Never has the US commitment to its NATO allies looked as shaky as this.
Even before the summit had started, president Trump used his breakfast with NATO’s Secretary General to attack his allies, focusing on one in particular.
Germany is totally controlled by Russia, because they were getting from sixty to seventy percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline.
And you tell me if that’s appropriate, because I think it’s not and I think it’s a very bad thing for NATO.
And I don’t think it should have happened and I think we have to talk to Germany better.
The Secretary General looked taken aback.
But the president kept up his extraordinary attack.
For Germany, as far as I’m concerned, it’s captive to Russia, because it’s getting so much of its energy from Russia.
So we’re supposed to protect Germany, but they’re getting their energy from Russia.
Chancellor Merkel, has just survived a bruising political battle at home, had this response to this fresh assault.
I have myself witnessed that part of Germany were controlled by the Soviet Union.
And I am very happy that today we are unified in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany and that’s why we can say that we make our own policies and we make our own decisions.
Despite that comment, she looked as though the ferocity of Trump’s words had affected her.
She was hardly smiling as she interacted with the others.
The president and the Chancellor avoided each other walking at different ends of the procession.
Then what’s known as the family photo at a time of family feud.
As helicopters flew overhead, the tension was high, the leaders clearly aware that current divisions are among the most serious this alliance has faced in its almost 70 years of existence.
Finally when Chancellor Merkel and President Trump actually met, the language was much more conciliatory than earlier.
Perhaps the president decided to back down, he’s been known in the past to avoid confrontation in face-to-face meetings.
Or the two decided to declare a truce for now.
Either way, damage has been done to US-Germany relations and to the image of unity they wanted to reject here.