The harsh reality: Donald Trump does mean Europe harm | Natalie Nougayrède

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Rex Tillerson’s sacking has brought the transatlantic relationship into sharp focus. We may yet think fondly of the days when the worst the US president did was tweet

The emerging crisis between the United States and Europe is multifaceted; its contours fast evolving; its outcome hard to predict. And if that were true on Monday, it is more so now, following the firing by Donald Trump of Rex Tillerson, his secretary of state, who had unequivocally expressed his horror about the nerve agent poisoning in the UK – and openly pledged the solidarity of his office with a European ally.

The American president, by contrast, long stayed silent, even after Theresa May announced that Russia was “highly likely” to be responsible for the attack. This merits sustained reflection. While several European governments were closing ranks with the UK, united in the face of an unprecedented assault involving the use of a military grade substance in a western country, the scenario many dreaded was becoming reality. Not only could Trump not care less about the serious concerns of a supposed ally or about Russian behaviour, he actually seemed content to punish a senior member of his team who had the temerity to show that he did care. If there was ever a more dramatic way of demonstrating Trump’s indifference to the other side of the pond – not to mention what Brexiters like to believe is an iron-clad special relationship – this sequence of sorry events was surely it.

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