Advertisement

For Trump, Brexit Is Just The Beginning

Donald Trump, days before the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union CREDIT: AP PHOTO/JOHN LOCHER
Donald Trump, days before the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union CREDIT: AP PHOTO/JOHN LOCHER

The British vote to leave the European Union has caused immediate turmoil in global financial markets and threatened the stability of both Great Britain itself and the alliance that has helped keep the peace in Europe for more than 70 years. Donald Trump’s reaction to this seismic event is that he wants more. Trump’s call for more instability on a continent that was constantly plagued by major wars before institutions like the European Union is reckless in the extreme.  After the horrors of two world wars in the span of 30 years, European leaders like Winston Churchill believed the way to end the cycle of horrific war that left millions dead and the continent in ruins was to integrate the major nations of Europe. In 1952, the European Coal and Steel Community was formed, and in 1957, the Treaty of Rome established the European Economic Community, or EEC. By the end of the Cold War, the EEC was a powerful galvanizing force that helped peacefully integrate the former Soviet bloc states into a democratic and prosperous Europe and what eventually became the European Union, known as the E.U.  The visionary American and European post-war leaders like Churchill and American Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower have been proved right. The system of multilateral security and political institutions, of which the E.U. is an integral part, have brought Europe an unprecedented era of peace, democracy, human rights, and prosperity. Donald Trump either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about this history.  Trump’s initial reaction to the vote was that it was a “great thing” because the havoc in the financial markets will allow him to make more money regardless of its impact on British, European, or Americans. Despite admitting just this week that he “hasn’t really focused on [Brexit] that much,” and that he didn’t “think anybody should listen to me [on Brexit],” he went on, however, to encourage other European countries to follow Britain’s lead and also leave the E.U. “There’s plenty of other places. [The U.K.] will not be the last.”

http://thinkprogress.org/world/2016/06/24/3792224/brexit-far-right-europe/  Unfortunately, some of Europe’s most reactionary and xenophobic leaders seem to agree with Trump. Geert Wilders, the far right Dutch politician, who is gaining in the polls ahead of national elections next year, urged a similar referendum in the Netherlands “as quickly as possible.” Marine Le Pen, of France’s far right National Front, also called for a French referendum. Le Pen is virtually assured of making in into the final round of the two-stage French presidential elections in 2017, a contest she is currently leading in the polls.  The E.U. was already facing serious challenges given the economic struggles on the continent following the global financial crisis and the strains of accommodating massive inward migration spurred by the war in Syria and instability in North Africa. These ongoing problems have caused tensions among the member states not previously experienced in the history of the E.U. Now the U.K., who along with Germany and France is one of the three largest economic and security powers in the alliance, is going to withdraw. The strength of Le Pen means that France may also choose the exit referendum route. A British and French withdrawal, combined with the existing stresses in the alliance, could begin a chain reaction in which it is easier to see how the European Union unravels rather than holds together.  Dissolution of the E.U. will deprive Europe of the key institution that allows these countries to address their common challenges collaboratively precisely at the time the continent needs it most. It is a testament to the success of E.U. that the British people were able to register their disagreement with other European nations at the ballot box and not on the battlefield. Without institutions like the E.U., it is possible that war could return as the way European countries resolve their differences.  There are a lot of reasons why the British people narrowly voted to leave the E.U. Far right racists and xenophobes in Europe are trying to capitalize on the result and are working to undo one of the key institutions that put the continent back together after the last time far right racists dominated Europe. Despite his admission that he didn’t know much about the issues involved in this referendum, Donald Trump thinks this is a “great thing.”

Advertisement