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It’s a Terrible Idea for Trump to Cozy Up to Nigel Farage

But you probably could have guessed that for yourself.
June 18, 2019
It’s a Terrible Idea for Trump to Cozy Up to Nigel Farage
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

In London, when President Trump was not busy breaking protocol with the queen, insulting the Duchess of Sussex, attacking London Mayor Sadiq Khan, complaining about CNN on Twitter—OK, you get it—he was doing real harm.

The president met with Nigel Farage, a member of the European Parliament from England and a staunch Brexiteer. In fact, after leaving his old party, the United Kingdom Independence Party, he formed a new party and called it the Brexit party, a populist-right party.

Farage is  now seeking to open his own trade talks with the U.S.government. While to some it might sound odd to have trade talks with somebody who has no position in a foreign government, the good folks at Human Events are all cheered up for an Anglo-American right-wing populist alliance.

Let’s consider the concerns: Ignoring his anti-Semitic comments in the past, and putting aside the virtues and vices of Brexit, Farage is not a British official, and his party is an opposition party—albeit without any seats in the UK Parliament—to the governing Conservative party. The president of the United States associating himself with an opposition leader undermines the U.K. government.

But why is important?

While Human Events is concerned with the global populist movement, the Trump administration and the United States have bigger fish to fry, and we need the U.K. government to help us with it, which Nigel Farage is not a member of and has no trajectory to be.

The United Kingdom is the largest military ally of the United States, both in conventional and nuclear power. It is also the world’s fifth-largest economy. As powerful as the United States is, it needs the help of the United Kingdom more than any other country to combat its international challenges, be it terrorism in the Middle East and South Asia—the UK still has troops on the ground in Afghanistan fighting our war—containing China, or pushing back against Russia’s aggressive behavior.

For instance, the U.K. imports $100 billion of goods from China and the United States—roughly $50 billion from each. If the United States is serious about its trade war with China, it has to work with the U.K. government to change the balance in its own favor to further pressure the Chinese economy.

Also, the U.K. is an importer of American military goods, host to an American Air Force base that is a critical advantage against Russia, and itself a nuclear military power crucial in deterring Russia in Europe.

And then there is dealing with the other Europeans. It is a dirty little secret that the Brits have been doing our dirty work in Europe for us. The best example dates back to 9/11, the only time that Article 5 of NATO was invoked. But it wasn’t the United States who invoked it. It was the British government, and it didn’t do it gracefully but with some arm-twisting of other Europeans. Can the Trump administration ask the May government, or whoever succeeds her, to keep providing us with such assistance while actively undermining that government by promoting the opposition?

Finally, there’s the electoral problem. The Brexit party, just like its UKIP predecessor, takes most of its votes from the right and not the left. The GOP has two formal affiliations with the Conservative Party—Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe and International Democrat Union—which are international alliances of free-market parties. Undermining the sitting Conservative prime minister of the United Kingdom will only help the Labour Party.

Do we really want to help noted anti-Semite Jeremy Corbyn? While Brexiteers have been promising Americans free trade agreements that will be great for the relations between the two countries, we can be certain that such great relations will not happen under the premiership of the Russophile and Marxist Jeremy Corbyn. The likelier scenario is further restrictions of American goods, abandoning our security alliance, and a turn toward Russia and maybe even China. The likelihood of Corbyn’s giving up the U.K.’s nuclear arsenal, one of the last lines of defense against Russia, is very high.

The truth is that if Nigel Farage wants to say something to President Trump, he can always go on Fox & Friends. Otherwise, he has no power to influence policy in the U.K., and his negotiations with the United States will be useless. What he really wants is to undermine Conservative government  of Theresa May and her likely successor, Boris Johnson.

What President Trump should ask himself is whether he wants to jeopardize the American interest and security for a publicity stunt. Oh wait, maybe we should hope he doesn’t.  

Shay Khatiri

Shay Khatiri studied Strategic Studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. He’s an immigrant from Iran and writes the Substack newsletter The Russia-Iran File.