All of a sudden, Europe feels orphaned. Until yesterday it was the United States that saved our continent. This has happened with fascism and communism, as the United States came to the rescue of a Europe that had committed suicide in the course of the two world wars. And even if the United States made some big mistakes in Latin America, Vietnam or Iraq, democratic America remained a reference point for Europeans. The United States were still seen as the country that helped us out, defended our sovereignty and ensured the West's cohesion through the Nato.
Now, what for better or worse was our defender, after the election of Donald Trump seems to have taken another road.
The new American President sent a strong and unequivocal message: "First of all the United States, while the rest of the world will have to sort things out by themselves". But what is the rest of the world, which Mr. Trump wants to get rid of? All what has to do with sharing, globalization, and integration.
For the new dweller of the White House, America must set free from the bonds with the international institutions. Better Brexit than the European unity, better protectionism than any free trade agreements, better the end of the Nato than a shared defense policy, better a case by case agreement between the countries, and the superpowers, than the strengthening of the United Nations and the super-national entities. Also, better not to let themselves be checked by climate deals than being conditioned by the Paris obligations. Better not to deal with genocide cases, but reaching deals with such dictators and strongmen as Assad, Erdogan and Putin.
Mr. Trump's plan does not come from scratch, but it is the product of the discontent of those who have been penalized by globalization, have lost their jobs due to the rising economies of the third world, those who have experienced negatively women's emancipation and minority rights. His success is built on the fear that has surged over all these years of fundamentalist terror, the fear of losing one's job in the face of the modern phenomenon of immigration.
Farage, Mrs. Le Pen, Salvini, Grillo, Orban and Putin like Mr. Trump, for a very simple reason: the American President believes all world's issues can be solved by a strike of magic wand with the return to ethnic States and the sovereignty of nations. Thus his mission is that of setting free from the super-national elites in the economy and the institutions, looking suspiciously at those who have a cosmopolitan worldview, building walls to avoid the dangers of "contamination”.
Let's not forget that already once, although under different circumstances, Hitler started his campaign against Jews by presenting them to the world as the perverse bringers of a super-national power that would corrupt the authentic soul of the nations. What surprises us in those who today applaud Trump's program is that they do not realize that the return to nationalism in the short term can look like a boost and a revolt against the elites, but in the long run can instead lead to the danger of new big conflicts all over the world.
Today the various Trumps, Le Pens, Salvinis, Putins, and Erdogans seem all good friends committed to a new resurrection of the world. Tomorrow they will wage war against each other.
In his last remarks in the European Parliament Mitterrand, as Sergio Romano reminded, was prophetic. If Europeans abandoned the European ideals and gave up the project of federal Europe, the damages of nationalism that had been in place in the two world wars could rear their ugly face again.
Thus the struggle for European unity is the only answer for the sake of our future world peace. With a difference. Today, in Trump's era, Europe has a new duty. It is called to save America from the risks of a populist, nationalist and isolationist President.