Asked in a CBS interview on Sunday who he considers Washington’s biggest foe globally, Trump quickly named the EU and its trade practices before proceeding to Russia and China.
“I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe,” Trump said during a visit to his golf course in Scotland.
“Russia is foe in certain respects. China is a foe economically, certainly they are a foe. But that doesn’t mean they are bad,” Trump added. “It doesn’t mean anything. It means that they are competitive. They want to do well and we want to do well.”
Trump has been antagonizing longtime US allies like Canada, the EU and the UK over the past months, criticizing them for adopting trade policies that he says are unfair to American businesses.
During the 2016 US presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly attacked America’s trade deficits, contending they were the result of incompetent US negotiators striking bad deals and abusive practices by US trading partners.
He vowed to bring down America’s massive deficits if elected and since taking office, he has tried in a number of ways to force China and other US trading partners to alter trade arrangements to boost US exports.
“You know I love those countries. I respect the leaders of those countries,” Trump said. “But, in a trade sense, they’ve really taken advantage of us, and many of those countries are in NATO and they weren’t paying their bills.”
The members of the NATO military alliance do not pay bills to the organization or to any one country. Instead, they are required to spend at least 2 percent of their budget on strengthening their militaries.
During a NATO summit in Brussels last week, Trump upended that agreement by saying that the countries should increase the goal to 4 percent. Not even the US currently meets that percentage.
In a rather strange statement, Trump said Sunday that it was difficult for him to take harsh measures against the EU since “both my parents” were born there. This is while Trump’s father, Frederick, was born in New York and only his mother was born in Scotland.
It was his paternal grandparents who were born in Germany.
Trump has stirred tensions in and out of the US in recent weeks for ratcheting up attacks on European allies while refusing to put much pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he is scheduled to meet in the Finnish capital of Helsinki on Monday.