On his EU visit, US President Donald Trump lectured Germany on doing business with Russia, demanded tribute from NATO and offered advice on British politics. Many Europeans were having none of it, venting their spleen on Twitter.
Trump flew into Belgium for the NATO summit on Wednesday, then jetted to the UK for a state visit on Thursday. He is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday.
Trump vs Germany
The US leader started off the NATO summit by accusing Germany of being a “captive to Russia,” arguing that Berlin’s position within the military alliance was compromised because of its reliance on energy from Moscow. This led some journalists to accuse Trump of projecting his insecurities onto a rival, while others pointed out this dispelled claims he was soft on Russia.
@mitchellreports @Yamiche in Brussels: President Trump blasted his way into NATO, and for someone who is being blasted at home for being controlled by Russia, he really projected that on Germany. #AMR
While Trump’s comments provoked fierce reaction online, Chancellor Angela Merkel was more restrained in her response. Online commentators were in no mood for civility, with some calling for Merkel to mete out some rough justice.
@TheSarcasmShow I'm pretty sure Angela Merkel could take Donald Trump in a fight
@MrFilmkritik I can’t be the only one who just wants to see Merkel lose it and deck Trump.
One German TV network reportedly responded by digitally replacing the US president with an image of a Trump-shaped blimp made by some British protesters.
He said, no one else said
If making culturally insensitive statements is a Trump trademark, so is declaring victory in disputes before being contradicted by the supposedly vanquished. The NATO summit produced a few such moments.
The former reality TV star has long berated NATO over military spending or lack thereof. Trump came to the summit looking to pick a fight with 24 alliance members failing to meet an agreed target of making their military budgets two percent of their GDP.
Trump later told the press he’d successfully pushed for a spending increase. French President Emmanuel Macron disagreed. Twitter weighed in to mediate.
In another seemingly off-the-cuff remark, Trump said he wanted NATO members to double their spending, to four percent of GDP. Some felt they could see the malign hand of shady defense contractors at play.
Trump does Britain
UK Prime Minister Theresa May must have choked on her tea when she read Trump’s interview with The Sun on Friday morning. In a bizarre exclusive, Trump was scathing about her Brexit plan and even backed rival Boris Johnson to succeed her at 10 Downing Street. Later in the day, he insisted that the story was “fake news.” Online commentators knew who they were going to believe.