Brexit and the Trump Victory

Trump and BrexitNigel Farage, former leader of the UK Independence Party, speaking Feb. 20 at Hillsdale College on “The Significance of Brexit and the Trump Victory”:  Brexit and Trump were not blips. They were not short-term revolts of angry people. They were fundamental changes of direction. When our great-grandchildren and their great-grandchildren look back at history, they will see 2016 as the year people took back control of their lives, their countries and their destinies.

There is a new tide flowing across the entire of the West. It is a tide that has engulfed the United Kingdom and America. It will engulf much of Europe and the rest of the West too. And I have to say to you, not only has nation-state democracy made a comeback, but a return to normalcy has made a comeback. And the idea that any of us, whether it’s me or Trump or anybody, has advocated extremism shows you how far these liberals had gone to control the agenda and change the debate.

It’s not been easy. It’s not been easy to fight against these people. But I am very, very optimistic now for the West and I am excited, I’m very, very excited, that our two great nations, possibly the two greatest nations on Earth, are now freed to be friends again.

Trump Isn’t the EU’s Problem-Some Europeans want to use the U.S. President as a political excuse.

Vice President Mike Pence spent the past few days trying to reassure Europeans about America’s commitment to NATO, but in some continental precincts that isn’t enough. Europe’s mandarins are sore that Mr. Pence didn’t embrace the European Union with similar enthusiasm, as if an American Administration is responsible for the EU’s fate.

Mr. Pence did mention the EU, noting at a joint press conference Monday with European Council President Donald Tusk that America’s “commitment to the European Union is steadfast and enduring.” The Veep added at NATO headquarters that “we understand the deep heritage of member states in the European Union with people in the United States of America.”

But that wasn’t sufficient for European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who lectured Monday that the EU is more important to the U.S. economy than “some in the U.S. do think.” He also said: “I do think the United States needs a strong, united European Union on all possible issues.” There was also grumbling that Mr. Pence had underscored his commitment to NATO but hadn’t uttered the words “European Union” at his dinner Sunday with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.

Come on, guys. When are you going to take yes for an answer? NATO is a mutual-defense pact to which the U.S. belongs, and the U.S. accounts for some two-thirds of alliance expenditures. After Donald Trump’s comments that NATO is “obsolete,” Europeans ought to be pleased that his first major emissaries have embraced the alliance.

We agree that Mr. Trump should support NATO in similar terms in his own words, but no one should think Mr. Pence or Defense Secretary Jim Mattis were freelancing. They speak for the new Administration.

As for the EU, the U.S. has never been a member. The EU is a European-only club, and some of its own members aren’t sure they want to belong anymore. Mr. Trump has made anti-EU statements, not least in supporting Brexit last year as a candidate. And it’s understandable that EU partisans resent his remarks that other countries will leave the bloc. This is the crude nationalist side of Mr. Trump.

But after only a month in office, Mr. Trump is hardly to blame for EU woes, and his views about the union won’t make much difference. Barack Obama did then British Prime Minister David Cameron a favor by going all-in for Britain to remain in the EU last year, and that didn’t matter to British voters.

The EU is in trouble because it has failed for at least a decade to deliver growth and jobs. It has failed to police Europe’s burning peripheries, allowing the Continent to be overrun by refugees. It has failed to deter terror attacks or promote greater social cohesion. Perhaps most troubling is that it has failed to hear the voices of popular protest against these failures. EU leaders tell their voters to shut up and heed their betters. No wonder Europe’s versions of Donald Trump are on the rise.

The U.S. has an interest in a Europe that is prosperous, democratic and free, but the question Americans and many Europeans are asking is whether the EU still serves those purposes. The U.S. should be skeptical of an EU whose leaders seem overjoyed about 1% growth and indifferent to mass youth unemployment.

And the U.S. has no reason to support leaders like Mr. Juncker, whose reaction to requests for more military burden-sharing was a churlish, “This has been the American message for many, many years. And I am very much against that we allow ourselves to be bullied on this.”

Mr. Trump can be a bully, but in this case he is merely saying that Americans won’t sacrifice to defend Europe if Europeans won’t sacrifice to defend themselves. Mr. Trump could do much good if sometime soon he gave a speech of his own underscoring the U.S. commitment to defending Europe and common Western values. But the European Union is going to have to save itself.

Source: Wall St. Journal Feb. 21, 2017 7:30 p.m. ET

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