Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
To say that the Trump’s victory in the U.S. elections was a shock for Europe, is not really saying anything. Until 9th November, the European politicians and media openly mocked the extravagant billionaire and never seriously considered the possibility of his victory.
It was especially difficult for newspaper editor’s on the night of November 9th – in Europe newspapers had to come out in the morning, when the U.S. was still counting votes. They couldn’t declare the results yet, but very few people doubted a Clinton victory. Here editors also came up with all the moves to make it clear to the readership how “visionary” journalists were who predicted the victory of the first female President.
For example, the biggest newspaper in the Netherlands De Telegraaf came out with a cover where a girl with the face of Clinton held in the hands the legs of a guy in a Superman costume with Trump’s head up-side down. An awkward moment that the editor will want to permanently erase from their memory. Imagine how amused the audience was on the morning of 9th November, looking at this cover on the stands, while already knowing the preliminary results of the elections.
German newspaper Hamburger Morgenpost released the day before a cover with the large headline: “Please, not that horror-clown!” At this moment, they even did not suspect that they are writing like this about tomorrow’s “the leader of the free world”, “defender of democracy on the planet” and the commander-in-chief of the United States.
On the morning of 10th November, the majority of European Newspapers, without coordination, came out with covers in black, mourning tones. The French Libération came out with a black cover, where out of the darkness appeared only the hand of Trump with his characteristic gesture. And the caption read: “American psycho”. Here they already knew that they are writing about the future “leader of the free world”.
Some newspapers even put profanity on the cover. “W. T. F.” was placed on the front page of the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph, which is far from being “yellow”. However, in order to avoid a scandal, the newspaper put down a link snippet, decoding this popular expression in their way: “Will Trump flourish?” Some more “yellow” newspapers weren’t ashamed to put on the cover the usual word starting with “F…”, without even trying to interpret it differently.
Some newspapers, again without coordination, placed on the front pages a weeping Statue of Liberty with the equally popular phrase “Oh my God!” and “God save America!”. In the trend there was also titles like “Trumpocalypse” and “Apocalypse now.”
Already with the hysterics of the European press it is possible to understand the shock experienced by the elites of the continent. But no less hysterical were some of the statements made by European politicians. It is the Ukrainian-Georgian politicians like Mikhail Saakashvili that can change on-the-go, instantly posting their portraits next to Trump and talking about how they were old friends (I’m sure he had a portrait near Clinton for a different outcome). The Western politicians still didn’t learn to quick change, they still believe that decency requires them not to depart from their yesterday’s words at least for a few days, or even weeks.
And they said recently about Trump a lot of crap and outright insults that with these statements it is possible to create a separate book. Many European newspapers began to feverishly collect these phrases and quotes, while politicians still did not erase their posts on Facebook and Twitter, as was done in a hurry by the Ukrainian Minister of internal Affairs Arsen Avakov, who deleted his post about the “dangerous outcast” Trump.
French Ambassador to the US Gerard Araud was also obliged to follow Avakov’s initiative, who immediately after receiving news of the victory of Trump wrote an apocalyptic tweet: “After Brexit and these elections, everything is possible. The world is falling apart before our eyes. My head is dizzy”. Just a couple of hours later he was obliged to put on his Twitter official greetings on behalf of the French President to the address of the winner of the American elections. The hysterical tweet about the “falling apart world” was hastily removed by Araud.
It is British politicians who especially tried to humiliate Trump before the election. The Sunday Telegraph newspaper counted 23 current Ministers of Britain, who one way or another expressed their negative attitude towards Trump during the course of this year — especially after he called for a ban on the entry of Muslims into the United States.
Transport Minister Chris Grayling declared that Trump’s views “have no place in modern society”. Education Minister Justine Greening described the statements by the billionaire as “extremely stupid”. The Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government Sajid Javid called supporters of Trump “certified mentally-ill people”. And the current Minister of Foreign Affairs Boris Johnson, still being the mayor of London, declared that Trump is “clearly out of his mind” and “unfit for the post of President of the United States”. No wonder the billionaire that was elected President defiantly received as the first foreign guest the leader of the opposition UK Independence Party Nigel Farage, who actively helped the Trump campaign.
But this did not prevent current British Ministers (including Johnson) from developing a plan to influence Trump in order to convince him to act more harshly toward Russia, and first and foremost, towards the issue of Syria. As was revealed by the Daily Telegraph, the foreign office is developing an action plan for the coming months, the main purpose of which is to convince Trump and his foreign policy team that it is impossible to agree with Russia and to leave Assad in power in Syria. One of Johnson’s subordinates, on the condition of anonymity, told the newspaper: “We clearly understand that Assad has no place in the future of Syria.”
You know what is the most ridiculous? Johnson and his team are foaming at the mouth to prove to Trump and his team the incorrectness of those thoughts, which the same Johnson ardently defended. But before he became a Minister. A year has barely passed since he wrote an article under the eloquent headline: “Let’s deal with the Devil: we should work with Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad in Syria.” A few months later, in March of this year, the same Johnson, who already waged a agitative campaign for Brexit, wrote an article with a no less sonorous title: “Bravo for Assad — he’s a vile tyrant, but he has saved Palmyra from ISIS”. The essence of both articles, as you understand, is the fact that Moscow, Damascus, and London in Syria has a common main enemy, and because of it, whether we like it or not, we need to fight this main enemy together. It is exactly this, word for word, that Donald Trump repeated during his campaign. And now Boris Johnson is trying to do everything in his power to dissuade Trump from following it up, especially the appeals that Johnson himself sounded, being outside the Cabinet of Ministers.
At the same time, British politicians are one of the few in Europe that found a positive for their country in Trump’s victory. It is no secret that Barack Obama took an active part in the referendum on Brexit and very firmly promised the British that they “will be the last in the queue” for the conclusion of the free trade agreement with the United States in the event of withdrawal from the European Union. Trump, on the contrary, constantly stressed during his campaign that he would maintain a “special relationship” with Britain, which, of course, they will be the first in the queue for the conclusion of any trade deals.
It is not surprising that the London politicians and journalists began to actively discuss the issue of concluding the agreement on a free trade zone in the format of U.S.-Canada-Britain immediately after the country’s withdrawal from the European Union. This talk seems to have greatly disturbed European officials, who began to actively warn London against the temptation to start trade talks with Trump over the head of the European Union.
The reaction of the bureaucrats of the European Union to the win the American billionaire is a special topic. They indeed tried their best to express their contemptuous attitude towards the candidate Trump repeatedly. In May, Martin Selmayr, head of the administration of the chief of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, called the appearance of Trump, Johnson (yes, the same Boris), the leader of the French right-wing Marine Le Pen, and leader of the Italian populist Beppe Grillo in the G7 as a “horror scenario”.
Now, Juncker himself stated he is going to “teach Trump how Europe works.” However, he expressed the assumption that this “teaching” will take up to two years. And this was said by the man who this year lost in Europe absolutely everything from Brexit to the Dutch referendum on the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. And at the same time, judging by his reaction, he could not predict the results or prepare for their consequences. I.e. Juncker and his European officials have no idea how Europe works, how it lives, what it breathes, but they intend to teach Trump!
In this regard, the Dutch eurosceptics on the website Geenstijl wrote: “more than 62 million people voted for Trump. And how many voted for Juncker? 0,000. Haha. And Juncker will explain to Trump how Europe works? But does Juncker himself actually knows how to spell the word”.
The hysteria that prevails in Europe is also evidenced by the panicky meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, who hastily gathered in Brussels. Again, the same Boris Johnson was in a hurry to deny it, calling it “collective whinge-o-rama”. And representatives of Westminster dubbed it a “panic-dinner”.
And Donald Trump has not had the time to do or say anything, not to mention being inaugurated. One can only imagine what will start in Europe after this.
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