President-elect Donald Trump gave interviews to London’s Sunday Times and Germany’s Bild newspapers and covered a broad range of policy and strategic initiatives. In speaking to Bild, he said that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is obsolete and also predicted that some members of the EU will follow the United Kingdom’s lead and leave the organization. A declared fan of the so-called “Brexit” referendum that began the process of the breakup. 
 
In exchange, Trump said he will offer a “fair” trade treaty between the US and the UK that should make Brexit a “great thing.” In addition, he has invited UK Prime Minister Theresa May of the Conservative Party to visit him in Washington “right after” he takes office to secure the trade treaty “very quickly.” 
 
In a Bloomberg analysis, Trump’s comments were said to "leave little doubt that he will stick to campaign positions and may in some cases upend decades of U.S. foreign policy, putting him fundamentally at odds with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on issues from free trade and refugees to security and the EU’s role in the world."
 

Treaty with Britain

Trump told the Times that he is predicting a further erosion of the European Union. He said that the UK had been harmed by the current migration crisis, saying “I think it’s very tough.” He told the Times, “People, countries want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity.” Trump told Bild that the UK will be successful in its transition out of the EU, portraying the EU as Germany’s means of dominating the rest of Europe while beating the United States in trade. Therefore, Trump said, he is not worried if the EU erodes or not, according to Bild. 
 

NAFTA, BMW

Alluding to campaign promises of imposing tariffs or fines on American carmakers who import vehicles from Mexico, Trump warned that his administration may exact a border tax of 35 percent on vehicles produced in Mexico by Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW). As it stands now, BMW is planning to start a new factory in central Mexico at San Luis Potosi where it would build the BMW 3 Series as of 2019. The cars would be exported to the world.  The president-elect called on BMW to build a plant in the United States, noting that already 70,000 people are employed by BMW in the U.S.
 
Trump averred that Mercedes-Benz produces fine automobiles, but that there is little reciprocity at the present time. While Americans are buying Mercedes-Benz, Germans are not buying Chevrolets at the same rate. While he claimed to favor free trade, he said it should not come at any cost. 
 

NATO obsolete

Trump said, after saying that he might place sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Crimea to push for nuclear-arms talks, that NATO is obsolete and “has problems.” “[NATO] is obsolete, first because it was designed many, many years ago,” Bild quoted Trump. He also said that NATO does not deal with terrorism and that NATO partners are not paying their fair share. He criticized former President George W. Bush’s decision to go to war with Iraq as the worst in American history.
 
 

Germany and Angela Merkel

Trump saved his most disparaging remarks for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, criticizing in the Bild interview her refugee policy as a “catastrophic mistake.” When asked whether he would like to see her reelected, he would not say. While saying he respects Merkel, he noted that she has hurt Germany by letting “all these illegals” into the country. Merkel stands for reelection this year.
 

To Russia with love

In the Times interview, Trump said that he could ease sanctions on Russia in return for a nuclear weapons deal. Trump told the Times: "For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it.” Trump said that he was prepared to walk away from the table in negotiations with either Merkel or Russian President Vladimir Putin. He said, “Well, I start off trusting both -  but let's see how long that lasts. It may not last long at all."
 

Border Security

With regard to border security for the U.S., Trump said that anyone entering the country will face “extreme” security checks. Some Europeans will also face scrutiny in the Trump administration, he said. 

Finally, in the Bild interview, Trump showed no sign of letting up on his use of social media, including Twitter, which has drawn so much criticism from Democrats.


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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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