The United States' main allies are abandoning Trump as his threats to world leaders backfire

Donald Trump

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Donald Trump

  • Donald Trump's threats to its allies are backfiring as European leaders speak openly about loosening their alliance with the United States.
  • Trump has threatened Europe with a new trade war if it defies him on Iran.
  • Now European leaders are speaking openly about cutting back on their ties to the US.
  • The President's decision to assassinate the Iranian general Qassem Soleimani has exposed a growing transatlantic rift.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Donald Trump's decision to assassinate the Iranian general Qassem Soleimani has exposed a growing rift between the United States and its historically closest allies in Europe.

The attack was met with a remarkable level of criticism by European leaders.

The United Kingdom threatened to cut back on its longstanding defence alliance with Trump, and Germany spoke openly about the declining importance of its relationship with the US.

Trump responded by threatening European leaders with a new trade war if it remained committed to the Iranian nuclear deal.

Yet rather than bring US allies into line, Trump's threats merely highlighted the declining importance that many European leaders now place in the transatlantic alliance.

Here's how Trump's international allies are increasingly abandoning the president as his administration alienates the US' longstanding allies around the world.

United Kingdom threatens to cut defence ties with Trump

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Boris Johnson and Donald Trump

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was endorsed by the president when he entered office and has previously been keen to stay close to the Trump administration.

However, Trump's actions in Iraq, which were conducted without even informing their former coalition partners in the UK, have triggered a remarkable turnaround in the UK prime minister's approach to the US.

In the immediate aftermath of Soleimani's assassination, the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab declared that the conflict was "in none of our interests," adding that the only winners of an Iranian war would be Isis.

Johnson also spoke out against the US policy, urging Trump to "dial this down," and warning that Trump's threats to target Iranian cultural sites would be a war crime.

The UK defence secretary Ben Wallace went even further, telling the Sunday Times that Trump's isolationist foreign policy meant that the country was considering cutting back on its defence ties with the US.

"I worry if the United States withdraws from its leadership around the world," Wallace said, adding that "the assumptions of 2010 that we were always going to be part of a US coalition is really just not where we are going to be."

Germany warns that Europe's alliance with the US is crumbling

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Jesco Denzel/German Federal Government via AP; Samantha Lee/Business Insider

Angela Merkel and Donald Trump

In the immediate aftermath of Soleimani's assassination, a German government spokesperson warned the US against any further conflict, telling reporters that Trump's intervention amounted to a "dangerous escalation."

The attack, which damaged Germany's policy of engagement with Tehran, has triggered open debate about the value of Europe's alliance with the US.

In recent days the German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke openly about the declining importance of Europe's alliance with the US.

"There's been a shift," she told the Financial Times.

She added: "The United States' focus on Europe is declining - that will be the case under any president."

"We in Europe, and especially in Germany, need to take on more responsibility."

France dismisses Trump's threats on Iran deal

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Ludovic Marin/Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Donald Trump

France, alongside the UK and other European countries, was instrumental in attempts to forge and maintain a new relationship with Iran through the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal.

It has strongly criticized Trump's decision in May 2018 to withdraw from that deal, and the French government quickly called on the Trump administration to step back from any further conflict.

The Trump administration responded by threatening a new trade war with Europe, imposing tariffs on cars if European leaders remained committed to the Iranian nuclear deal.

However, France instead joined with German and the United Kingdom in signing a statement of support for retaining the deal, while launching a dispute mechanism designed to bring Iran back into line.

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