[Germans Appalled by Threat From Trump’s Ambassador to Help
Far-Right Nationalists Take Power Across Europe ]



 Robert Mackey 
 June 4, 2018
The Intercept

	* [https://portside.org/node/17418/printable/print]

 _ Germans Appalled by Threat From Trump’s Ambassador to Help
Far-Right Nationalists Take Power Across Europe _ 

 Richard Grenell, Bernd von Jutrczenka/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images 


The German government demanded a formal explanation from the United
States on Monday of what, exactly, the new U.S. ambassador in Berlin,
Richard Grenell, meant when he promised to use his office to help
far-right nationalists inspired by Donald Trump take power across

In an interview
with Breitbart News, published on Sunday, Grenell said he was
“excited” by the rise of far-right parties on the continent and
wanted “to empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other

US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell makes clear he is a political
activist who will use his position to promote political change in his
host country (and all over Europe). https://t.co/ruo0lrGFMa

— Mathieu von Rohr (@mathieuvonrohr) June 3, 2018

Grenell was apparently not asked if that group includes the far-right
Alternative for Germany — known by its German initials AfD — the
largest opposition party in the German parliament, but he did praise
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, a center-right politician who is
in coalition with the Freedom Party, which was formed in the 1950s by
a former Nazi officer.

A spokesperson for the German foreign ministry told reporters
that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government had “asked the U.S.
side for clarification” as to whether the remarks “were made as

Grenell, a former Fox News pundit whose abrasive Twitter style had
already alienated many Germans
tweeted on Monday that it was “ridiculous
[https://twitter.com/RichardGrenell/status/1003457113128095744]” to
suggest that he would endorse candidates or parties, but stood by his
claim to Breitbart that Europe, like America, was “experiencing an
awakening from the silent majority — those who reject the elites and
their bubble. Led by Trump.”

"… – those who reject the elites & their bubble. Led by Trump."
– @RichardGrenell
pic.twitter.com/hUfW8VY6hd [https://t.co/hUfW8VY6hd]

— Pa.L. von Berlin (@pal1892) June 4, 2018

Leaving aside that Trump was, in fact, elected by a hypervocal
of American voters, his envoy’s apparent willingness to cast off
diplomatic neutrality and meddle in the internal affairs of European
countries caused an uproar.

Sevim Dagdelen, a member of the left-wing German opposition party Die
Linke, suggested
that Grenell had revealed himself to be Trump’s “regime change

The leaders of Germany’s Social Democratic Party, the junior
coalition partner in Merkel’s government, were similarly unstinting
in their condemnation. “Europe’s citizens cannot be told how to
vote by a Trump vassal,” the party’s vice chair, Thorsten
Schäfer-Gümbel, wrote on Twitter
[https://twitter.com/tsghessen/status/1003549279988969472]. “A U.S.
ambassador who meddles in democratic contests is simply out of
place,” he added, perhaps hinting that the ambassador could be asked
to go home.

Martin Schulz, the former leader of the Social Democrats, accused
[https://twitter.com/MartinSchulz/status/1003670711909650433] Grenell
of behaving less like a diplomat than “an extreme-right colonial

Omid Nouripour, the foreign policy spokesman for Germany’s Green
party, told Der Spiegel
that “the American people should be able to expect partisan
neutrality from their representative in Germany, because he represents
all Americans, not just Breitbart and Fox News.”

Guy Verhofstadt, a former prime minister of Belgium who now leads the
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, a free-market group in
the European Parliament, tweeted
[https://twitter.com/guyverhofstadt/status/1003621178676740096]: “We
have to defend Europe against Trump. It’s not up to his ambassador
to influence our elections and steer our society. We respect the
sovereignty of the U.S., they have to respect ours.” Verhofstadt
added the hashtag #GrenellRaus — “Grenell Out” — to his tweet.

There was, however, one political leader in Berlin on Monday who
demonstrated his support for the embattled American ambassador.
Israel’s far-right prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced at
a news conference with Merkel that he had agreed to a brief meeting
with Grenell, at the ambassador’s request
[https://twitter.com/BarakRavid/status/1003656842411741184], before
leaving the German capital.

Before he was confirmed by the Senate, Grenell — a hyperpartisan
Republican activist whose farewell party in New York
was attended by
Donald Trump Jr., Bill O’Reilly, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Wayne
Newton, and a half-dozen Fox News personalities — had promised to
stay out of German politics.

When I raised concerns to Grenell about politicizing this post, he
personally assured me that once he became Ambassador he would stay out
of politics. This interview is awful – Ambassadors aren't supposed
to "empower" any political party overseas. https://t.co/i8oOhqEk5k

— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) June 3, 2018

What was perhaps most stunning about Grenell’s stated aim to
intervene in European politics on behalf of far-right leaders is how
closely it mirrored, and inverted, the behavior of American diplomats
in Eastern Europe during the Cold War, when those states were part of
the Soviet bloc. Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, U.S. ambassadors
did make a point of supporting antigovernment dissidents
but in those cases, the stated aim was to promote democracy in
authoritarian states.

By making it his goal to empower Trump-like nationalists in Germany
and other European nations, Grenell seems to be treating democratic
U.S. allies like authoritarian Cold War enemies.

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	* [https://portside.org/node/17418/printable/print]







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