Clemens Wergin writes: No one in Europe truly believed Americans would elect someone who seems so obviously unfit to lead the most powerful nation in the world. And yet, that is precisely what has happened, and now, across the Continent, people are trying to figure out what this will mean. Many fear that Donald J. Trump’s election might mean the end of the West as we know it.
To be fair, from Europe’s perspective, the West was already on shaky ground. Russia is barking at our borders. The war in Syria has unleashed a huge wave of migration that is challenging our identities and fueling a right-wing backlash. Britain has already voted to become the first country to leave the European Union, an institution that seems in danger of unraveling.
But Mr. Trump’s election poses a new systemic and strategic risk. For seven decades, a politically stable United States has been a beacon of democracy and a cornerstone of the liberal world order. When democracy was seriously threatened in Europe, the United States stepped in and stopped the tide of authoritarianism. But now the United States itself has elected a demagogue who seems to have authoritarian tendencies and whose proposals — if he follows through on them — will have huge and disastrous consequences from Lisbon to Kiev.
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany knows how grave the situation is. As she congratulated Mr. Trump on his victory on Wednesday, she also lectured him on the elements of liberal democracy that form the basis of the American-European relations. “Germany and America are bound by their values: democracy, freedom, the respect for the law and the dignity of human beings, independent of their origin, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political position,” Ms. Merkel said. “On the basis of these values I offer the future president of the United States, Donald Trump, close cooperation.” [Continue reading…]