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Overseas, Some React With Alarm to Trump’s ‘America First’ Pledge

Posted by hkarner - 22. Januar 2017

JAN. 21, 2017

HONG KONG — In the Philippines, nationalists rallied outside the United States Embassy in Manila, setting fire to an American flag with a picture of President Trump’s face. In China, state media highlighted the “violent” protests that accompanied his inauguration.

In Germany, the vice chancellor warned of a “drastic radicalization” in American politics and said Berlin stood ready to fill the void left by an isolationist Washington. And in Britain, Prime Minister Theresa May said she would tell a skeptical Mr. Trump how important NATO and the European Union are for European and world stability.

“With the threats we face, it’s not the time for less cooperation,” she told The Financial Times. Mrs. May is supposed to travel to Washington to meet Mr. Trump soon, perhaps as early as this week.

In countries around the world, small demonstrations and alarmed reactions greeted Mr. Trump’s ascent to power and his inaugural pledge: “From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first.” But some world leaders embraced the new reality, seeking to accommodate a galvanizing political force whose message has been echoed in mass movements across continents.

„In Germany, the vice chancellor warned of a “drastic radicalization” in American politics and said Berlin stood ready to fill the void left…

But in Berlin, where Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has been rattled by anti-immigrant discontent before upcoming elections, Sigmar Gabriel, the vice chancellor, said there were “highly nationalist tones” in Mr. Trump’s speech, which he said reflected a “drastic radicalization” of United States politics. ”You have to take the man seriously,” Mr. Gabriel said.

He said that if Mr. Trump made good on his pledges to rip up trade deals and disregard longstanding alliances, Germany stood ready to fill the void.

“Should the United States start a trade war with China and all of Asia, then we as Europeans and Germans are fair partners,” Mr. Gabriel said. “Europe and Germany need a strategy geared toward Asia and China — and we have new opportunities.”

President François Hollande of France, battling nationalist currents in his own country, did not wait for Mr. Trump to give his address before suggesting that France’s course would divert from Washington’s new direction.

“We are in an open world economy and it is not possible nor advisable to want to be isolated from the world economy,” he said. “We must not imagine France closed with respect to the rest of the world.”

But the far-right French politician Marine Le Pen, a serious candidate to succeed Mr. Hollande in elections this spring, declared that Mr. Trump’s victory had opened “a new era in the cooperation between nations.”

Ms. Le Pen will join other far-right leaders from the Netherlands, Germany and Italy in the German city of Koblenz on Saturday, just a day after Mr. Trump’s inauguration, at a conference to consult and celebrate what they consider a popular shift in their direction.

In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte, whose bloody antidrug campaign has been criticized by the United States and other Western nations, welcomed the new president and his apparent willingness to stop telling other leaders how to govern.

“The Philippines welcomes President Trump’s foreign policy direction,” a spokesman for Mr. Duterte, Ernesto Abella, said in a statement. Referring to Mr. Trump’s statement that Americans would not “seek to impose our way of life on anyone,” Mr. Abella said that his approach “promises a more placid and mutually beneficial relationship, especially with longstanding allies like us.”

There were the usual gestures of cooperation, mixed with hope that Mr. Trump’s angry and nationalistic words would not mean an American retreat from global responsibility.

“With great power comes great responsibility,” Lithuania’s president, Dalia Grybauskaite, wrote on Twitter. “Confident in global leadership of the USA! Congratulations @realDonaldTrump!”

Other observers were struck by the dark tones of Mr. Trump’s speech. In Japan, Goro Hashimoto, a special editor at the right-leaning Yomiuri Shimbun, the world’s largest-circulation newspaper, compared Mr. Trump’s speech to President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address — and not favorably.

“When I heard Kennedy’s speech when I was a child, I was so excited,” Mr. Hashimoto said. “He talked about American values as well as the benefits for the world. Trump didn’t talk in that way.”

Some European politicians were blunt. “Hostile inauguration speech,” the former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt wrote on Twitter. “We can’t sit around & hope for US support & cooperation. Europe must take its destiny & security in its own hands.”

 

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