conference "strange." He's being kind. It was Potemkin Village weird. How could it be otherwise? Netanyahu, Kushner, Pence and Popmeo were there.
MaxD (NYC)
the white supremacists will take America back to it's rightful place in the world in the 19th century - irrelevant, divided, hateful and ignored by the rest of the world. but this time if there's a civil war let's not repeat Lincoln's mistake - this time we root out and drown every rat and take over the South completely.
gerry (princeton)
Poor Rodger is always a day late and a dollar short. I assume in the next several weeks he will conclude that Bibi and his policy is a requiem for Israel.
Tom Callaghan (Connecticut)
There exists to day, in the Republican Party, a man who must not be mentioned. He lives in Las Vegas in a Hotel Casino that he owns. He has, almost singlehandedly, moved our policy towards Iran to the Belligerent Right. He does not believe in negotiating with a country when you are more powerful than that country. Bolton and Pompeo are his people. Netanyahu, likewise. When you see a Potemkin Village spectacle, like what transpired, in Warsaw, you can be sure he is well pleased. When it comes to Iran, Roger Cohen is the best the Times has in terms of identifying and speaking the truth. You know what they say about the truth...it will set you free.
Kenan Porobic (Charlotte, NC)
If you are not willing to publish the truth, then you are endangering the lives of every human on this planet!
Barry Lane (Quebec)
Time to impeach?
Don Shipp. (Homestead Florida)
Roger Cohen is wrong. Donald Trump does know who Hobbes is. In his intellectually emaciated mind he thinks it's the fictional baseball player, Roy Hobbs, played by Robert Redford in " The Natural ".
Jane (Connecticut)
Yup...he's Putin's puppet.
TheManOnTheStreet (Sweden)
" is being yellow-vested" And the Yellow Vests are Le Pen fascists and Melenchon communists. Interestingly both Le Pen and Melenchon are pro-Russia and receive support from Russia, which probably explains howcome communists and fascists have joined forces in France.
scythians (parthia)
"The truth is that the Trump Administration broke the Iran nuclear agreement, undermining America’s word, ' So now America=Obama! I guess that would make sense to his disciples since he has been purported to also be Christ walking on water!
akin caldiran (lansing/michigan)
Sir, firtr it is so nice to see your picture and your name and your writing,l am 84 years old and retired but some morning l just want to go to work, l wish you the best sir, you and l wrote this before , we selling guns and bullets to Saudis and Israel, as we both know Iran was with us in second world war, Stalin and Truman and Churchill was in Teharan and ask Turkey to joined to war , Turkey did after Germany was all done l was in Turkey than, you have to with allies to joined to UN and they, did SHAH PEHLEVI was a thief an Iran told him get lost anf he took his billions and his family came to America , from that moment they did not like us any more,Trump should never made JERUSALEM capital of ISRAEL, 1984 we put Israel right middle of arabs, so 2019 we should put Palestinians right beside Israel like a new country
A.S. lubin (Phoenix Az)
Trump only cares about his bank account
Pat Richards (. Canada)
Things fall apart The Centre cannot hold Anarchy is loosed upon the Universe... W.B. Yeats.
vbering (Pullman WA)
If the Democrats win in 2020 all the eurohysteria will be gone. Ho hum.
michael anton (east village)
While I mostly agree with you Mr. Cohen, I dispute that Trump is a "strongman". Rather, he is a strongman wannabe. He gazes in frustrated admiration at the Putins of the world, and wants so very much to be like them, but his own incompetence keeps tripping him up. That very same incompetence is what will prevent the U.S. from becoming a truly authoritarian state.
In deed (Lower 48)
“The president is for muscular unilateralism in a Hobbesian world — except he hasn’t heard of Hobbes. Global community is pie in the sky; Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, a lost cause.” No. He is not. Trump is for boasting and bullying in the fool’s clueless belief that as he does donthe world will continue on unchanged except for that his boasting and bullying will make the US stronger than it was so it can boast and bully even more and do get more of the world pie. Trump became president of a strong America in a relatively stable world because generations worked to make that happen. Trump and the other fake conservatives think that was all free, free like oxygen to breathe and day following night. It is not free. It was hard earned hard won and hard kept. “Muscular unilateralism” is an idiotic attempt to turn crazy and insane, out of touch with reality, boasting and bragging into a rational “Hobbesian” choice. There is no such choice. His assumptions are insane and untrue. And mocking him for not knowing Hobbes???? Who cares for pity’s sake. Our civic elites are as useless as Trump.
JABarry (Maryland)
Let's not pretend Trump is the problem in the disintegration of world peace, world order, the advancement of the safety and future of humanity. Trump is an ignorant, self-serving, narcissistic demagogue. He is mentally and emotionally ill; a child-man, a vindictive child in an man's cartoon and obese body. But he would not be president if it had not been for the Republican Party led by Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan. Now we are getting to the problem confronting not just America but the future of the planet and humanity. The problem is a mad power conspiracy orchestrated by McConnell and Ryan. Both represent a minority, a disgruntled and demented faction within the American body politic. But they have found that by defying the US Constitution, by taking advantage of an opposing political party that continues to follow the US Constitution and the rule of law, by taking advantage of a complacent, sleeping majority of the American public; I say, McConnell and Ryan by acting against all that America has cherished and celebrated since the ratification of the US Constitution, have undermined our Republic, installed a despotic and dangerous child-man in the White House and have sought to exploit his incompetence, only to find that this dangerous child-man has, like Frankenstein, gotten loose from his creators. This is not hyperbole. This is a desperate call to action. Ryan has been forced out of power, but now we must remove the coward McConnell. He is a blight upon our Republic.
Donegal (out West)
This is what happens when an ignorant, racist, xenophobic populace elects a demagogue. And as much as we may rail against Trump, we should place the responsibility where it clearly lies - with Trump voters. They don't care that we have squandered our international prestige and destroyed alliances that took decades to build. They don't care that our nation is now a laughing stock at best, and an international pariah at worst. They don't care that it will take decades to repair the damage to our international standing Trump has caused in two years. They don't care that we are literally one tweet away by a deranged man (Trump, not Kim) from starting a nuclear war. Why? Because they're getting what they want. A president who tells them that as white Christians, they are the "real" Americans and the rest of us should be content to accept the scraps of second-class citizenship. This is why they don't care about disastrous decisions such as possibly pulling out of NATO. This is why they don't care about effective advocacy in the U.N. Because like Trump, it's all about them. They love him because he is who they are - willfully ignorant, selfish, and bigoted. Trump voters don't care that our nation is now an ignorant, racist backwater. Or that we no longer attract the best and the brightest from all corners of the globe. After all, they don't believe in education. They believe in white supremacy. And as long as this is the only thing they care about, he will remain in power.
Cynthia K. Witter (Denver, CO)
Roger, I love you but Angela Merle’s is 8 years younger than our disaster. If she’s in her twilight years, he’s in doddering senescence. Perhaps you meant the twilight of her political career. I don’t know about that either. She seems too ambitious to hang up her solid-color suits on the downbeat.
SandraH. (California)
I have to admit I was taken by surprise--I didn't anticipate the appeal of authoritarianism to over a third of the American electorate. When Trump is gone, Fox News will still be there. I despair of what will happen to us--maybe we can begin to teach critical thinking in our schools to fight the propaganda, like the Swedes. Trump moves steadily to undermine our democratic norms, with his latest move being to seize money that he can't win through the democratic process to build his symbolic wall. The first thing a would-be autocrat does is undermine trust in a free press; the autocrat alone defines the truth for his followers. Trump can tell his followers that the wall is already underway, or that factories are moving back to Indiana, or that the tax cut doesn't benefit the rich--they'll believe what he says. The second thing an autocrat does is capture the refs-the courts, prosecutors, and law enforcement. Our Justice Department, FBI and courts have held up well under his constant assault, but he now has William Barr in place. He thinks he's placed loyalists on the Supreme Court. Fascist politics always requires an appeal to nativism, the demonization of marginalized groups, and the division of a nation along regional lines. Hitler idealized German rural life and portrayed cities as filled with criminals and foreigners. This is an old playbook that I never thought would work in America.
heinrich zwahlen (brooklyn)
But of course the Polish had to host this anti European spectacle. Maybe they should rethink their EU member ship. They have been on the wrong side of history since Bush pushed for the war in Irak and Rumsfeld praised them as the ‘new Europe.
Roberta (Westchester)
Well maybe across the U.S. and Europe the old order isn't working for the people who work their butts off to enrich the 1%. These same-old same-old politicians don't offer solutions because why would they risk their own privileges?
John Brews ✅✅ (Tucson, AZ)
Trump has no purpose beyond posturing on stage. Unfortunately he has a lot of bit players in his act, following his script. The ominous background to Trump’s skit is that there are half a dozen bonkers billionaires behind him that are pulling strings, running McConnell and the GOP, and brainwashing 85% of Republicans with a huge disinformation apparatus, a cacophony of alternative facts that drowns all common sense. It’s the billionaire crazies that are the bigger danger.
Gordon Alderink (Grand Rapids, MI)
Pence, Pompeo, Bolton, and Trump are straw men and an embarrassment.
Boris and Natasha (97 degrees west)
America set a match to the world order with our ill-conceived invasion of Iraq, followed by the equally foolish belief in an Arab Spring in which democracy would flower throughout the Middle East. It set the stage for Europe's refugee crisis that fuels the rise of the anti-immigrant right. Iraq with its Sunni minority ruling a Shiite majority, was our bulwark against Iran, until Sadaam decided to be his own man. We helped in the creation of an Iranian superstate with our meddling.
dave (california)
I agree about trump -a product of americas' most awful and stupid people. BUT our constitution is intact and our guns are all pointed in the right directions. AND both China and Russia know trump would love to use them.
Gurbie (Riverside)
“... a curious case of the United States aiding Vladimir Putin’s divisive agenda in Europe.” Not so curious, based on what Mueller has unearthed.
Kenan Porobic (Charlotte, NC)
Sorry Roger, You are wrong. Donald Trump is just a public servant, Obama Barack was an authoritarian ruler. If you as the president work hard to fulfill what you promised on the campaign trail and why the voters had chosen you, then you are just a public servant fulfilling the people’s wishes. However, if you as a candidate promised on the campaign trail something and then as the president implemented the completely opposite agenda, then you are a dictatorial leader who believes that he or she knows better than the hundreds millions citizens. That “holier than you” attitude is a sign of contempt for the voters and indication of bias. Authoritarianism has nothing to do with a harsh language or being soft-spoken. Actually, the voters expect their elected leaders to fight as hard as possible to deliver the promised. Anything less than that would be a treason and betrayal of the voters. I came to the USA as a refugee from a communist country. You bet that I came with a socialist worldview. I even voted for Obama Barack. Frankly, I am shocked with the self-destruction of the Democratic Part that happened over the last decade. For God’s sake, Mr. Trump even won the elections by using the blueprints from the old Democratic manual. That’s the best sign how far the left swerved off the course.
Daniel Rose (Shrewsbury, MA)
"It’s no longer worth pretending that Trump is not in the authoritarian camp." For whom? His supporters do not care, and anyone who knew anything about Trump prior to his election had little or no doubt about his fascist tendencies. He has only ever been able to succeed to the extent that he can find compromising information about and cheat other people.
David Anderson (Chelsea NYC)
"You know, Mr. Pompeo, when you do and say things like that you make smart people in other countries write you off. You make other countries write *us* off. We're the laughing stock now. *Why* do you make smart people in other countries write us off?" D.A. (were I at the conference, but I'm still in NYC really) :-)
John (NY)
..the major political parties are losing power or disintegrating, challenged by nationalist xenophobes.. You still don't get it Roger. The Economist, inadvertently, let the cat out of the bag, when in it in its latest edition, on immigration , wroet "It will still be cheaper for firms to import a rotating cast of IT (Information Technology) contractors rather than train the native population" The natives had it. So would you, were you an English IT student in England The natives had it, with importing cheap labor
Roland Berger (Magog, Québec, Canada)
Trump is weakling the US day after day. It's the right time for Europe to stand firm.
Kenan Porobic (Charlotte, NC)
We have had the chronic problems with Moscow and the Holy Land from the forties, with North Korea from the fifties, with Cuba from the sixties, with Iran from the seventies, with Afghanistan from the eighties, with Iraq from the nineties, with the Al Qaeda from 2001 and with the ISIS from 2011 only to conclude that Donald Trump is the worst kind of international leader we have ever had?! What are all the aforementioned cases? The stunning successes?! You either fix the problems or fire the guys who can’t fix it! Just imagine if a mechanic was working on your car from the fifties or a dentist was drilling your tooth since the sixties. The failure shouldn’t be the acceptable modus vivendi for any Administration! If we were able to compromise or understand the essence, all those problems would have been solved long ago! And now we are critical of Trump for his alleged inability to reach the deal?! Really?
Mat (Kerberos)
Pence is a besotted sycophant so it is natural that he, wagging his tail ecstatically, passes on his Master’s words. That aside, there is a rank smell of defeatism in these comments. Don’t give up and accept your lot, wailing in grief for the recent past - Resist! Fight! Fight him and the Collaborators in the courts, in the Town Hall’s, in Congress, on doorsteps. Hold to account where you see them (legally!). Any democratic or investigative device; use them, choke the Administration and the Quislings with paperwork and bureaucracy no matter how minor, make their lives difficult at every turn and watch the machinery grind to a slow crawl. Odd as it may seem, Charlie Chaplin offers some prescient words: “...I say - do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed - the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.” Trump and his cabaret of oafish, mediocre puppets are but a passing fad - and America will re-emerge, with a better understanding of itself. The shock of Brexit may create a better country in the long-term as reality clips the UK’s delusions. Yellow Vests, Orban, Conte etc, these too will all pass. We have seen Orban face mass-protests already. Press on regardless. Old alliances don’t perish - govts may bicker, but the people remember otherwise. Solidarity, friends
richard (the west)
The pope, as Stalin noted, has no armies. But he, along with Angela Merkel, represent the two remaining powerful advocates for a world ased upon something more human than naked power.
alyosha (wv)
This is another piece on the dire problem that anti-EU nationalists have been elected in Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic. Which we know, already. But, why did it happen? Why, indeed? Poland and Hungary, perpetrators of significant horrors during WWII, escaped the postwar catharsis of West Europe, a decade-long process that refashioned Germany and Italy into something like the countries that had been the Allies. To the contrary, in the 1990s, the West offered goodies without self-criticism a la Germany, plus the macho anti-Russian taunt of joining NATO. For this, the East had to sign a pledge: (a) to be liberal democratic states, a la West Europe; (b) to have a good, decent, Western attitude about the Holocaust and Jews. Signing the paper, disingenuously, was no big deal. Getting the goodies and joining the military club were. So, some of the historically most antisemitic and nationalist countries in the world agreed to the liberal internationalist code of the prosperous EU and awesome NATO. After a quarter century, the East's agreement to the humanistic terms shows itself to have been facile. It has been swept away by serious conflicts over eg, Poland's self-image (victim, not perpetrator), and Hungary's racial exclusiveness (e.g. no refugees). Brussels' imperiousness has intensified the crisis. The "illiberals" aren't just thugs. Like hollowed-out America, their rage obscures real grievances. The cure starts with listening to them.
Mimi (Baltimore and Manhattan)
"Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on a hapless mission to shape Trump’s caprices into policy, declared, “You can’t achieve peace and stability in the Middle East without confronting Iran.” Trump's "caprices" is exactly right. What does that mean? Trump has no "foreign policy" - it's not even that he hates alliances or wishes to destroy post WWII objectives of unity and peace. Trump picks his winners and losers - those he favors - those he believes - those he will agree with and support and those he will not. He's like a 5th grade boy picking members for his Dodge ball team. "I pick you - Putin, Erdogan, Kim Jong Un, Netanyahu, Mohammed bin Salman." His minions are Pence, Pompeo, Bolton, Navarro, and the others who surround him to do his bidding. There's no "policy" per se; there's just who he wants to be friends with. Literally.
MC (NJ)
“autocratic convictions of the new strongmen — Vladimir Putin in Russia, Xi Jinping in China, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, and Donald Trump in the United States” Interesting that Roger Cohen left out autocratic convictions of Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel. Every day Netanyahu moves Israel away from a democracy to an ethnocracy and theocracy, attacks the rule of law - both international UN, EU, NATO and domestically in Israel, attacking the free press, independent judiciary, his own military and intelligence establishment, is charged with corruption - just like Trump in America. Israel has always flouted international law: military occupation, annexation of land, Apartheid like policies in occupied territories, illegal nuclear weapons, shoots unarmed protesters at Gaza border, wall built on occupied land (in a country of walls and fences). Netanyahu makes it all worse. Netanyahu is allies with Putin. Allies with overt anti-Semites like Orban and any other right-wing European nationalist working to destroy EU and post-WWII European order, as long as they support Netanyahu’s Israel. And it is the same axis of US-Isreal-Saudi Arabia that along with Neocons and big oil and military industrial complex that have us Iraq War disaster that is now preparing for war/combat (Netanyahu official tweet and pronouncement at Munich conference) with Iran - again with American blood and treasure as Israel and Saudi Arabia risk nothing. Roger, try not to forget Netanyahu next time.
Peasant Theory (Las Vegas)
Americans should start practicing what Trump is incapable of doing. Be nice
Kenan Porobic (Charlotte, NC)
Please, let me summarize the Democratic strategy for the next elections: Allegedly, the fellow Americans are just the fools whom Putin, Kremlin and Russia can easily dupe into voting for the Manchurian candidate with a handful of Facebook and Instagram posts. If that is not the most biased, hateful and distasteful statement is history of America that insults 50% of the voters, than what beats this kind of nonsense? Please, enlighten us what is more despicable and distasteful while targeting the larger segment of population… That is far more stupid than anything Trump ever did in his life. At least, he is insulting the foreigners, something irrelevant for the outcome of the next elections...
richard (the west)
To whom in the rest of the world does the blimp Pompeo's hectoring not ring false? After our support of (insert litany of anti-democratic, right-wing police states) his hyperbolic lectoring rhetoric about Iran and Venzuela (but not, for the moment, Korea and Russia) must be tragically amusing. It's of a piece with our anti-nuclear proliferation sermonizing: do as I say, not as I do. The worm , though, will eventually turn.
Talesofgenji (NY)
...German-American relations are now at a low point. Ms. Merkel does not suffer fools gladly
Kenan Porobic (Charlotte, NC)
Please, could we finally forget Mr. Putin and Russia? They cannot harm us. Only we can harm ourselves! Never forget it!
Jo Williams (Keizer, Oregon)
Reading this, I thought for a minute I had picked up the latest video game that only boys can love. Conflict; multilateral liberalism (the good guys), v. Strongmen competing for power (baddies). Engagement v. Sanctions. And telling mention of a reporter challenging Pompeo on the Khashoggi killing. I support multilateralism. But I am tired of the UN, NATO, the EU, ignoring a Middle East that treats half their population as property. Yes- women. Where are the liberal sanctions, the annual conferences, the boycotts? Global discussions on manufacturing, social networks, nuclear proliferation, immigration. And meanwhile women are jailed and tortured for wanting to drive; tracked, kidnapped for wanting freedoms we liberals enjoy but dare not discuss while ....engaging. What is it about female genital mutilation that NATO, the UN doesn’t get? Does it take videos, screaming..... Get back to me on liberal multilateralism when it deals with - women. You know....half the world’s population?
Kenan Porobic (Charlotte, NC)
I cannot believe my ears how detached from the reality the liberals became. They are their worst enemies! When they argue for the open-border policy regarding the dozens millions illegal immigrants they claim that those poor people are running away from the cruel gangs raping, blackmailing and killing them in their native country. However, when they oppose Trump request for building the wall on the southern border, suddenly all those drug-dealing gangs shooting the innocent civilians magically transform into law-obeying citizens overnight so there is no need to build any obstacle toward the perfectly safe neighboring countries. Sorry, you cannot have it both ways. Please, choose carefully your stance and stop contradicting yourself! Love your fellow countrymen at least as much as the foreigners! It seems that your bias and prejudice is directed exclusively against your fellow citizens!
Kenan Porobic (Charlotte, NC)
Do we really understand what it means to work on behalf of Putin, the Kremlin, Russia, China, the Al Qaeda and the ISIS? It means to intentionally polarize and divide the country for the sake of ANY political party or our selfish interests. It means to intentionally hide and fail to promote the new strategies and ideas that would be deadly to the world terrorism. It means to insist on keeping us involved into waging the never-ending foreign conflicts from Korea and Vietnam, over Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya to Cuba and Venezuela. It means exporting our industrial base overseas for the sake of increased personal profits and stock values. It means failing to teach the Israelis and the Palestinians how to live peacefully as the good neighbors helping each other. It means piling up our national debt for being unable to sacrifice for our country. It means using our media outlets, Facebook, Tweeter and Instagram for the endless brainwashing of our youth, thus making them chronically obese, physically inactive, educationally substandard for being addicted to the college sports, drunkards, drug addicts and without any self-esteem, thus being dependent on the brand name lothing, makeup, jewelry, body piercing and tattoos for the feel-better short-lived moments. If you want to finally face and confront those individuals, just step in front of the nearby mirror!
Dissatisfied (St. Paul MN)
We are descending into darkness and all Mitch McConnell cares about is tax cuts for his donors. He should be tried for treason.
Epaminondas (Santa Clara, CA)
Donald Trump isn't Neville Chamberlain. He's Edward VIII. We need to vote him out of there next year.
Rick Morris (Montreal)
The proof will be in the pudding. I can see Putin creating an artificial crisis (in Ukraine, perhaps, or the Baltics) where he will intentionally test NATO's cohesiveness. Specifically, he'll want to see how ready Trump is to ditch the Alliance and not get involved. Trump's instincts surely would be to stay away and not live up to America's commitment to NATO. But can he be constrained? And who will be the one to do it? Can it be the Senate, relatively spineless so far? Certainly Trump's inner circle won't dissuade him. I think we're one international incident away from finding out.
Edward (Wichita, KS)
Pompeo is a mouthpiece for the Koch's Libertarian world view, which Trump and apparently most other billionaires (except George Soros, which is why they vilify him) share. Charles Koch's most memorable and revelatory statement, "My fair share is all of it," tells us what we need to know about the larger global picture. Democracy is an impediment to cornering the world's fossil fuels, minerals, water, etc. It also impedes the ability of the oligarchs and plutocrats to keep the poor providing cheap labor. A divided Europe is helping the ultra rich, who have no allegiance to any country, maintain the global status quo.
Robb Kvasnak (Rio de Janeiro)
Excellent analysis of the present situation and at the same time really frightening. As an American it strikes me as so Kafkaesqe because my nation has let this development happen - in plain sight. Our media -instead of seeking a solution, mires in the circus of sensational and profit, much like rubberneckers gorging their eyes on a traffic accident in which people are dying right before their eyes and yet so thrilled by the gruesome spectacle do not call an ambulance. It is as though, for some, the shepard boy has called “wolf” too many times and now as they watch the wolf devour the sheep they are forgetting that in the future they will be starving because they passively stood by watching their future being eaten by evil.
spade piccolo (swansea)
@Robb Kvasnak Analysis? Where???
Mother (California)
The only way to rid the world of Trump and Pence is to get the, up until now, non voters energized and absolutely committed to voting. But how? Polls need to stay open at night longer, people need to car share to polls, dems need to locally encourage voting in non voting areas like 18 year olds, it needs to be a national mission. Create a picture of good to follow the trump term to undo all the destruction. And to understand what we have enjoyed will be lost if we loose in 2020. Everything will deteriorate.
Pam J (New Hampshire)
Now is the time for Democratic politicians, anti-Trump Republicans, retired U.S. military officers, American business people, and other influential anti-Trump Americans to contact their European counterparts and friends to reassure them as often as possible that Trump's approach is unpopular with a majority of Americans, and that they will work extremely hard to make sure that he won't be re-elected. For instance, Admiral Stavridis (Ret.), the 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, wrote in Time recently that several U.S. (Ret.) generals who worked for Trump left the administration because they thought he was immoral and an ineffective commander in chief whose decisions sow chaos and fuel disunity. It appears that our military commanders are leading the way in signaling to our European allies that Trump/Pence do not reflect America's foreign policy values and interests. With Trump/Pence out of office in January 2021, a new Democratic president would likely be able to heal ailing relations with the U.S.'s European allies and promote multilateralism through returning the U.S. to the Iranian nuclear agreement and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Our European allies must not lose faith that many American voters will have those goals in mind when they cast their votes in November 2020.
ANNE IN MAINE (MAINE)
It is inconceivable to me that Trump even thinks of fragmentation in any part of the world. He has demonstrated over and over that all his thoughts are directed to increasing the power and glorification of Trump. And all of his long range plans go no more than 5 hours into the future.
Dick M (Kyle TX)
Let's face it. Trump is, in his actions towards European countries, destroying the history of the populations that did, up until recently, Make America Great. It's like he's attempting in some weird way to erase the original source of the the people who made the effort to create the America that the founders set down the plans for. As just one example his base should visit, view and reflect on the 183rd commemoration of the battle of the Alamo in San Antonio this February/March. To slowly walk thru the large hall and think about the flags of the European birth places of the defenders of the Mission shows much of the sources of the spirit that immigrants provided that helped to create the great America that was passed on to Trump. History shows that when members of a group intend to accomplish new and great goals they join together to do so. The people of neighborhoods, towns, cities, states all unite to gain the common good. Now it is important that the democratic countries join together to accomplish great things for mankind. One country alone, no matter how rich, powerful or proud can achieve as much as all democracies together.
TheManOnTheStreet (Sweden)
@Dick M The alt-right hate everything about the USA. Its people, its laws, its policies and institutions. They want to tear it all down and replace it with a White Christian oligarchy. They're neoconfederates in all but name.
Baxter Jones (Atlanta)
Too early for a Requiem. The Democratic House majority is a good first step; a rejection of Trump Republicans in 2020 will be welcome by democracies around the world. A majority of countries, and people, still want what America and western Europe at their best represent. A good place to understand the counter-narrative to this pessimism is Steven Pinker's "Enlightenment Now". You don't have to accept every detail of his argument to nevertheless emerge with reasoned optimism about our future.
John F McBride (Seattle)
NATO and Western Allianxes’ defense of democratic, as well as Western cultural and philosophical ideals, is only as effective as China’s Great Wall was as effective as those maintaining, manning and defending it. We live in an age when our opponents have succeeded in accomplishing what China’s foes did: they’ve seduced, bribes and otherwise persuaded a Trump clique to simply open the gates and let them in.
DonD (Wake Forest, NC)
The truly scary characteristic of Trump is his apparent inability or willful refusal to discriminate between legitimate and reliable information and information provided by sycophants and manipulators. On North Korean nuclear weapons activity, Trump fessed up that he believed Putin's statement that Kim Jong Un was not continuing to improve his nuclear weapons program, despite the US intelligence conclusion that North Korea was continuing its uranium enrichment and missile development program. On the southern border issue, Trump decided to follow Fox News' Sean Hannity on declaring a national emergency despite overwhelming advice from Congressional leaders that he would be causing a constitutional crisis. So what comes next? Does he decide to order massive bombing of Iran because Israel's Netanyahu convinced him to? With Trump, the outrageous is always possible.
amp (NC)
I was born at the end of WW II. I'm a year older than Trump. We both have been through an era of great change that brought stability and leadership to the world. Somehow despite or maybe because of his inherited riches we came to value much different things. I have always believed in honor, that your word is a sacred bond, that strength comes from acting together and with a united front comes peace. What to Trump and his rabid supporters does 'make America great again' actually mean? That we can be bullies, be despised for turning on our friends, act in arrogant swaggering ways and embrace our enemies because they are strongmen who pay little attention to their citizens and freedom. The United States has not always behaved honorably but those incidents were one off not our foreign policy. Trump and I will not live long enough to see the righting of all that he and his administration have broken.
dave (mountain west)
'Accidents' of history can reshape the world at the speed of light. The assassination of the Austrian Archduke led to World War 1, arguably World War 2 and the disintegration of Europe. The assassination of course was no accident, and neither was the election of Trump, who with the help of his own criminal minions, an ignorant base, and a news media thirsty for profit and willing to give Trump unlimited exposure, stole the election from a centrist Democrat. The world will be extremely lucky if it can avoid another very dark period of world history.
John Brews ✅✅ (Tucson, AZ)
Trump differs from most authoritarians in how he got the job. Folks like Stalin, Castro etc came through a very dangerous trial period involving a revolution and extraordinary capacity for survival. Trump came up a spoiled brat with money paving his path. Selected not in trial by fire, but by a handful of bilious billionaires who thought he’d make a good front man, a circus barker. Unfortunately, their marionette has tangled strings and doesn’t respond properly. It’s time to cut him loose.
David A. Lee (Ottawa KS 66067)
I agree that there will be no peace and stability in the Middle East without Iran. It is a large and culturally and scientifically sophisticated society. It was the barbaric act of Israel--our supposed ally in that region--to think up the stupendously idiotic tactic of assassinating Iran's scientists. Moreover, there will be no real stability in the MIddle East unless and until Israel herself forsakes her ambition for military supremacy in that region based on her own nuclear arsenal, which is itself a preposterous inversion, the fourth or fifth largest in the world, designed to protect one of the world's and the regions's smallest ethnic populations. Everybody knows that Israel could not sustain itself in this posture if it were not in fact the 51st U.S. state--but a fact which cannot sustain itself indefinitely. Unfortunately, nobody in this country has the power or the courage and the vision to confront the insidiously false eschatology behind this predicament--and which prevents the American people from confronting the disasters which await us if we do not drastically change this mindless direction.
Larry Roth (Ravena, NY)
Thank you for acknowledging what so many in the US media simply refuse to see: Trump is an authoritarian. All he cares about is power: having it and being seen to have it. Cooperation and compromise are not is his tool box. It's either dominate or be dominated - and Putin obviously has Trump under his thumb for reasons that are all coming out now. Beyond that, Europe sees that the US is hardly a strong example for the virtues of democracy The US is now led by a mentally challenged, mentally unstable incompetent, one who is backed up by a political party that couldn't keep him from power and is now fully behind him. The institutions of democracy in the US misfired badly. Can they recover? The fact that recovery is in question adds a level of concern all by itself. It is no surprise the old order is breaking up, because the new doctrine is every country for itself, and devil take the hindmost.
Demosthenes (Chicago)
The next Democratic president will have a massive mess to clean up. It’s not just Trump’s terrible abuse of power, corruption, destruction of our political norms, and anti-environmental record. As we see from this piece, repair of our alliances is also essential. No president in our history has destroyed so much in so little time. Sadly, we also see a third of our countrymen like it. Moreover, the GOP will need to be in political exile for decades or replaced by a sane center right party. Otherwise the Republican Party will continue to destroy our country and the world.
Sarah (Arlington, VA)
The highly respected German daily newspaper, Sueddeutsche Zeitung described the U.S. initiated Middle East Peace conference succinctly: "The Middle East Conference in Warsaw prior to the Munich conference showed the sharp contrast between the United States and Europe. (Secretary of State) Pompeo exploited the deep seated hostility of Poland and Hungary towards Brussels, as well as frictions between these countries and Germany, to drive a wedge into the United States and the European Unions relationship". As an aside, most European countries only sent second tier representatives to the Warsaw conference, while the Munich Security Conference is attended by the creme of heads of states, ranking government members, ambassadors, etc.. Yes, Munich is hope, while Warsaw was a requiem, albeit one played by a miserable tuned orchestra.
Jackson (Virginia)
Believe in the evidence? No, our “allies” just want to do business with Iran. And they need Iran for oil. Let’s make this about economics and not Trump. But they should feel free to increase this own defense spending. They have enjoyed pax America long enough.
Sarah (Arlington, VA)
@Jackson Bunk, the EU does not need Iran for oil. A large part of the EU is getting more and more energy though clean energy. And you might have overseen that the dear leader of the US has chastised mainly Germany, but other EU countries as well as getting the majority of their oil and gas from Russia. As to defense spending, the EU is fast approaching the agreed upon 2022 goal. And as to your Latin attempt, it is called Pax Americana, dear.
Joseph Huben (Upstate NY)
Voting Trump out of office may not work at all. His efforts to deny and shield Russian cyberattacks and the disgusting cowardice of all Republicans to denounce Trump make it very likely that he can win. Democrats in Florida and Georgia and North Dakota were robbed and the voters in these states were denied by Republicans who purged voter rolls, moved voting places, and refused to permit newly registered voters to vote. So, impeachment, law suits of every kind, state investigations, property seizures every measure possible to prevent the success of Putin to destroy America. Trump is gutting DHS task forces to combat cyberattacks. So many think that this will be remedied. There is no evidence for this assumption. There is only inertia.
Jackson (Virginia)
@Joseph Huben. You know nothing was ever proved, right? And how convenient to forget McCain was a war monger.
Cynthia (Madrid)
The US is not really interested in a rules based world order.
Truthbetoldalways (New York , NY)
I do not quite get it why - in Mr. Cohen's eyes -everything the Trump administration says or does is wrong , and everything the Europeans do is right . And additionally Iran gets a free pass from Mr. Cohen on an entire slew of internal and external extreme nastiness . Why ? because it agreed to 'delay' its nuclear bomb ambitions ( but not ballistic missiles and other delivery mechanisms ) for 10 years in return for Billions in cash , international acceptance , and a free hand to promote terror and destabilize countries , and threaten and take concrete actions to annihilate Israel . Well , the reality is different . Europe is falling apart , as so many who commented here have pointed out , and Iran is nastier than ever . And yes , Mr. Trump is a major bully , but even bullies sometimes do the right thing . Which Mr. trump is certainly doing where Iran is concerned...
ChristineMcM (Massachusetts)
The vendetta on Iran is insane--they want to start a warwith Iran because Israel and the Saudis want it.the only thing driving this corrupt administration is money.
Sarah (Arlington, VA)
@ Truthbenot told. "Europe is falling apart". The countries in Europe working against the EU - while still being members - are trying to undermine democracy and follow the example of Trumpish nationalism writ large, namely Poland and Hungary with their newest elected arch-right strongmen.
ultimateliberal (new orleans)
Pompous, Trumpet, etc, are undoubtedly in Putin's pocket. Pompeo (Pompous) can't think of anything more diplomatic than "That's a ridiculous question"? The USA is now a third world country, and we'd better do something very soon to avoid a total transformation to North Korean or Russian rule. We are on the brink because of the Trumpet.
Madeline Conant (Midwest)
You would think history would have taught us not to let the welfare of the common people sink too low. But arrogance and greed win out, until we all lose.
Jack (New York)
"The president is for muscular unilateralism in a Hobbesian world — except he hasn’t heard of Hobbes." This turn of phrase is absolutely brilliant and captures our dilemma perfectly. There is so much to despise about Trump and Trumpism but ignorance always tops my list.
Kenan Porobic (Charlotte, NC)
Here is some really crazy idea. Is it possible that our governmental policies create the waves of refugees flooding our shores? For God’s sake, after the decades of the harsh economic sanctions against Iran, Iraq, Libya, Cuba and Venezuela, no wonder that the millions of their citizens are fleeing to America!
Tefera Worku (Addis Ababa)
Parochialism and irrationality invite only great disaster.S.Sudan after dozens of efforts to reconcile the warring factions the country this month or just recently started exporting oil again after 5 years.In the mean time over 4 Mill or more than 1/2 the population r an IDP or in this country and the UN urgently needs 180 Mill USD to feed the suffering.All these because Machar insisted on being the sole spokes person of Neur tribe's and Salvakir that of the Jinka's.Such actors not only they create a headache to the wider world but thy end up hurting the very people they claim to advocate for.The S.S. story it a prototype of a phenomena with a much wider scope:Syria,Somalia,Iraq,Myanmar,etc..In this country too we have Gps appearing in areas naturally rich with exportable Agro or mineral resources that are being beset by actors who intend to or are targeting residents of other ethnicity. Their act disrupts production and delivery, creates 100s of Thous IDPs,etc ruining the local area mainly and hurting the Nation.The World hast to be cared for and this happens when we all tend our respective locality, if needed enlisting outside help,follow rational means that serves the long term interest too.Hence a Global order led by seasoned , highly well informed and are able to come up with reasonable + wise approach figures or Gps is the only viable way to adequately tame the World.In this interconnected World having insulated safe sanctuary is not necessarily possible 2 come by.TMD
Kenan Porobic (Charlotte, NC)
How come that Donald Trump is incapable of comprehending the Democratic-run House and Nancy Pelosi? It is so simple! The American government is supposed to finance and promote the construction of the concrete wall on the occupied territories, not on our southern border!
Michele Caccavano (NY)
When Trump said......”I am the storm””........he knew he would destroy everything of value that America thought it stood for. He is the storm......weaving a path of utter destruction in his wake.....not for any specific reason.....just because he can. What a disgrace to the Presidency.
Roy Greenfield (State Collage Pa)
For a long time Netanyahu has wanted Israel and the United States to go to war to change the regime in Iran. It is clear the US is trying to get the European Nations to reinpose the boycotts that were dropped in the Iranian Nuclear Treaty so as to have an excuse to start the war. Why the US seems so supportive of this course should be examined. Could financial interest that President Trump and Jared Kushner have with Saudi Arabia be a significant factor in shaping the US policy? Congress is shirking their responsibilities if they do not investigate this.
michaelf (new york)
The prior era of peace in Europe from the treaty of Vienna in 1815 to World War I was marked by strong waves of nationalism (formation of Germany and Italy), urbanization, revolution (1848), and driven by the industrial revolution/printing press. It is fascinating that the current post World War II period is fraying with similar stresses but this time driven by the computer revolution/Information Age. History shows that we are in the midst of a significant process of reordering societies, the full implications of which are not clear to anyone. This trend supersedes the individual personalities of the leaders of different countries and is driven instead by a global society that trades, communicates, and competes in ways never seen before. In the face of this change and stress people are attracted to tribal themes promising power, safety, and dominance -- hence moderates in the center are struggling.
faivel1 (NY)
@michaelf I think I mention few times this book "The World of Yesterday", by Stefan Zweig (famous Austrian/Jewish writer). In a way it's much more extended version than your great comment. https://www.amazon.com/World-Yesterday-Stefan-Zweig/dp/0803226616/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1550328902&sr=8-1 Brilliant work, that reflects our time of complete absurdity and confusion. "By the author who inspired Wes Anderson’s film, The Grand Budapest Hotel Written as both a recollection of the past and a warning for future generations, The World of Yesterday recalls the golden age of literary Vienna—its seeming permanence, its promise, and its devastating fall."
Evangelos (Brooklyn)
Commentators who say that Trump and Trumpism are mere symptoms of a previously existing disorder in our body politic, rather than a cause of it, are only half right. The truer analogy is of a body already weakened by cancer succumbing to an opportunistic infection by a particularly nasty bug. The USA and the western democracies in 2016 faced demographic, economic and other challenges that might be surmounted by wise, principled, forward-looking leadership. Instead, Putin and his autocratic colleagues sought to infect us with the likes Trump, Farage and LePen. The fever rages. The prognosis is unclear.
eclectico (7450)
All too true. Let's hope that the adage is true that political motion is like a pendulum: it has to swing all the way to the end (insanity) before coming back (to sanity).
Rob (Paris)
What happened to persuasion, the art of convincing your opponents by the strength of your arguments? You can't get a majority of national votes? Steal elections by suppressing votes and gerrymandering. You can't get money for your minority supported wall? Declare an emergency and take the money. You can't convince your allies to get out of the Iran deal? Threaten them with financial sanctions. You can't convince the country to accept your ideology? Steal a Supreme Court seat and stack the courts. You can't convince markets to buy your products? Start a trade war. You can't convince your allies to accept your new world order? Break your alliances. Your religion is declining? Force your beliefs on the majority by enacting minority supported laws. Our "businessman" president is ushering in the new, zero-sum brinkmanship of power. America Alone.
sharon5101 (Rockaway Park)
To the commenter who asked "Where's our Lincoln" the answer is quite simple. Lincoln, the first Republican president, wound up dead from an assassin's bullet. It was all downhill from there for the Republicans.
James Wright (Athens)
So true. The GOP is not and never was “the party of Lincoln”. It was and still is “the party of Andrew Johnson”.
Carl Ian Schwartz (Paterson, NJ)
The Trump "Administration" can best be seen as Putin's best shot at destroying America's influence, NATO, and the EU. It's that simple. "Dirty money buys chaos" could be the Trump/Pence/Pompeo motto.
Montreal Moe (Twixt Gog and Magog)
Welcome aboard Roger Cohen. Hereabouts many people saw this coming 30 years ago. I've just about given up on the USA. seven months ago when our war with Saudi Arabia began, the headlines read Canada stands alone. I am expecting the headlines to soon read The USA, China, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, North Korea and the Philippines stand alone. Every day it seems America is less the country that could show us a better way. Does anyone believe America can turn itself around?
Don (Massachusetts)
“Does anyone believe America can turn itself around?” Hopefully, last November was the beginning.
Rocky (Seattle)
One thing to keep in mind is that Pence and Pompeo are not representing the United States of America. They are representing their conservative Christianist extremism. They are trying to fulfill the prophecy of Armageddon and the Apocalypse by provoking Iran into a war. And the prophecy includes the return of all Jews to the Promised Land, so they also act on behalf of Likud. We must bring ourselves to see that the old alliances are gone. There is greater alliance among crooked oligarchs worldwide than there is among nations, greater alliance among American Christian rightists, Russian Orthodox rightists and Likudniks than there is among Americans of many or no faiths. Look where there have been trends to the right, accompanied by lawlessness and destabilization, often funded by big money: the US, the UK, Brazil, the Philippines, Hungary, Israel, Poland, Italy, Turkey, Russia, India a bit... The US - indeed Western democracy - is now confronted with a fifth column unholy alliance among essentially stateless dirty money oligarchs, crypto-fascists, nationalists, and right-wing religionists, and the lackeys and hangers-on that feed and curry them. Trump is only their Trojan Horse. This is a war for the soul of the American Experiment, and for democracy around the world.
Rich D (Tucson, AZ)
I never ever thought in my wildest dreams that I would consider my own country an evil empire, but alas here we are and that is what America indeed has become. I believe America might be forever doomed. A democracy that allows someone like Donald Trump to remain President after what is known about what he and his campaign did to defraud the United States is heading towards an irreversible disaster. It has been proven there were 100 nefarious contacts with Russia amongst his campaign staff, his chosen National Security Advisor lied to the FBI about his Russian contacts and his Campaign Chairman met secretly with a Russian agent and provided him Trump polling data. We now know that Roger Stone, Trump's lifelong friend, communicated directly with the GRU and Wikileaks. This is treason plain and simple. This massive conspiracy to defraud the United States of America could not have been done without the knowledge of and, perhaps, direction by Donald Trump. His deference to Putin and rejection of American intelligence findings is further proof that we have a President compromised by and working for the Russians. His refusal to implement sanctions on the Russians, which were voted into law by Congress, is more than an impeachable offense. There is more than sufficient proof now to clearly state that what any functioning democracy would do is indict this President, try him and, if convicted, put him to death. America is failing all of us and the entire world.
Sandra LaBelle (Eden Prairie MN)
I love that the rest of the world is honoring agreements made and not kowtowing to the US. It’s about time. We’ve demonstrated that we cannot make good decisions, no one aligns with poor decision makers...expect republicans and “his base”.
edward smith (albany ny)
Cohen and the rest of the appeasers want to wait out moderation in Iran on nuclear proliferation- supposedly. These are the same folks who brought you North Korea with hydrogen bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles which are capable of destroying all of our Asian allies and soon to be in your neighborhood if you live on the Left coast. Trick me once- OK. But how many times have these guys been wrong about N. Korea as the regime was propped up and the development went on?
Blue (St Petersburg FL)
Like many authoritarian strongmen who come to power it is at least initially through mass support of the people of their country Because of the peculiarity of our election process, Trump could with a minority. This minority included the majority if white men and women votes. The breeding ground was not economic alienation as the pundits declared. That was just giving these voters a free pass for their seemingly unfashionable vote. They voted out of anger. Anger at a loss of their way of life. Just like many white people in the South yearn for the Confederacy, great swathes of the white people in the Midwest want their factories back. They want a lifestyle where jobs are inherited. Where education is not important, where they can live insularly in closed communities. This great disappointment and anger over change propelled a racist hate spewing man into the White House. America should never be looked at the same way again. Not just because of Trump, but because he reflects who such a large portion of America are.
Maurie Beck (Northridge California)
“The president is for muscular unilateralism in a Hobbesian world — except he hasn’t heard of Hobbes.” Hobbesian characters are often not self-aware, or aware of anything other than their Hobbesian appetites driving their behavior, which they are generally unaware of. Of course, not all Hobbesian characters lack self-awareness. I think Putin and Xi Jinping know exactly what they are doing. They at least have a semblance of an intellect. President Trump does not.
the doctor (allentown, pa)
I’ve never heard the astute Mr. Cohen sound so grim. It seems have concluded that the European liberal order is fractured beyond repair, it’s post-war tenants of open borders and unfettered capitalism no longer embraced by people struggling in the face of obsence corporate greed and immigration from war-torn and imporverished nations - in short, fertile ground for xenophobic authoritarians to exploit and ultimately control. America’s involvement and leadership is crucial to mitigating the calamitous potential of this historical moment, but it too is fractured by coroporate greed, evidenced by growing wealth disparity and an ignorant and racist president spreading lies about freeloading allies and the savagery of immigrants crossing our own borders for a better, safer life. We are in the midst of an inflection point, in my opinion, and the future of western civilization hangs in the balance.
Anthony (Western Kansas)
Trump is awful, but at least he has not led Europeans countries into a war for no reason, like W. Trump's national emergency and destruction of the Iran agreement illustrates that he is a lying tyrant, but he is gone in a few months (if he doesn't declare an emergency to keep himself in office), so European leaders should know that American politics changes with the wind. You get a tool of the military industrial complex, then an enlightened leader in Obama, then a tyrant in Trump. If we can survive two years of Trump, which is likely, then we can go back to being the progressive country we should be. But, as far as being a world leader, the US has shown that its leadership is not the end all.
Steve Snow (Cumming, Georgia)
What has sickened me for the past two,inglorious years, is that this nation, this electorate, saw this disaster coming .... and invited it in. Mr. Cohen makes too much sense... and that scares me. I worry mightily for the futures of my grandchildren, and as much so for the electorate of this country that views a man like trump as a leader.. when for all of his inglorious life he has been anything but!
A Eeyore (UK)
Maybe take a second look at the Statue of Liberty and what it stands for? Or perhaps what it once stood for?
David G. (Monroe NY)
Although I’m no fan of Trump (to put it mildly), I’m with Pompeo on this one. Let’s face it, Iran is behind so much of the world’s terrorism, nuclear agreement or not. Most of the Arab countries are terrified of Iran, and would happily work for its fundamentalist demise. As for Europe, I’m sure Merkel, Macron, and May (“The 3M Corp”) have good intentions, but Merkel especially needs to be called out for the ill-considered welcome mat she unfurled for the Muslim overrun of Europe. This is really what’s pulling Europe apart, although it’s impolite to say so. And honestly, does anyone care about Khashoggi? We may have to hold our noses, but the cooperation in Warsaw between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Gulf States, and Israel is more important than a political hit job.
Cranford (Montreal)
@David G. And when there was no one left to protest, they came for me.
C.L.S. (MA)
@David G. Honestly, and I also am not a Trump fan, the problem is not "Iran" nor "the Muslims overrunning Europe." As Roger Cohen very directly explains it, on Iran you have it precisely wrong. The "Iran Deal" has everything to do with peace, keeping Iran out of the nuclear club, and preventing a war with Iran. As for the Muslim Overrun of Europe, yes, that is a real issue and one that The 3M Corp and the EU will have to deal with. On this one you are right, and Iran needs to be part of the solution meaning a peace agreement in Syria and a reversal of the refugee flow. But lastly, and Yes with a capital "Y", we do definitely care about Khashoggi. When we look the other way in these situations, cynically accepting realpolitiks, we will lose it.
Sarah (Arlington, VA)
@David G. Why is that those who are 100% behind Trump's policies and chastise the countries that their hero has done repeatedly, e.g. Germany, always pretend they are not Trump supporters. An no, Chancellor Angela Merkel's humanitarian help of starving and displaced Muslims due to civil and other wars, the latter initiated by none other than the US - did not result in Muslims to "overrun" - whatever that means - Europe.
Paul (Shelton, WA)
The elephant in the room is not being discussed. It is the collapse of the EU birthrate down to 1.6 births per woman. It takes a 2.1 Total Fertility Rate to sustain a civilization. So, all the sturm und drang about liberal, conservative, big changes, mean nothing if the TFR does not rise, and soon. The EU will collapse from lack of children. See "How Civilizations Die" by David Goldman. Japan, which allows no immigration, is at TFR 1.41, schools are closing, villages disappearing, population aging---who is going to support the old people, who are already being warehoused? S. Korea is worse off, TFR of 1.21 and only 40,000 immigrants allowed. Russia 1.6. USA 1.91. Canada, 1.6. Australia 1.71. In a word, the developed world is slowly committing civilization suicide. THAT is what we should be holding conferences about. Everything else is pencil stubs and paper clips.
C.L.S. (MA)
@Paul What!? So, all of these developed countries will collapse if they decline in population? First, I doubt it. Second, if you really need more people, immigration sounds fine to me. Third, I do remember as long ago as the 1970s the predictions by the world's best demographers that total world population would level off at about 11 billion and not rise further, and current data and trends 40 years later confirm that they were right. Sure, the relative percentage of that 11 billion people living in Asia and Africa, vs. Europe and the Americas, is higher than before and will continue to increase. So what? We (liberal democracies) don't need to procreate more or face suicide. That is absurd.
Katrin (Wisconsin)
@Paul I just got back from the Wisconsin Counties Association Legislative Forum, where we learned that only six of the 72 Wisconsin counties are growing in population; the rest are stagnant or shrinking, especially in the northern/western part of the state. That's leading to crisis situations where the tax base cannot support even essential services while the Republican state legislators continue to try and cut taxes further and those affected wonder why their roads don't get plowed and why their nursing homes are closing. One supervisor suggested that this situation could be fixed if abortion were to become illegal (which received shocked responses). We need to encourage legal immigration and help new immigrants adapt and assimilate. There's room enough for all of us.
Maureen Steffek (Memphis, TN)
@Paul The vast majority of humans are non white and have been since long before Columbus sailed. The 500 year plan to enslave, colonize, or commit genocide to maintain white supremacy has failed. The only path left for human survival is mutual respect and cooperation. It is apparent from the immigration fight on our southern border (and all the other undocumented residents of the U.S. from other parts of the world) that there are millions who want to live in better economic and more democratic conditions. Our fight needs to be for our planet and our species. Democracy is an exportable idea. Except for Russia, your list of "civilized" countries proves that. The United States exported Democracy to all of them!
Rita (California)
In summary, Putin’s energies on supporting Trump were well spent.
Alternate Identity (East of Eden, in the land of Nod)
The existing system, set up largely by the United States in the wake of World War II, is being steadily kicked to pieces. One of the major factors in this is Donald Trump. The existing system is not perfect, but we have not had a major war in nearly three generations. It has kept the lid on, allowed dialogue, and differences to be worked out without bloodshed, and has raised the level of security and standard of living for hundreds of millions of people. Donald Trump does not understand the concept of "net benefit to all". To him, everything is zero-sum. For him to win, therefore, someone else must lose. This man, if he is allowed to do sufficient damage, could start another major war. And this one will be fought with nuclear weapons.
Misterbianco (Pennsylvania)
Characterizing Trump in conventional terms like ‘Authoritarian’ falls way short of the mark; we a new descriptor. With apologies to the late, great American literalist John Ciardi, perhaps ‘Ignoratarian’ might be a better fit.
c harris (Candler, NC)
What is curious is the Cohen's continuing to drag in Putin's name whenever Trump makes any of his dumb comments. Get over it there is a populist mov't in Europe that is focused on ending the long status quo of elite control of the economies in Europe. During the 2008 recession Germany pumped up its economy while it demanded austerity from the rest of the EU. It crushed Greece with a vindictive effort to recoup its bad bank loans. But Goldman Sachs who advised the Greeks to hide their debt continues to live very profitably on Wall Street. There are angry people out there who are not impressed with corporate news media's love affair with neo cons who think that NATO is their pet. Trump wants Europe to pay up but Europe apparently sees no mortal danger from "Putin". I agree that the European leaders are absolutely right about opposing the Trump Netanyahu agenda to stir up a war with Iran.
Donald (Yonkers)
Trump is terrible, but this piece is based on a ludicrous premise, which is that Trump is unique in his hypocrisy and warmongering. Cohen mentions the sainted McCain, who would be fully behind Trump’s push for confrontation with Iran. Cohen talks about Khashoggi, but leaves out Yemen, a war that started with Obama’s support. And speaking of wars, who can keep count of the number of countries we are bombing? That started before Trump. The one legitimate point Cohen makes is about the Iran treaty, Obama’s greatest foreign policy accomplishment, which Trump has abrogated. But for the most part Trump’s aggressive bullying is not as different from his predecessors as many Americans like to imagine.
Ryan (GA)
Even as the world's population swings further and further to the left based on common sense and the lessons learned from history, our political systems have been hijacked by an international network constructed by the extreme right. These extremists and terrorists have perverted the concepts of law and justice in order to allow right-wing criminals to ignore the will of each nation's voters, installing dictators by exploiting the loopholes in every stable political system. More than ever before in history, the voice of the people is being drowned out by an endless tide of money and rampant interference from foreign espionage and sabotage operations. We have neglected our security for too long, and the extreme right has exposed and penetrated every weak point that our modern republics have left unguarded. In this respect, the medieval despotism of Putin, the Saudis and Erdogan has proven far stronger and more secure than any post-medieval constitutional form of government. The Extreme Radical Right, led by Putin and his vassal Trump is not waging a war against liberalism as we know it. They are waging war on CLASSICAL liberalism. The notions of free markets, personal and political liberty, and government of, for and by the people are under attack. Achievements such as the abolition of monarchy, caste systems and state mercantilism are rapidly being undone. Classical liberalism, the cause once championed by conservatives, is steadily being destroyed by the extreme right.
Alfred di Genis (Germany)
What were the insoluble problems that led to the senseless slaughter of WWI and its murderous second round some 25 years later? What today are the man-made political issues whose solution are beyond human intelligence and are leading to the extinction of our species after its brief, lightening-flash period of life on this planet? Which ones are worth that fate exactly? The answers, of course, reside indelibly, inescapably in the primal force of the lower brain that binds us to each other and to our collective destiny.
Kenan Porobic (Charlotte, NC)
We cannot be harmed by the Russian meddling into our elections as long as we are smart, united, tolerant and cohesive. The Russian meddling is effective only if we are hateful, polarized, biased and antagonistic. However, if that were the case, then the Russian meddling compared to all those other problems is completely irrelevant. It means the Russian meddling is ALWAYS IRRELEVANT…
Robert O. (St. Louis)
If Trump's version of America first actually stood for America acting alone in its selfish best interest that would be be bad enough but the reality is far worse. Trump is acting in Trump's best interest and in many cases that equates to the best interest of our adversaries. His grasp on power depends solely on division, manipulation and slight of hand. He can only maintain power by weakening or destroying the institutions and relationships that make America great. He can only maintain his financial empire by groveling before his foreign financiers and acceding to their demands no matter the harm to America.
TB (New York)
Hidden behind the obligatory (and yes, deserved) Trump-bashing is Cohen's much-belated and grudging acknowledgement that Europe is imploding. After worshipping the EU for all those years, I guess it would have been awkward to have the entire column devoted to the profound challenges facing Europe, and the stunning lack of vision of its "leaders". You talk about a "leadership void". Perhaps more than a gentle slap on the wrist for Merkel and Cohen's (former?) savior Macron is warranted. The Europeans would do well to focus more on the post-EU era, because Cohen's beloved EU is about to collapse in a heap. And history tells us that won't be pretty. It's a pity that nobody among all those really smart elites noticed the seething anger that has been building for decades among the middle classes in the US and Europe,which is just beginning to boil over. Then Trump would not be President and Europe wouldn't be headed for a very dark place, indeed.
Glenn Ribotsky (Queens)
Despite their sometimes protestations to the contrary, the Republigarchs see eye to hair with Trump on a lot of things. That's because, as Roger notes, they all have a Hobbesian view of the world--it's dog eat dog and rat eat rat--or, to expand, a Calvinist/Social Darwinist view of the world, in which the only thing that matters is to grab as much of the resources for yourself as you can, and if you can't do that, your poverty is your own fault and you shouldn't be suffered to live anyway (never mind be helped by some social program). Europeans, Canadians, Aussies/New Zealanders, to at least some extent, managed to get beyond this narrow strain of thought; they saw where it was getting them in terms of war and destruction. We here in America had a bad case of the mindset right from our earliest settlements, and we certainly haven't matured nearly as much.
Rocky (Seattle)
This is the denouement of Reagan/Thatcherism. The forces behind Reagan and Thatcher got too greedy, and disrupted the balance of the Pax Americana. Losing that balance led to worker insecurity, much greater wealth and income inequality and mistrust of and outright rebellion from the political class, mistrust and rebellion stoked by the likes of Reagan and Thatcher themselves. You can't demonize and corrupt government long without it starting to fray and be vulnerable to the kleptocrats and moles of destructive greed. Those conditions have been shown in history to be ripe for the rise of demagogues, like Trump in the US, the UKIP/Tory resentful right in the UK, the Italian authoritarians, Orban in Hungary, the Polish retrenchers, etc. Here we are. Reap what you sow, Reagan Restorationists.
JF (New York, NY)
The problem is that we’re all going be the ones being reaped, not just them.
Kenan Porobic (Charlotte, NC)
Listen, we cannot be harmed by the autocratic, despotic, cruel and tyrannical regimes as long as we don’t have ANY RELATIONSHIP with them. The only way they can harm us is if we shared the same bed with them for any reason because then they would manage to destroy our credibility, integrity and values. It means Iran cannot hurt us but the Saudi Arabia surely can!
Paul (Peoria)
The people who make up Trump's diehard base are largely uneducated and have not traveled or seen the world in any meaningful way. Nor are they even able to appreciate the sacrifices made by those that came before them. All of the millions of men and women who died in two world wars last century to secure the peace and relations that Donald Trump is flushing down the toilet in less than two years.
JT (Ridgway, CO)
Nationalism cannot work in a world armed with nuclear weapons. This was recognized after Hiroshima and forgotten by Republicans in 2016 unable to see beyond their immediate electoral self preservation. Nationalism cannot address climate change or any global crisis. Inevitably, it promotes every country for itself. Powerless countries are motivated to arm themselves, ignore environmental damage and human rights to seek advantage. It disgusts me to consider Republican politicians' unwillingness to put their jobs at risk for the sake of the country. Consider their predecessors, the founders, who left their families to fend for themselves to risk life, maiming and liberty and fought in defense of an ideal. How different from todays legislators and cabinet members willing to sell their trust for a ride in a privat plane. I see no reason to pretend this most despicable American generation of legislators should be given respect because of their title, which they then exploit for personal benefit and preservation. They countenance and support Trump's "emergency," his disrespect of and exploitation of troops sent to a border for a PR stunt, their support of Russian influence in our elections– provided it supports their party. Their own families will be ashamed to own them.
Belasco (Reichenbach Falls)
Yes, the Western world is being taken over by buffoons who don't wear the right clothes, didn't attend the right schools and don't say the right things. And whose fault is that? Basically, those swell people Cohen wishes were still in charge. The people Cohen could relate to - who wore the right clothes went to the right schools and said the right things. For decades the traditional elites in these countries including America enriched themselves in an orgy of deregulation, reptilian disinterest in the welfare of the general population, casino capitalism and greed (Macron is an investment banker. Goldman Sachs and their pals on Wall Street ran the US economy all while handing the foreign policy wheel over to the profit-driven military-national security complex . ) Result? Pauperized, traumatized, domestic populations that reached out for anyone, anything that seemed like it really cared about what was actually happening to them. Shakespeare's Lear seems to echo our current plight. Newly thrust out from his castle and truly mixing with the "poor naked" dispossessed "of his land with their "houseless heads and unfed sides" for the first time in the midst of a terrible and rising storm the shaken and addled King remarks, " O, I have ta'en Too little care of this!" And so we have.
Mathias Weitz (Frankfurt aM, Germany)
Who does understand this world. Like in the US, Europe should be economically sane, our unemployment is on a record low, our GNP is on a record high. The economic performance in all countries is growing slowly, but steadily. So why are we at the edge ? One thing i am sure of, these so called strongmen like Trump and Erdogan aren't the answer. They are freeriding a trajectory of a stable economy, but they will fail once this trajectory changes direction. The only crisis is, that they are the wrong people for a real crisis. Another thing i believe in is, that we should not build walls, that we should not dig in. We need forward actions not entrenchment. Putin, China, Jihadists bounce us, so we must bounce back. Also, we should believe in people. Guns don't win a vision, people do. All these strongmen, Trump and Erdogan alike, they fear the people, they need fake news and fear mongering to rally them behind their authoritarian cause. That's why europe is not so bad for me. Being rattled is being alert, being unpopular is being settled, being weak is not having used the hammer. And, half the middle east and africa have a vision, and that is a liberal europe, many are dying to get there. We europeans have already our bases in the crisis regions, we just have not utilized them, for now. In reverse, i do not expect the strongmen to last. Trump, Erdogan, Putin, their domestic base is flimsy, mood changes, our only duty is to outlast them.
Somebody (Somewhere)
The United States never ratified the treaty with Iran. Somehow, Barack Obama thought that his decision was all that was necessary to make it so. It wasn't. Trump did not break America's word, he broke Obama's which was never America's in the first place.
John McDermott (Portugal)
Roger Cohen left out one strongman who has contributed more than anyone to the instability in the middle east and the demonization of Iran, Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, hostile to Iran, an ally of Saudi Arabia and nuclear armed. If Pompeo stresses the human rights abuses of Iran and neglects those of the Saudis, he also neglects those of Israel, one of the prime movers of the Warsaw conference. Iran has negotiated away its nuclear ambitions and adheres to the non-proliferation treaty; Israel maintains a nuclear arsenal, is not a member of the non-proliferation agreement and illegally occupies Palestinian lands. If words must have meaning the West should be frank about the reality of the middle east. Bad actors abound and the worst of them are on our side.
Deja Vu (, Escondido, CA)
I wish this could all be blamed on Trump, but it can't be. Is it really so easy to forget the bashing of France and Germany in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, of Freedom Fries, of SecDef Donald Rumsfeld declaring our NATO allies the "Old Europe," while heralding Poland, Ukraine, and the Baltic countries the vanguards of the "New Europe"? One difference, for sure, was that Rummy, et al, saw Russia as an adversary to be contended with. But they, like Clinton before them, also saw the EU -- a united Europe, with its own currenncy -- as a budding rival, and took active, if mainly surreptitious steps, to undermine the EU, including authorizing the CIA to engage in industrial espionage. Thus, well before the advent of Trump US policy shifted towards a reversal of the post-war goal (considered a pipe dream by many) of promoting a United States of Europe, a reversal which Obama tried to stem with his so-called Apology Tour and subsequent policies, but which Trump has accelerated to the point of destroying the US as a beacon of leadership for individual liberty and the rule of law.
Bob Roberts (Tennessee)
Lumping Trump together with Xi Jinping of China is a sign (to me, anyway) that Mr. Cohen is not to be taken seriously.
JF (New York, NY)
The primary differences are that Xi is much more intelligent than Trump and that the Chinese political system has virtually no systemic checks on its leadership. Trump would do many of the more brutal things Xi does if he could. But the again, Bob, you’re always an apologist for Trump’s behavior.
James Lee (Arlington, Texas)
Trump's departure from postwar American foreign policy illustrates the complex impact of the Atlantic "moat" which separates this country from Europe. Until WWI, that vast expanse of ocean enabled the US to ignore for the most part the quarrels that disrupted the peace of Europe. We remained free to develop our economic and political systems, to destroy slavery, and to seize control of our hinterland from the original inhabitants, all without fear of foreign interference. The rise of fascism and communism, however, convinced visionary leaders like FDR and America's postwar leadership that our insulation from the problems of the rest of the world had ended. They convinced a skeptical public that, in order to prevent a repetition of the horrors of WWII, we would have to form alliances with friendly countries in Europe and Asia. Those alliances entangled the US in regional wars, but they also preserved the peace with our most dangerous adversary, the USSR. But the collapse of communism revived the old popular skepticism about our major role on the world stage. Trump has exploited the popular suspicion, dating at least from WWI, that our allies play us for suckers. In this sense, he has tapped into an old feeling that the Atlantic barrier still protects us from any bogeymen roaming the continents of Europe or Asia. Future historians may describe the second half of the 20th century as a unique time when America saw itself as an integral part of the world community.
Neildsmith (Kansas City)
I suppose it is sad... this loss of a common bond to our so called European allies. On the other hand, this is a clarifying moment too. Perhaps this alliance wasn’t real after all. The US public and the Republican Party specifically have repudiated it just as they did back in 2003 as president bush prepared to invade Iraq. America is not the country you think it is. America IS this awful place where a man like trump can be elected president. And the fantasy of some common bond with a liberal Europe is now dead and buried forever. Don’t think it returns when trumps successor tries to make amends; it is gone forever.
SandraH. (California)
@Neildsmith, what a bleak vision! Obviously you're rewriting some history--the Atlantic alliance was very real, and the U.S. became for over 50 years its anchor. The U.S. public hasn't repudiated it, although Trump and his followers have. Why do you consider a common bond with Europe a fantasy? America rebuilt Europe through the Marshall Plan, and laid out the framework for postwar Germany's government. We share the common values of liberal democracy, Trump or no Trump. But you're right that it will be difficult to rebuild the trust we've lost. We're going to have to work long and hard at it.
Dart (Asia)
@Neildsmith I can't comprehend you. Watch What Happens Next. Its possible, several years from now or longer, when we repair relations we can tweak it so that we get a bit more in return...and that's all we deserve to get in a new equation. So yes, Whatch What Happens Next.
wnhoke (Manhattan Beach, CA)
@Neildsmith We need to ask how a man like Trump could get elected. Answer: we have disarmed our political parties so that they no longer control their own candidates. How? Presidential primaries that allow a celebrity to corral the crazy vote. Jesse Ventura became governor of Minnesota the same way. The Republican Party did not choose Trump, they were hijacked. The Democrats at least had enough super-delegates to stop Sanders.
Don Shipp. (Homestead Florida)
European nations were not surprised by Donald Trump's egregious withdrawal from the JCPOA. It not only undercuts America's future diplomatic credibility , it gives the hardliners in Iran a convenient scapegoat for the economic downturn that will surely result from the re-imposition of sanctions. European nations won't be able to economically compensate for the change in American policy. Many multi-national corporations have already cancelled major projects because of the reimposed sanctions. The moderates in Iran have been severely weakened by the withdrawal, allowing the hard liners to use " I told you so " about negotiations with the U.S. Any talk of regime change is nonsense. The IRGC and the thugs of the Basij will crush any opposition movement. The lack of basic competence and nuanced American foreign policy must be stunning to a Europe that has historically looked to the U.S. for security and leadership.
IN (New York)
Trump’s damage to world stability and security is particularly devastating at this precarious moment. His authoritarian inclinations, his disdain for multilateralism and our vital post war organizations like NATO, his extremely hard right positions on our nuclear agreements with Iran, the Paris climate control agreement, and our trade agreements with Asian allies have weakened American leadership and our relationships with long loyal allies. It has strengthened our adversaries particularly Putin and his agenda to divide European unity. His lack of knowledge, competence, and diplomatic skills and his woefully biased and inadequate diplomatic team threatens to cause long term and maybe permanent damage to the future of democracies and even their survival. His questionable and likely illegitimate election will historically be considered one of the worst events in America history and has changed the course of history in many horrific ways. To think his Presidency has inflicted so many unnecessary and self inflicted wounds to our country and the world. It almost proves why Russia meddled in our election. They knew in their cynicism that Trump’s election would pose the greatest national security risk to American interests and they have proven right almost all the time. Who would think that an American President would do so much damage to democratic principles at home and abroad? But in the campaign all the signs were there in his conduct, and in his strange love for Putin.
Marvin Raps (New York)
America's role a beacon of hope for the world was on the down turn for years. It took a major hit with G.W. Bush's disastrous invasion of Iraq. The Great Recession of 2008 and Republican obstructionism diluted President Obama's best efforts. And then came the ill-prepared, ill-informed and ill-tempered Trump with his anything-Obama-did-I-can-undo obsession. Gone went the Paris Accord and Iran Agreement, replaced by Trump' gloating about America's wealth and military power. He prefers nationalism to globalism. In two years he convinced the world that they had better find another leader and the USA better grow accustomed to its diminished role.
VK (São Paulo)
@Marvin Raps And even when it was, it was only for a tiny part of the world: Latin America and Africa have always suffered at the hands of the USA, SE Asia is kinda indifferent and China and India (30% of the world's population) are anti-USA and indifferent respectively. Only the First World and some random Iron Curtain countries saw the USA as some kind of "beacon of hope" -- and, of course, the local elites of those exploited countries.
Barb (London, Ontario)
@Marvin Raps Aided and abetted by Mitch McConnell who must surely be the most undemocratic and dangerous thug/mouse to have "served" in that position in decades, if not ever. He seems not to care about upholding the constitution or fulfilling his role of governing in the best interest of the American people. Rather, he seems to care only about holding on to power (the base); he seems willing to sacrifice anything and pay any price to achieve it.
joyce (santa fe)
Human beings have always solved seemingly impossible problems by wars. They are good at clans and poor at cooperating beyond family and friends and clan. This is a time for authoritarian leaders. They are popping up in respond to a shrinking world and a shrinking availability of viable land and resources due to desertification related to overuse of land and climate change. People are afraid and they think they will need to hoard resources and protect them from raiders. They think a strongman attitude will protect them from other strongman, or at least help hold ones own in an uncertain world. People fear what climate change will bring and they see a chaotic world coming faster than they before thought, and a no holds barred strong government seems the thing. They don't seem to care that under this government the rich get richer and everyone else gets used. The young alive now have never experienced a world war and they are naive about the horrors of war and the devastation of war. A modern world war would probably make a quick end to life on this planet. Human beings better get good quickly at thoughtful cooperation, as it is the only sane way forward.
Steve Fankuchen (Oakland, CA)
I would just note that the major opposition to the Viet Nam War was in the streets, not engaged in hoping for electoral saviors. If the current situation is really as bad as Readers Picks think, then I suggest they get off the internet and hit the bricks.
Daniel Gelperin (Hamden, CT)
The splintering of mutually beneficial trade and security arrangements and the rise of authoritarianism is how world wars come about.
Kenan Porobic (Charlotte, NC)
It’s the most shocking fact that we have been losing the public relationship battle with the Al Qaeda and the ISIS for a couple of decades. They couldn’t have been competitive in any other area – technologically, organizationally, financially, militarily, informatically or scientifically. They are still fighting just because we weren’t able to decisively win the ideological confrontation. That’s exactly the kind of assistance and expertise I have offered to the White House a couple of months after the 9/11/2001, but they have never called back… It means they are delightful with the progress they have been making in the meantime and see no need to change the strategy…
mancuroc (rochester)
trump's confirmed his authoritarianism during his "Rambling Rose Garden" address (to quote Brian Williams) in one of his many digressions from pitching his "emergency". His inner Duterte showed up in his admiration for China's death penalty for drug dealers.
J. Parula (Florida)
Good article. The problem is not just Trump, but the Republican party (Pence, Bolton, Pompeo, etc.). The Republican party has been absorbed by Trumpism. With McCain gone, there are no voices in the Republican party that oppose this overt irrationalism in foreign relations. Europe is going through very difficult times, and it is hard to predict how it is going to come out from this situation. However, Europe despite of its difficulties remains a voice of reason in these troubled times.
Thomas Zaslavsky (Binghamton, N.Y.)
@J. Parula No, the Republican party birthed Trumpism and is closely allied with it, near the point of merger (that's not quite settled yet). There was never a big difference; the lies, bullying, authoritarian treatment of opposition, all precede Trump.
wnhoke (Manhattan Beach, CA)
@Thomas Zaslavsky I disagree. The Republican Party was hijacked by Trump. Look at the 17 Republican candidates in 2016. The 16 who were not Trump are the Republican Party.
erwan (berkeley)
In other words, whether here or there, we are toast. Sobering thoughts. There is now this sense that the march of History is on, soon to let the dams break open to terrible results once again, this time promoted in no small part by the U.S. Think about that for a while and go vote!
Miss Ley (New York)
The cruel irony of hindsight raises its trenchant head, and yet America is not a lost cause, but a time and challenge to ask oneself if one believes in one's country. We are not a nation of weeping willows or builders of castles on ill-founded soil, but in possession of a leader desperately holding on to his last vestiges of power and glory. It is an experience, one that we could have done without, and our Allies to think twice before turning their back on us. Whether it is Britain where a political collapse seems eminent, or France in the midst of governmental turmoil, it is in America, where we remember our older and measured forefathers, and take up the gauntlet to revive and fight as a Republic and Democracy in peril, while barbarians are breathing at the gates. It was the former chancellor of Germany looking into the eyes of our last president, 'I am alone now', a lingering note in the air; but never should we discredit, or disparage, or divide our European-American alliance. While some of us may feel the need to pity or condemn our compromised leader, let us remember our country, the United States of America, where so many patriots from nations across the borders fought hard to make it a land of freedom, and new beginnings with blood, sweat and tears. The good, The bad and the ugly are here during this seasonal passage in history, but look to the skies and believe in the Lone Eagle soaring higher in these dark times of adversity and fire. AMERICA.
Linda (Oklahoma)
Who profits as Trump gleefully helps breakup the European Union, the countries that worked together to fight the influence of Russia? Trump's buddy, Putin.
DVargas (Brooklyn)
This vividly illustrates what happens when the US ceases to be a moral beacon to the free world.
Concerned Citizen (Anywheresville, USA)
@DVargas: GW Bush (43) for 8 years was a moral beacon to the world?
stephen (nj)
If Trump is the problem , railing against him and working to replace him makes sense and offers hope. If he is the symptom, which the European political landscape as described suggests, then a much different response is needed .
Old Farmer (Ogden, Utah)
One commenter asks, "Where is our Lincoln?". That's what I worry about with the current crop of Democratic presidential candidates. I know foreign policy doesn't win elections. But, aren't voters going to be motivated by our current dismal, one might say laughing stock stature in much of the developed world? I hope to hear what candidates are going to do to repair our alliances and restore frayed friendships throughout the world.
ChristineMcM (Massachusetts)
"Trump favors such fragmentation because he believes it will leave weaker European powers more susceptible to his winner-takes-all bullying." Trump takes great glee in blowing up the old world order not that he knows what, or how important, it was--because he can't see beyond the end if his nose. I couldn't bear to watch his "Rose Garden" signing, and am glad I missed his meandering and often senseless meandering. Tonight I just feel sad. In one fell swoop, this cynical man who spends hours glued to FOX News has made a mockery of all that my Dad and other members of the greatest generation fought and died for in WWII. I hate to think these brave men and women sacrificed so much to save the world from fascism only to watch a man who evaded the draft toss a hand grenade into their victory. In a little more than two years, he's managed to destroy America's image, ripped up treaties, erased our integrity, and spurned longstanding allies who fought with us following 9/11. Given all this, I honestly feel Donald Trump hates America. MAGA??? Hardly.
faivel1 (NY)
@ChristineMcM I just hope that we're not at the point of no return, considering Putin's loyal serf and his homegrown apprentice...i wonder how long we can sustain this dark limbo and find our way back, if ever to some semblance of clarity...can we survive in the eye of a perfect storm enveloping each and every continent or history inadvertently will repeat itself.
Carol (NJ)
Christine. How can you make this speech teach his cult. It makes easy the complex.
annied3 (baltimore)
@ChristineMcM He's "Making America GRATE Again!"
Barry of Nambucca (Australia)
Most other advanced democracies do not support President Trump. The international nuclear deal with Iran continues without the US. Even the US has to grudgingly admit Iran is complying with the nuclear deal. European nations are tiring of Trump trying to impose his foreign policy into their foreign policy. When Israel and Saudi Arabia are your main anti Iran allies, maybe it is time for the US to rethink their Iran policies. There is an inverse relationship between national intelligence and support for Trump, that is why most major European nations steer clear of endorsing Trump or his policies.
Andreas (South Africa)
The idea that anyone who does not comply to American law (outside of America) is breaking it is dangerous. The rest of the world should listen carefully to such wording and its implications.
Kenan Porobic (Charlotte, NC)
In principle, the wall on the southern border cannot hurt us. We can demolish it several years later at the minimal cost if proven useless. The total loss would be worth of a single month of waging the war in Iraq or Afghanistan. The only way in which the wall can permanently damage America is if we destroyed our national unity and lost the respect for our fellow citizens over it. But, in that case the damage wouldn’t be imposed by the wall but by us!
Brian (Bethesda)
During WW2, FDR had temporary office buildings built on the National Mall, poorly built so no one would ever leave them up. These eyesores survived until the 1960s. What goes up sometimes doesn't come down for a very long time.
Kenan Porobic (Charlotte, NC)
@Brian What about the Eifell Tower? The Parisians absolutely despised it and the construction was allowed only of duration of the world fair! Who would say that it would become the most recognizable landmark of the French capital! Never bet on the quality of the popular long-term perceptions!
Julie Carter (Maine)
@Kenan Porobic Convince the land owners whose ranches and homes would be taken and destroyed by building the wall away from the marshes and flood plains of the Rio Grande. Or the or the people who run the bird and butterfly conservation areas. Or Big Bend National Park. It may not hurt you up in Charlotte, but it would hurt the people of certain areas of Texas.
Andy (Salt Lake City, Utah)
Trump has been in the authoritarian camp. He's just not a very good authoritarian. Actually, he's terrible at leadership in general. I believe that's because his unilateral approach to politics doesn't stop at the border. He applies unilateralism to everything. I don't believe this is a political strategy so much as a character defect. He's incapable of conceptualizing multifaceted relationships in complex ways. His mental incapacity borders on developmental disability. Just look at his tweets. That said, not all is lost. I don't think Trump's "national emergency" is going to survive scrutiny. The only question is whether Americans have a chance to vote him out of office before the issue is resolved in court. If Republicans were smart, they'd resolve the matter in Congress and preempt the inevitable embarrassment. No matter what, the Republican Congress is not coming out of this looking good. They might as well cut bait now and try to change the subject before elections. If you're opposed to Trump, you almost cheer this latest attempt at autocracy. Trump is ordering the military to march through Washington again. He's one step closer to getting voted out in 2020 as a result. Assuming of course he survives his first term at all.
Paul A Myers (Corona del Mar CA)
Secretary of State Pompeo is on a mission with his Warsaw conference. He is delivering America's geopolitical interests in the northern Middle East and Eastern Europe to his boss's patron in Moscow, Vladimir Putin. The only one benefiting from Mr Trump's erratic policies in the Middle East and Europe is Mr Putin. Is the US Senate ever going to speak up for core American interests?
Patrick (Ithaca, NY)
@Paul A Myers "Is the US Senate ever going to speak up for core American interests?" I think we need to see the Senate for what it is: a bought and paid for, well on the way to becoming a rubber-stamp assembly for the oligarchs and the plutocrats. Take Senator Collins, for example. She can speak to "core American interests," but then she votes as her party tells her to. The only chance at redemption is to vote out all the incumbents, from both parties until we get new people in there who have not yet been bought for their years of service. One or two terms in and out they go. Keep infusing with fresh people and fresh ideas and not career politicians who are the bane and unanticipated flaw that the Founders didn't count on.
J (Beckett)
@Patrick Term limits. But the inmates of the House and Senate have to vote for them. don't hold your breath.
Richard Kuntz (Evanston IL)
@Paul A Myers How us he serving Putin by pulling out of the INF and providing lethal arms aid to Ukraine, both of which Obama refused to do, and increasing our missle defenses and nuclear modernization, which Putin definitely opposes. What about the authortarian in Venezuela? How does Trump’s opposition to him support the thesis of this article?
Ludwig (New York)
"The truth is that the Trump Administration broke the Iran nuclear agreement, undermining America’s word," While I favored the Iran deal, may I point out that it was not America's word but Obama's. Obama never brought up the deal before Congress so how does it become America's word? But let us face it, lies are OK as long as they are anti-Trump.
R. Littlejohn (Texas)
@Ludwig Republicans had decided to break the Obama presidency on the night of the inauguration. And Trump is set to destroy every policy good or bad it does not matter what the consequences for the nation are. He breaks international agreements without regard to values and success. The whole administration is nuts.
Miss Ley (New York)
@Ludwig, Perhaps we have forgotten the courage and valor of an American and remember the Honorable John Kerry.
Ludwig (New York)
@R. Littlejohn I agree with your frustrations with the way the Republicans treated Obama. But the democrats and the NYT have treated Trump in a similar way. When Americans regard each other as enemies and diss each other, not much progress is going to be made. And I do appreciate the fact that Trump is pulling us out of Afghanistan after Obama promised to do just that and did not. Trump is a mix of good and bad but the NYT and its readers have never acknowledged this complexity.
Hari Prasad (Washington, D.C.)
Trump is not Erdogan or Putin or Orban, much as he would like to be. The "national emergency" is a confession of despair, an attempt to distract and turn attention from the stench of Trump's corruption and the investigations closing in. The hapless victims of Trump's manufactured hysteria and Fox News' lies are the children of asylum seekers in internment camps separated from their parents. So also the couples and families separated by Trump's ban on visitors from Islamic countries, upheld by a Supreme Court split on party lines and lacking judicial integrity. Yes, the decline of the EU and of the USA proceeds fast, but perhaps there is still hope for America to pull itself out of the hole of Trump's dystopia.
R. Littlejohn (Texas)
@Hari Prasad Trump is out to destroy the EU and Germany and the economy. He is out to sell military hardware, his diplomacy is holding the gun to the head of every nation, friend or foe. He is a dictator
Livonian (Los Angeles)
"They are contemplating the world without its postwar American anchor." It's about time. Nearly 75 years have passed since the end of WWII. If it takes a belligerent, silly, reckless, narcissistic American president to make them take their own security seriously once again, so be it. We can't have it both ways, folks. We can't bemoan America's endless global meddling and war making abroad, her role as Global Cop, and then complain about the loss of prestige and influence that goes along with dropping that role.
herne (china)
Exactly. Five nations in Europe - Germany, France, UK, Spain and Poland - have twice the population of Russia and at least 5 times the spending power. Even without the US and the 23 other nations which make up NATO they are well able to defend themselves. Time they did so and stopped whining about Trump.
Joan In California (California)
Sad, isn’t it? We have a Congress currently running scared. Happily, just one house in the cowering position this year. The man in the White House, a would be dictator, was outed as such by Bill Maher 2-3 years ago. If Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia still believe in evening prayers of any faith, I’m sure we all know what they’re praying for. No! Not that, but a reform or conversion by the Stars and Stripes nation. Well, Roger, many of us are praying for the same thing. Thank you for your work on our behalf.
Ronald B. Duke (Oakbrook Terrace, Il.)
So, what's the real bottom line? Europe has been free-riding on U.S. defense spending now for 75 years. We have effectively paid the tab for their welfare states by underwriting half or more of their defense costs the savings from which they have used to fund socialist welfare freebees of every kind. Mr. Trump has put them on notice that this can't continue, they're going to have to stand up for themselves and at least start to pay their own way--they don't like it. It's an open question, in fact a subtle threat, whether they'll 'man up' or cozy up with the Russians to avoid the fiscal realities of self-defense. Their real plan is to wait out the Trump administration in the hope the Dems will get back in and they can breath of sigh of relief and return to the old ways. Mr. Trump is strong, he's hated by parasites and weaklings on both sides of the Atlantic. Democrats here and socialists there have joined forces in common cause.
Eric Hendricks (Oregon)
@Ronald B. Duke Just to make sure I'm clear with your point here, you seem to believe that Americans have seen no benefit to our mutual security alliances with western Europe? Let's take a look at the business American companies do yearly with the freeloaders in the EU. A very quick check shows that US goods and services trade with the EU was nearly $1.1 trillion in 2016. Our top 2017 export to the EU was aerospace products and parts totaling $39.5 billion. That industry supports 2.4 million American workers. Yes, we have borne a big piece of the cost of NATO defense. But to say that we've not seen a benefit is utterly false. Just ask the CEO's, stockholders and employees of Boeing, Lockheed-Martin and Northrup-Grumman. Let's look at the issue this way. It's certainly easy to complain about the imbalance in the US and European defense budgets. On the other hand, It's much harder to guess what Europe would look like today if we had chosen not defend their freedom over the last 75 years. I would rather our nation have spent the money over the years...and continue to spend some today. The alternative might have been much more expensive-in money....and blood-theirs and ours.
Kenan Porobic (Charlotte, NC)
Here is another crazy idea. I wouldn’t focus at all on the Russian meddling into our democratic process. If several hundred thousand dollars spent by Kremlin could determine the outcome of our elections after two mainstream political parties wasted several billion dollars on the campaigns during the same period, then we have incredibly incompetent leaders here in America! Thus, I have really radical proposal. Let’s stop meddling into the internal affairs of the foreign countries and put our money where our mouths are! Why? Meddling into the domestic business of the foreign countries saddled us with the worst and costliest conflicts in our history – with the wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria! What do you think has really harmed the USA?
JTBence (Las Vegas, NV)
In 2005 and elderly French couple asked over dinner in a restaurant in Tours, how Americans could elect George W. Bush for a second term. They could understand making a mistake once, but twice was mystery to them. I tried to explain the vagaries of American elections to them, but I must admit I was not very convincing. At Christmas 2016, I was even less convincing when I was trying to explain to a Parisian taxi driver how Americans could elect, in his words, a liar and a rapist. Our foreign friends have not swallowed the KoolAid that Trump's base and minions have repeatedly consumed. They regard Trump and his minions as moronic bullies. What experienced, intelligent and moral foreign leader would want to follow them? Let's hope no American will have to justify how the American electorate could maintain them in power after the 2020 election.
J (Beckett)
@JTBence Trump and his supporters ARE moronic bullies. I speak some periodically and I can't understand them. They so strongly refuse to even consider that Putin has some hold over Mr. T, and they seem to revel in his destruction of institutions and norm as an end all it's own, with total disregard for the consequences. Worse, not really disregard as that would suggest they consider the consequences. They are just burning down our house with all of is in it, and enjoying the fire. they forget that there will be no place to live afterward. I practice this phrase- Ich habe nicht fur ihm gewahltet. I didn't vote for him. Fortunately, when I traveled last year to the Netherlands, the locals spoke Dutch to me strait away. i would reply- Ik spreek geen Nederlands- I don't speak dutch- and they would go to German- apparently the little bit of Dutch I speak, I speak with a German accent. All seemed surprised when I reveal I am American. When the lights come on again- soon enough I hope. We can clean up the mess. But how do we prevent The Base from electing another President of the Confederacy?
Mark Shyres (Laguna Beach, CA)
@JTBence France has no room to talk.
Peter (San Francisco)
The causes for the EU splintering festered long before the Trump Reality Show got on prime time. And why the shade on Poland and Warsaw as a conference venue? And most surprisingly, why no mention in this opinion piece on Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu's participation in this conference? Very odd indeed.
LT (Chicago)
"He [Pence] seemed as incensed by Europe’s malign behavior as by Iran’s — a curious case of the United States aiding Vladimir Putin’s divisive agenda in Europe." Not so curious at all. Rather obvious once the shock passes. If Trump and his administration of lackeys talk like they are Putin's pawn, act like they are Putin's pawn and obstruct justice like they are Putin's pawn, then Trump and his administration of lackeys are Putin's pawn. The only question really is to sort out which ones have actively conspired with Putin and which have been content to knowingly be used by Putin. It will help with the sentencing.
REBCO (FORT LAUDERDALE FL)
We need to know what Putin whispered in Trump's ears to inform his foreign policy decisions. Crimea belongs to Russia says Trump, we need to leave Syria right away without consulting with our top commander in the field it seems again Putin has advised Trump on this troop withdrawal and Putin praised Trump for doing so as Mattis resigned over it. Our intel chiefs issued an extensive report by thousands of intel staff yet Trump insulted them saying they were wrong and need to go back to school. Why did Putin tell him otherwise is Putin our true national security advisor ,it sure looks like Putin has some heavy dirt on Trump that would end his presidency and put him behind bars losing the family fortune that would be enough to get Trump to bomb Canada if that's what Putin wanted.
Ben Lieberman (Massachusetts)
We could instead have wooden puppets in place of Pence and Pompeo. They would be almost as informed and less damaging.
Kenan Porobic (Charlotte, NC)
Mr. Trump, if you really want to morally undermine the Tehran’s Ayatollahs, then lift the sanctions on Iran, stop bashing our European allies (do you remember the extremely bad reprimand France and Germany received from us for opposing the Iraq War?) and hire me. I will bring to the table the same strategy I offered to the Bush Administration regarding the war in Afghanistan. I promised them to defat the fundamentalist ideology a thousand times cheaper and ten times faster compared to the cost created by deploying the US troops. The budget I asked for? A mere $100 million just to publish the books and give them away for free, or for bying the time on the public TV stations across the Muslim world. I put this offer on the table a few months after we launched the invasion of Afganistan. It is now the longest war in the US history but nobody has ever called me back, including both the executive and legislative branch of our government. It seems that I am unfortunately the only person capable of uniting our government for a couple of decades, although just to stay on the wrong course!
doughboy (Wilkes-Barre, PA)
Europe’s concern over US leadership should have been apparent long before Trump’s recent behavior. Our failure to adhere to a rudimentary effort to contain carbon admissions is more problemlematical than that of Iran. Whether it is the melting of Greenland or glaciers in Switzerland or the evening newscast coverage of one natural catastrophe after another, failure to make a minimum effort to address climate change holds greater horrors than Iran, the largest and most populous nation on the Persian Gulf, exercising influence. Every time we encounter an opponent to our hegemony, we vilify the leaders as being out of control. A basic principle of a despot is to remain in power, not to pick a fight with the world’s only super power. The manufactured fear of a Shitte conspiracy stretching from the border of Afghanistan to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea has been made possible by our inept Mideast policies—the removal of Saddam, attempted removal of Asad, and declaring Hezbollah as an enemy. Fear mongering over Iran plays well with politicians, but climate change not so much. A world that sees the rise of oceans, desertification , massive migration of peoples, resources stretched and fought over is a far more dangerous one. Real leadership is not in spending more money on arms than the next six countries combined or going to war. It is the courage to confront imminent disaster with actions that require self-discipline and sacrifice.
Eva (CA)
Mr Cohen wrote: "Without meaning, no law, no treaty, is worth the paper it’s written on. This is the real danger confronting the West." - The real danger confronting the West is Trump and his spineless enablers, like McConnell, Pompeo, Ryan (luckily he is gone now), etc. Hopefully the Democrats will not muck up the 2020 elections and put him out to pasture. Liberal democracy may survive the utter destruction caused by one Trump term, but hardly two.
Mark Shyres (Laguna Beach, CA)
@Eva "Hopefully the Democrats will not muck up the 2020 elections.." ? Are you serious? The party is already a crowded clown car. Sad. I used to really like them. Now they hate themselves.
FunkyIrishman (member of the resistance)
The major difference between the strongman in the White House and those in Europe and the Middle East is that one is based on power to the extant of monetary gain, while all others are based on power to the extant of tribal and religious identity. The United States version wants to build fake walls while decrying fake news - that may challenge him in any way. Almost every international move he has done has been for the gain of Israel or Russia. Traditional trade policy and agreements have been destroyed while upsetting the global economy. There are certainly many money people behind the scenes that are gaining a lot of money because of it. For all other versions, walls are being erected, and people cast out and vilified for short term gains. Power is used for the sake of more power. (or even to hang on to their own lives) The divisions are centuries old and predictable. The symbiotic relationship between both East and West makes military conglomerates rich as it always does, so there is that where they have commonality. Same as it ever was.
how-right (redmond)
Things are bad. Roger Cohen's thoughtful piece illuminated how bad they have become. But IT IS NOT TOO LATE. A new president can restore faith in the democratic liberal idea. A new president can restore faith and conviction in a world of alliances among the great democracies. A new president can unite the world in dealing with climate change. Some patience is needed, but now, more than ever, it is crucial that we not give up. That we work to restore and enhance the world order conceived largely by FDR and HST that produced not only what has been called "the long peace" but also the greatest improvement in economic conditions ever to have happened in history. Keep the faith, do not be distracted, and vote your conscience!
Peasant Theory (Las Vegas)
@how-right Restore who's faith and conviction leading to unity? The American people's? Europeans shouldn't be counted on to embrace American ideals for what is gone. No, Americans should prepare for the rest of the world to treat the United States the way they were treated. Absent the arrogance
Ron Cohen (Waltham, MA)
Methinks the pundit doth protest too much. Yes, liberal democracies have hit a rough patch, but it's one of their own making. I blame the liberals for a lot of this. Self-aggrandizing and superior, they have given the middle finger to those they regard as inferior, the white working-class. I think and hope they've learned something from our present travails, that they are not alone on this planet, and that other people have needs too, needs important to them regardless of how they, the liberals, may feel about it. Interesting days ahead, better days. Don’t despair, dear readers.
Ryan (GA)
@Ron Cohen We ARE the white working class. Right-wingers, as always, are the elite, privileged, wealthy class. The corporate shills who believe that the rich should not have to pay taxes, even as they grow wealthier from the infrastructure and protection that our society provides. Conservatives don't believe in work. They believe in a free ride. They believe they're entitled to it because of the color of their skin and the language they learned growing up. Liberals, who are the vast, VAST majority of the American population, believe in working hard and paying your fair share. Conservatives need to learn that they are not alone on this planet, and that the majority of the human race has needs too. Regardless of how you and your country club snowflake buddies may feel about it.
Ron Cohen (Waltham, MA)
@Ryan Is it possible that a liberal, a lifelong liberal who grew up as a New Deal Democrat, and has remained true to those values his entire life, can with justice criticize his fellow liberals? Or, is that beyond your ability to comprehend? Of course it is, if you believe, as you apparently do, that liberals are perfect, and above any such criticism. Only a "country club" conservative could voice such opinions.
J Estevao (Newark)
The white working class have given themselves the middle finger by voting repeatedly against their own self interest. Historically they have bought into the Republican us vs them narrative all too eagerly while the corporatists made health care more and more expensive and came close to privatizing social security. If the working class people who live from paycheck to paycheck thought about our private healthcare system for a minute they would quickly realize that it's a fraud. It only lasts while you or your employer pays the premiums. You miss a payment and you pray that you qualify for Medicaid.
Harold Johnson (Palermo)
Someone wise once said that things get darker just before the dawn. I certainly hope so as things look fairly bleak now. I think the thing that makes me feel the bleakest is a description of America which no longer is "liberty's beacon". Trump is "in the authoritarian camp" for sure, but this does not mean that America has become authoritarian. Trump's time in office is very brief and it seems strange to imply that his administration is the end of America as liberty's beacon. It seems to me that this president is an aberration and that America will be America again, the America that stands for liberty, for generosity, for law, for multilateralism, for the Atlantic alliance, for liberal democracy, and on and on. You see, I still think America is liberty's beacon, I think it is in our DNA, and I do not think the Trump era will last. In addition to elected officials at all levels who still see America as liberty's beacon, there are many many Americans who still believe we are liberty's beacon and will be supporting the next president who most certainly will again reenforce liberal democracies. Let this Trump interval be a teaching moment to underscore one of the founder's admonitions...the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.
Mark Shyres (Laguna Beach, CA)
@Harold Johnson "Things always get darker before they go completely black." M L Shyres PS we are all doomed. Get used to it.
Steven (Marfa, TX)
This all feels very much like the histories of the periods preceding both WWI and WW2; loss of focus, leadership, vision, economic decline, extensive political and business corruption, pervasive crime at the top but no-one cares or really does anything about. Even the period prior to Cromwell’s revolution in England. I think we’re close to humanity’s biggest, and last, large scale convulsive military apocalypse. People saw it coming in all the previously mentioned instances; and felt similarly helpless to stop the oncoming train of destruction.
Mark Shyres (Laguna Beach, CA)
@Steven We'll know we are like Cromwell's revolution when celebrating Christmas is banned here as it was by Cromwell (people were having too good a time of it).
RMurphy (Bozeman)
Braggadocio. That's awesome, and I will be using that.
Dave (Colorado)
I agree with parts of this essay, but it has one glaring flaw, which is the idea that engagement is the surest path to changing a regime and avoiding conflict. Specifically that "The Islamic Republic is too big and too influential to shut out. It’s not going anywhere. To say this is not to advocate appeasement. Iran, 40 years after its revolution, is beset by internal contradictions and is predatory abroad. It is to recognize that, as with Europe’s successful Ostpolitik during the Cold War, engagement with a rival power may be the best way to change that power and defuse confrontation." Bill Clinton thought the same when he let China in the WTO, we have been engaging with the Saudis for the better part of a century and they are still among the most odious regimes on the planet. On the other hand, the US brought Japan, Germany and Russia to the brink of collapse before engaging and they have become either staunch allies or, in the case of Russia, an irritant rather than an existential threat. I can buy the argument that engaging with Iran is a necessary evil to avoid their nuclearization. I bought the same argument when Trump made it about North Korea. I will not buy that it will ever lead either of them to be a responsible global citizen.
Democracy / Plutocracy (USA)
I am largely in agreement with the ideas expressed in the article. I simply hope that Europe will be able to stick together and step up into the vacuum created by Trump, Putin, and their Republican enablers.
Liz (Chicago)
Trump's world only has winners and losers. He can't grasp how an alliance can be beneficial, let alone deal with the complexity of how nations can be both competitors and allies (EU) or allies with behavior problems (Israel, Turkey, ...). We should have never made someone so limited US President. Let's hope this will not happen again in a long time.
Mark (St/ Paul)
Trump like the other authoritarians has broad public support because the rise of the global economy has slowly destroyed the middle class and hurt working people everywhere. Its was inevitable that someone like Trump would tap into their anger much like Hitler did after the Versailles treaty that rendered the German economy useless. That rage led to the deaths of millions. Trump and his fellow strongmen are no Hitler or Mussolini. But they like the fascists have profited off the growing number of disenfranchised citizens struggling to adapt to a lower standard of living. The immigrant like Jewish people in the 1930's are being scapegoated for political gain. Ultimately world capitalism has failed to share its wealth and gains and now finds itself in crisis. Marx viewed this contradiction more than a century and a half ago, His critique explains whats now happening better than any other.
Mike Livingston (Cheltenham PA)
I wonder. Iran is putting forces on the Israeli border, and essentially admits it has misled the West about its weapons. And the problem is the US? I think Roger Cohen is losing perspective.
Linda Miilu (Chico, CA)
@Mike Livingston If I had the Saudis and Israel on my borders, I might not want to be unarmed. The Saudis are meddling wherever they can to spread their 7th C Wahabism. Israel now has Netanyahu and a powerful Likud influence. When was the last time Iran attacked its neighbors? When was the last time we interfered in Iran? Didn't our CIA and BP Oil convince Eisenhower to take down Mossadegh, a popular elected leader? He wanted to nationalize Iran's oil resources. Didn't Cheney have Iraq's oil fields mapped out? Was Iraq part of 9/11? No. The Saudis were. We are the bull in the ME china shop.
William Perry (Blanding Ut.)
My wife made a bet with me that we would be in a war by next fall. We considered North Korea, then realized several million close allies would be killed if we attached North Korea. So it looks like the Iran war option is where we will be at war. This helps Putin with his goals in destabilizing Europe and annexing new territory while we are busy killing Iranians and unfortunately some of our own young soldiers. The real reason to go to war is for Mr. Trump to pay Putin back for his previous election help and for trump to be re-elected, shouldn't change presidents when at war some people say!
Leigh (Qc)
Trump, circus clown extraordinaire, has had everyone fixated on his wall for months. Meanwhile, as Mr Cohen laments, America can count the friends she has left around the world with the fingers of one hand and the Ayatollahs come off as straight dealers compared to the likes of Pompeo.
Cliff (North Carolina)
Scary times with a Congress that is all in with the crazy foreign policy driven by our "friend" Israel and its own strongman, Netanyahu. Saw today that AIPAC raises $100 million per year to spend on its ownership of the US government. And yet, a freshman Congresswoman is all but ex-communicated for suggesting that we follow the benjamins to AIPAC. Until we get out of that world and allow robust debate by all players in the mideast, absurd US Mideast foreign policy will continue to be the downfall of America.
Ellen (San Diego)
@Cliff Robust debate by all players about our US Mideast foreign policy seems to be off the table in Congress. And the Military Industrial Complex, not just AIPAC, has a lot to do with it. Our government fiddles while Rome burns. seemingly having rolled over for campaign contributions.
Chaim Shalom (Milwaukee Wi)
The inflationary crisis of the first world in the 1970's was "solved" by the globalization regime of cheap labor. This was as true in the third world (China, India, Mexico etc.) as it was in the second world (Eastern Europe). Now we have the crisis of global capitalism back again in the first world (Michigan, Ohio, France, Italian banks, Catalonia etc.). The glaring truth is that the "international order" established in the aftermath of WWII was accomplished by a complete monopoly of US economic power. Over the course of twenty-five years that monopoly power waned. The "guns and butter" of that period brought us stagflation and the necessity of cheap labor which over the course of many decades de-industrialized both the US and Western Europe. Now the class chickens have come home to roost! NATO, the EU, the neo-liberal IMF and the uni-polar aftermath of the Cold War (the unwise expansion of NATO toward Russian borders and the American corporate move to China -- are now being challenged politically by both working class citizens throughout the West and also by an ever increasing Russia-China-Iran alliance. Even NATO member Turkey is about to buy Russian S-400's. Yes, the international order is broken, and the culprit is global monopoly-corporate capitalism. Now we are on the cusp of a huge, new international nuclear arms race, a global debt crisis, and an ecological conundrum of mega-atmospheric proportions. What comes next? HOW ABOUT PEACE! -- the final international order!!
Ellen (San Diego)
@Chaim Shalom You write, in caps for emphais, HOW ABOUT PEACE! From a song back when we last talked about peace, the Vietnam War years - "Imagine". Imagine what America could do for its citizens if the military budget was cut in half.
Susan Fitzwater (Ambler, PA)
Years ago, I read about some Roman writer. In the waning days of the Empire. Gosh, he was clueless. A later scholar raised the question: did this guy have eyes? Or ears? Did he not perceive that the barbarian chieftain here--or there--or anywhere--had far more soldiers (and better soldiers) than the disintegrating legions? Could he not see what was happening? Everywhere. All around him. No. Apparently not. The Roman Empire had lasted so long, it seemed inconceivable it would ever perish. Or fall apart. Or cease to exist. But it did. Long ago. Your column, Mr. Cohen, fills me with horror. But surprise? No. We've had two years of this guy. Two years during which--beginning with Day One--our relationship with our European allies began to fray. Our good name became tarnished. Our word became valueless. Do Americans not perceive this? Are we all blind together? Does it not MATTER? What was his name--Hermann Rauschning was it? who (back in 1939) published his book, "The Revolution of Nihilism: Warning to the West." Herr Rauschning had had personal contact with Hitler--and was horrified by what he saw. The message was: this guy is trouble. BIG trouble. Prepare yourselves! Did they? Well sir--we fought a long bloody war before Hitler was finally gotten rid of. The consequences of that war--and the ensuing peace--are with us to this day. And YOU, Mr. Cohen? Anyone listening to YOU? Anyone at all? I hope so.
Thomas Zaslavsky (Binghamton, N.Y.)
@Susan Fitzwater In L. Sprague deCamp's clever and entertaining novel of the aftermath of the end of the Western Roman Empire, one character is a Latin scholar who still doesn't realize Roman civilization is collapsing. I'm finding him more credible every day of the Trump-Republican barbarian takeover.
Thomas Zaslavsky (Binghamton, N.Y.)
@Thomas Zaslavsky Name of the novel: "Lest Darkness Fall".
Tom Callaghan (Connecticut)
@Susan Fitzwater "Are we all blind together? Does it not MATTER?" You've nailed it. There is a strange passivity amongst "polite" people when it comes to our policy towards Iran and Israel and the relations of those two countries to each other. A symptom of that passivity is that the most powerful and influential private citizen in Israel and the USA, on the Israel-Iran issue, is not mentioned by Roger or any commenter to this article. Nobody serves in a significant foreign policy position in our government, with responsibility for the Mideast, who is objectionable to him. He has called, in public, for dropping a nuclear weapon in the desert of Iran as a warning to do as we say or the next one would be dropped in Teheran. Even though he was Trump's largest individual campaign contributor and gave five times more to Trump's Inaugural Committee than the next largest contributor, he can't get his name in the paper. As Church Lady, of Saturday Night Live would say..."isn't that special?"
David (Vermont)
“You can’t achieve peace and stability in the Middle East without confronting Iran.” More correctly, “You can’t achieve peace and stability in the Middle East without confronting Israel.”
Observer (San Juan Islands)
@David More correctly, "You cant achieve piece and stability in the Middle East without confronting the United States."
Joe Lucca (Cincinnati)
Has Putin won too "bigly"? If left with no alternative, Germany will have to revise its constitution and begin rearmament in an alliance with France. If so, Vlad will need to update his wardrobe to include some brown trousers (in order to hide the stains).
Moses (Eastern WA)
VP Pence did not seek reelection in Indiana because he was a failed and unpopular governor and now he believes he can lecture Germany, France, and Great Britain on the virtues of a failed and failing US policy in the Middle East. The most important job of the Democratic Party is to restore full voting rights to all and for heavens sake, get out the vote like never before. They and anti-Trump Americans should not pretend that impeachment or Robert Mueller is going to save this country from these incompetents.
Thomas Zaslavsky (Binghamton, N.Y.)
@Moses Worse than incompetents, they are destroyers and not all incompetent. Not that destroyers need much competence.
JD (Santa Fe)
Can't wait to look in the rear view mirror in two years to realize the Trump Administration was a historical aberration, and one which will be laid to eternal rest by a progressive president who will rejoin the TPP to recover American leadership in the Pacific Rim, rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb, reinforce NATO and our allies, and re-sign the Paris climate agreement, and, by executive actions, reverse all the lethal executive actions Trump has made since taking office regarding vehicle emissions, EPA deregulation, the selling off of public lands. And in that rear view mirror will be a clear vision of how a minority of Americans lost its mind and soul and exposed the chinks in the armor of American Democracy. We will have much work to do in a new era of reconstruction.
Kaleberg (Port Angeles, WA)
@JD The Trump administration is not a historical aberration. It is the logical consequence of fundamental flaws in our Constitution allied with fundamental flaws in our national character.
Carol (NJ)
The country is fixed out. It’s not the law or constitution.
wnhoke (Manhattan Beach, CA)
@Kaleberg The Constitution does not require presidential primaries that enable a celebrity to win a party's nomination. But OK. Maybe celebrity worship is part of our DNA.
WmC (Lowertown, MN)
While Vladimir Putin is the primary beneficiary of Trump's treaty- and alliance-breaking practices, they--those practices, that is--have the full support of the Republican Party, which means Putin has it too.
Tom (Toronto)
Germany has tied all it's energy needs to Russia. They have shut down their nuclear reactors, and will phase out their coal plants. And solar in gloomy Germany will only take you so far. So the USA should put it's soldiers on the front line, with basically no functioning European allies, while the same European allies doing business with both Russia and Iran.
Liz (Chicago)
@Tom Trade between the EU and Russia keeps Putin honest. This is something very commonly misunderstood in America.
Thollian (BC)
Time for Europe to admit that they can no longer rely on the US. The EU needs a single unified military with a nuclear deterrent. They also need to clean house by kicking out countries that are not real democracies. See what Mr. Pompeo says about all that.
scythians (parthia)
"The old order has frayed to the point of dissolution. " This the true and lasting legacy of Obama resulting from his failed Syria policy.
Arthur (NY)
I have to agree with everything said here, and point out that unfortunately here in this paper just a click away is a man pretending that the neo-cons that gave us the Iraq War had something going for them after all and should be given a chance to rise from the dead No. You can't have it both ways. John Bolton is now in zombie mode. Go back to the grave Mr. Bolton or simply read this editorial and let it sink in. You can be for the transatlantic partnership or you can be a fool aiding and abetting the likes of Vladimir Putin — but you can't be both. The "both sides have something to say" era is over. There are people who want peace in the middle east who speak the truth about all the players and there are devious arms merchants or careerists looking to profit from chaos by building themselves up. 2020 is next year, as the election nears let's all shout down this nonsense about Iran is the enemy and move back toward sanity before it's too late. This paper as well needs to decide that it's worth having a few enemies in high places if you got them by promoting the truth and suppressing lies.The measure of the Republican's has been taken and now it's time to take them away.
Camestegal (USA)
Actually, I am beginning to wonder. To call Trump authoritarian, abnoxious as that word is rightly meant to be, is actually to credit him with something, some stance, a smidgeon of some backbone perhaps. Actually Trump is more like a jellyfish (no offense to you biologically true jellyfish). He reacts with his tweets (like the stingers of jellyfish) to much of the input from the world around him. It seems that he has very limited rational capacity. He hides in a bubble because he is afraid to engage with facts which might be disquieting, upset his biases, and for which he has no appetite. Rather Trump tends to frame inputs in emotional terms. When Hannity et al. prod him it is with Trump's emotions that they connect. And then out comes Trump's jellyfish-like stinger tweets. And this is the man who was elected president.
Mike (Peterborough, NH)
Let's hope that in two more years, our allies can count on us to be the reliable and dependable allies we had always been before trump.
Bernie (Philadelphia)
@Mike Our allies are never going to be able to count on us again. Trump has exposed the flaws in our system. Now the whole world knows the ugly truth. Even the most "trustworthy" Democratic President in the future will always have the stench of Trump hovering around, the suspicion that any agreement with the US can simply be torn up by one man. Because he has shown the world that when dealing with the US, no treaty or agreement is worth the paper it's written on.
Rolf (NJ)
@Bernie They have to trust us again. What other choice do they have?
MEM (Los Angeles)
Trump wants to win at all costs. Even when he doesn't understand the game or the stakes or what it means to win.
Middleman MD (New York, NY)
Without Angela Merkel's decisions (however humane or well-intentioned) regarding the refugee crisis in Syria, there would be no Brexit, no Trump, no Salvini, no AFD party, or the rise of any anti-immigration right wing parties in Austria, Denmark or Switzerland. It's undeniable that Putin would like the ability to negotiate independently with individual European countries, rather than dealing with sanctions from the EU as an entity of 500 million people, but Mr. Cohen does not make a convincing case here that Trump really cares whether the EU is broken up one way or another. Ultimately, for Trump, and for many EU citizens, the decisions that are being made are about immigration, and a reaction to the leader of one very large EU country to decide on immigration policy for everyone else.
jng (NY, NY)
Let's hope our European allies have a longer term vision than the last two years of the Trump presidency.
Eric Eitreim (Seattle)
@jng I'm constantly amazed at the restraint our allies have shown in dealing with us in the face of non-stop provocation from Washington.
Mark Thomason (Clawson, MI)
"on a hapless mission to shape Trump’s caprices into policy" It is far worse than that. This isn't just Trump. He is the front man for the forces that tried to sabotage the deal with Iran, and that always wanted war with Iran. That was a large faction inside our own government, and both parties. Obama struggled on all sides to get that deal, and dared not take it to Congress because they'd turn it down. Now Trump is in a position to do what the rest of the government wanted to do before he came along. It isn't just him. There'd be more hope if it was. The forces in play are far more than just the ramblings of him sitting in front of his TV all morning.
Frank J Haydn (Washington DC)
@Mark Thomason On the American side the Iran nuclear deal was the product of two personalities -- Wendy Sherman and John Kerry. The open source literature is replete with stories about how each mismanaged, bungled and fell vulnerable to Iranian advances as they tried, for their own selfish political and personal reasons (for Kerry, a "legacy") advanced an arrangement that was regarded as half baked by many inside the government -- because once it lapsed IRAN WOULD BE FREE TO DO AS IT PLEASED WITH ITS NUCLEAR INFRASTRUCTURE. The American people should thank Mr. Trump for calling a spade a spade and doing what many in the national security bureaucracy had longed hoped for.
Julie Carter (Maine)
@Frank J Haydn Without the agreement, Iran was already free to do as it pleased with it nuclear infrastructure. Hopefully if not attacked by Trump and his minions Iran and it educated populace may make further progress toward modernizing (unlike Saudi Arabia!) during the 10 years the agreement was to be in force.
Thomas Zaslavsky (Binghamton, N.Y.)
@Frank J Haydn Your vicious interpretation of a remarkable and successful agreement might be exposing your personality. Think about it.
Frank J Haydn (Washington DC)
I served as an intelligence officer with the State Department through successive administrations, starting with that of Jimmy Carter in 1976 and ending recently with that of the current administration. I can remember each time a new administration entered office how variously the Europeans, the Japanese, the Israelis, the Russians, the Chinese, the Indians, the Pakistanis, or one or another large power or region would wring its hands, worried that the world (as they knew it) was coming to an end. Thus it is with a sense of fatigue that I read columns such as that by Mr. Cohen which all predict the collapse of everything that we all ever knew that was good and helpful. Mr. Cohen, I promise that this too shall pass. In fact, I'd wager that the Iranians are far less worried than you.
Tom Wolpert (West Chester PA)
There is no intellectual content to thls op-ed, except that Roger Cohen doesn't like Donald Trump. If Cohen were even remotely serious about NATO, or international alliances, or the Middle East, he would not write such tripe. All such alliances have to be larger, longer-lasting and based on more fundamental values than the preferences or even whims of one particular administration. The arguments against the Iran nuclear agreement were strong, and were not simply presented by Donald Trump or any representative of his administration. As people are now noting, Iran is continuing its program of international destabilization, and hasn't moved one inch in any direction (for Iran, the agreement was camouflage from beginning to end) merely because of the end of the agreement it made with Obama and the liberal European leadership (which, like Macron, are all being openly dumped or quietly undone). There is nothing wrong with a reset of German-American relations. We're tired of NATO bills. Can you imagine what Henry Kissinger would say about the 'seriousness' of failing to grasp what Iran intends?
Julie Carter (Maine)
@Tom Wolpert We don't pay NATO bills. In fact, the only country that has called on NATO troops to defend their interests is the US in Iraq and Afghanistan. And those countries that have sent troops to help us out pay their own costs. Military bases we keep in Europe are our choice.
Mark Thomason (Clawson, MI)
I am glad to see Roger tie the Warsaw fiasco to the right wing dysfunction of our government. However, it was less about NATO and much more about pushing a war on Iran. That distinction does impact on NATO, because the EU wants no war with Iran. It wants the nuclear deal to be kept, not abrogated to start a war instead. The one hopeful sign is that the Warsaw gathering put on full display just how fantastical is the American/Israeli view of Iran and the Middle East. The rest of NATO cannot help but notice, and all the most important members of NATO must be appalled. That damages NATO. It causes them to pull back from the US, not just the US to pull back from them.
Frank J Haydn (Washington DC)
@Mark Thomason War on Iran? Who exactly do you think will be participating? Iran is a populous, educated nation. There is no need for a war. Economic pressure and visa restrictions for Iranians wishing to visit of of their one million relatives in the USA will, if calibrated correctly, tip the scales. Please stop raising the spectre of a non-existent "war."
stuart (glen arbor, mi)
@Frank J Haydn Tip the scales? You mean regime change right? And you a former State Department Intelligence agent. I'm beginning to see where the problem is. Say hi to your friends Bolton and Pompeo and the rest of the imperialist meddlers at State. And don't forget the neo-cons who cooked up the Iraq war. We really need a new stance viz a viz Iran and a nuclear armed Israel.
Adam (Philadelphia)
Trump was hired by voters tired of shoveling billions at Iran, tired of lopsided auto tariffs with Europe (them charging 4 times our tariffs for auto imports), and tired of bad environment agreements like the Paris Accord requiring..you guessed it..more billions to be shoveled by the USA around the world. Since Trump was elected, 400,000 manufacturing jobs have come back from the US. Our shovelfest has come to a partial end. And those impacted by the money train going back home to the railyard now claim to be grievously oppressed.
John Schwartz (Maryland)
@Adam So Trump was hired by people who were misled about the details of the Iran deal. Hired by people who wanted to pay higher taxes on the goods they buy. Hired by people who would rather lose their homes to floods and wildfires than work to solve a global crisis. Hired by a minority, that enjoys disproportionate voting power due to an outdated and anti-democratic electoral college. In 2020 Trump will be fired.
Gerry (St. Petersburg Florida)
@Adam Go ahead and toot a horn that Trump is doing a few things well. The destruction he is causing is 100 times greater.
RexNYC (Bronx, NY)
@Adam - Trump was handed a good and growing economy, and so far he has avoided damaging it - https://infogram.com/untitled-1hzj4ownww572pw
Tim Lynch (Philadelphia, PA)
Thank you, Mr. Cohen ,for ,again,spotlighting the destructive results of the "trump doctrine." While Americans,mostly, are collectively self-absorbed (what else is new) on our domestic affairs, the damage trump has perpetrated , and encouraged, in international affairs is much worse. Throughout time we've had presidents doing horribly idiotic acts but we've never had a completely horrible idiot as a president. Trump is the epitome of the ugly American.
Down62 (Iowa City, Iowa)
"The president is for muscular unilateralism in a Hobbesian world — except he hasn’t heard of Hobbes." Nice summary of this president's mind. The good news? People in leadership positions who are this ignorant may do short-term damage, but long-term they are at most a cautionary tale. The world is a global community, whether Trump and those he has suckered like it or not.
Steph (Phoenix)
Xenophobe? Has anyone in America not been subjected to large change that was never voted on? There are no xenophobes in America. The rules get changed every year and we never get to vote on our current invasion nor did we ok the bad trade deals. Looks like most Europeans agree based on Brexit, yellow vests and Spanish elections being called. How bout' them Greeks too? I guess we're all xenophobes coz we're not rich or work for the UN and EU.
cjw (Acton, MA)
Mike Pence castigating our European allies for adhering to their treaty obligations put me in mind of Dennis Healey's description of being attacked by Geoffrey Howe - "like being savaged by a dead sheep."
Susan (Paris)
@cjw Thanks for that mention of Healey’s famous put down of Howe. The idea of Mike Pence “lashing out” is ludicrous, except if, as we used to say in junior high school, it was “twenty lashes with (or from) a wet noodle.”
Bruce Rozenblit (Kansas City, MO)
You know Conan the Barbarian? That's Trump's world. When words no longer, when alliances are tossed aside at a moments notice, when advantage must be pursued at all times, and against friend and foe alike, there are no friends, There are no allies. There is only barbarism and the toughest, meanest barbarians run the show. This is how Trump proposes to make America first. He wants to step on everything unless he can extract some transactional gain from it. Then, when the gain has been achieved, he looks for another victim. That's is exactly the way vulture capitalists operate. These are Trump's fantasy admirers. Trump has taken US foreign policy back to the days of the barbaric kingdoms. Maybe he has been watching too much Moco Polo on Netflix and is trying to emulate the Khan. I hate to write this, really I do, but the other day, I saw a clip of Trump supporters at a rally harassing Jim Acosta. I swear I was watching the fans from the upper deck at a WWE event. They were crude, rude, and low class. They were embarrassing to watch. Now rural people are not all like this. But many Trump supporters certainly are. All Republicans are not white nationalists, but all white nationalists are Republicans. This is some kind of widespread barbarism that Trump has exploited and there is far too much of it to exploit. It's a global problem. It must therefore be a base level of human culture because it's everywhere and dictators have always used it to gain power.
Ricardo (Austin)
@Bruce Rozenblit, great post. Although, I disagree with the statement that not all current Republicans are white nationalists. Maybe one can say not al conservatives are Republicans, that's it.
Thomas Zaslavsky (Binghamton, N.Y.)
@Bruce Rozenblit Conan the Barbarian had a strict moral code and was intelligent. He was merely uneducated. Just the opposite of Prez Trump.
mancuroc (rochester)
@Bruce Rozenblit Your last paragraph expains something I've often thought about. I was not on this earth during the rise of Nazism but I remember the war, its aftermath and the determination of people never to go through it again. I never understood how a civilized people would allow Nazism, Fascism and other corrosive "isms" to get a foothold in the first place. Now I see the deranged trump and hear the hatred of his equally deranged supporters on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" phone-in program, and I understand.
manfred marcus (Bolivia)
Pompeo, a disgrace as Trump's poodle, is a traitor in what used to be friendly relations with the Europeans, it's Allies, and NATO, the workhorse to maintain a minimum of security to guarantee freedom. Trump-Pompeo are doing Putin's job to divide us so much easier. Could they be 'fifth columnists", sold to the highest bidder? What a dangerous play, this autocratic rule trumping U.S.' democratic values in favor of the despots of the world...and the thrashing of human rights. Pence, though smoother than his vulgar boss, is a sly liar himself, in support of this two-year old klepto-plutocracy. The only remedy is to oust these 'weasels' from undeserved power...to abuse.
John Graybeard (NYC)
It is time for the rest of the "western" world to see the facts and to decide that, for now, the United States is their enemy. And to act accordingly.
Frank J Haydn (Washington DC)
@John Graybeard By this absurd "logic" it would be in the US interest to preempt the rest of the "western" world and attack. Make sense?
Bill Evans (Los Angeles)
I am grateful for Mr Cohen's convincing critique. I am horrified by how smart these new strongmen are about propaganda, the opposition just keeps taking their bait and the propagandists crush them. Pompeo knows that his audience is not paying attention. I really do believe that Trump has studied the masters of showmen dictators, he's polished this act, he has their hearts and minds. Now what we need is a Lincoln. I am so discouraged by America!
Frank J Haydn (Washington DC)
@Bill Evans You are so discouraged by America? My friends who work in embassies overseas tell me that every day they have to deny hundreds of people visas to travel and work in the USA. I'm certain one of them would agree to switch places with you.
Thomas Zaslavsky (Binghamton, N.Y.)
@Frank J Haydn You epitomize the Trump supporter. Instead of taking Bill's words as grounds for thought and discussion, you insult him. It suggests you have no reply.
J (Beckett)
@Thomas Zaslavsky- as I'm sure you have realized, they are all like that. They lap up the conspiracy theories, and state, and restate complaints about Clinton and Obama. They are immune to reason. Yes we need a Lincoln, but in this moment, I would be very happy with a Ford, only this time sans pardon.
vineyridge (Mississippi)
When I read the headline, I was immediately taken back to Chamberlain's misguided belief that personal engagement with Adolf Hitler would control his military ambitions. I'm sure that is what the NYTimes headline writer wanted me to do. But this column doesn't address appeasement of predatory regimes; it adopts it by silence. Ostpolitik did nothing to control the Soviet Union. As a policy it was a failure; the Soviet Union imploded internally for many reasons, most of which were the economic consequences of both its system and its military spending. If the author recognizes that the Islamic Republic of Iran is a predatory state, he needs to look into the mirror and see if he has become Neville Chamberlain.
Imperato (NYC)
Europe gave the US the well deserved proverbial finger regarding Iran.
Ghost Dansing (New York)
Trump is a toxic president. His foreign policy is garbage, and it will take a generation to reverse the damage. Oh, and it is all very confluent with Putin's strategy against the West. Trump is his man in the White House.
Pat (Somewhere)
"...a curious case of the United States aiding Vladimir Putin’s divisive agenda in Europe." Not really that curious, is it?
Tom Sullivan (Encinitas, CA)
Near the end of John Le Carre's novel, "A Legacy of Spies," his iconic character, George Smiley, as the conscience of MI6, provides for a disillusioned former colleague a rationale for all the unsavory things done in prosecuting the Cold War: 'So was it all for England, then?' he resumed. 'There was a time, of course there was. But whose England? Which England? England all alone, a citizen of nowhere? I'm a European, Peter. If I had a mission---If I was ever aware of one beyond our business with the enemy, it was to Europe. If I was heartless, I was heartless for Europe. If I had an unattainable ideal, it was of leading Europe out of her darkness towards a new age of reason. I have it still.' Smiley is, of course, a fictional character, but Donald Trump is all-too real. He and others like him in what Roger Cohen characterizes as "the authoritarian camp" stand in opposition to "a new age of reason." To satisfy their base desires, they are all-too willing to drag Europe, and the larger world, back into "the darkness." As with previous exponents of darkness, they must be opposed.
DataDrivenFP (California)
@Tom Sullivan Yes, Trump and many other destructive, disruptive political entities and policies are authoritarian. But they're also supported by Russian money, Russian kompromat, and Russian meddling in the elections of ostensibly free nations. Trump's election, the curious and sudden support of Lindsay Graham, McConnell's spinelessness, other Senators supporting Russian goals and policies, Brexit, xenophobia in European elections- all lead back to Russian interference with democratic processes in Russia's enemies. Inexplicable actions and statements all make entirely too much sense when looked at through the lens of "Would a Russian agent act this way?"
Thomas Zaslavsky (Binghamton, N.Y.)
@DataDrivenFP You took your eye off the ball. Much more important is the support of nearly all of our billionaire class. Russian meddling is nothing compared to theirs, and theirs is mostly legal (because they've altered the law).
Latest
See also