In April, President Donald Trump asked French President Emanuel Macron "why don't you leave the EU?" The same month, he complained "the European Union, of course, was set up to take advantage of the United States, to attack our piggy bank."
Shortly before, he reportedly had told the Group of Seven leaders "NATO is as bad as NAFTA," implied to Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven that Sweden should leave NATO, and suggested regime change to the German people.
In an interview with a British tabloid, Trump praised Theresa May's rival Boris Johnson and criticized her handling of Brexit. A few days later, the Prime Minister revealed that Trump had recommended that she sue the European Union. He suggested regime change to the German people and a few weeks later charged that Germany is "totally controlled" and "held captive" by Russia.
That did not amuse Prime Minister Merkel, who grew up in East Germany and thus knows much more about being controlled by Russia than does Donald Trump (or maybe not).
Two days before he met Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Trump labeled the EU as a trade "foe" of the USA.
And on and on and on- we get the message, and know on whose behalf President Trump is delivering it.
When we learned that President Trump repeatedly asked his advisers last August about overthrowing Venezuelan President Maduro, it may have seemed completely unrelated to Trump's determination to destroy the Trans-Atlantic alliance.
However, it may not have been. Last Tuesday, Masha Gessen was asked on "Morning Joe" about what Vladimir Putin wants, and is getting, from the USA. She replied
He's getting exactly what he wants. Putin does not actually want sanctions lifted. Putin does not necessarily want the United States to recognize the Russian occupation of Crimea, although that would be nice. He's perfectly happy with things as they are. A lot of his legitimacy in Russia is actually based on the image of the United States as an enemy.
But what he really needs to project is something that he has been striving for for the last eighteen years that he has been in power, which is to recreate the sense of a bi-polar world where the United States and Russia sit down to sort of divvy up the world and he achieved so much toward that goal yesterday. Just having that press conference where he is so clearly in control of a conversation with the American president demonstrated to Russians that he has made Russia great again.
Dividing the globe into two spheres of influence, one of Russia and one of the United States, is no overnight project. It would require a Congress of Stepford Wives- which Trump currently has- and re-election of the President. But it's in the works.