“I think right now if Donald Trump invented a cure for the common cold, they would still find a reason to criticize him,” British politician Nigel Farage told Fox & Friends Sunday, commenting on what he considered the hypocritical opposition of the European Union to President Donald Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
Farage, the former head of Britain’s Independence Party, was a leading proponent of the ultimately successful Brexit — Britain’s decision to exit the European Union. In the Fox & Friends interview, Farage accused the EU of having already imposed its own tariffs on steel and other products coming from the United States. “Thank goodness, a world leader is calling out the European Union. When Trump announced 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum as tariffs, the European Union were the loudest critics in the world, saying how dreadful it was — without telling anybody they already put tariffs on aluminum and steel and on virtually every American product that comes into Europe,” Farage said.
“So, they’re guilty, the European Union, of gross hypocrisy,” Farage added.
Farage is right. Despite the rhetoric of “free trade,” the facts are that other nations loudly voice their opposition to protective tariffs while quietly practicing their own forms of protectionism. In a recent column, Pat Buchanan offered the EU as a prime example of this hypocrisy, noting that EU nations impose a value-added tax (VAT) on imports from America, “While rebating the VAT on exports to the USA.” Buchanan said that this use of the VAT “works just like a tariff.”
Today, the EU imposes a 10-percent tariff on U.S. cars, while the United States imposes a much lower 2.5 percent tariff on EU cars.
Farage’s criticisms of the EU went far beyond their hypocritical trade policies with the United States, however. “The European Union is a club run by unelected bureaucrats, bullies — and they’re used to getting their own way. And this story at the moment is being portrayed as Trump is a bad guy, the European Union is the good guys. Trump is the protectionist. The European Union are the free traders.”
In short, Farage insisted, “It is deep hypocrisy for the EU to be doing this. They have already put tariffs on aluminum and steel.… It’s OK for the European Union to do it, but it’s not OK for Trump to do it.”
Farage argued that while the criticism of Trump is particularly intense, it is not novel, noting, “I’m old enough to remember Ronald Reagan and all those same newspapers, all the same media outlets saying Reagan was an idiot; he wasn’t fit to be U.S. president.” Like they do with Trump today, Farage contends that these same critics never gave Reagan credit for anything.
Addressing the concern that Trump’s action on tariffs will lead to a “trade war,” which Farage insists is more of a reaction, Farage called it “absolutely ridiculous," adding, "If the European Union want to retaliate by putting further tariffs on Tennessee bourbon, or Levi’s jeans or Harley Davidsons, they will find a tit-for-tat with German motorcars. So, I would say to the EU: All that Trump has done are the same things that you yourself have done. Leave it where it is. And if you want to push it, this man will not back down.”
Simply put, Farage has put his finger on a long-time problem in the area of international trade, as it involves the United States. American manufacturers have to compete with subsidized foreign manufacturers. America has shouldered much of Europe’s defense, enabling nations such as Germany to invest more of their own capital in manufacturing. American military might kept the Soviets out of Germany for decades. Yet, when Trump argued that the other NATO countries needed to begin doing their share, they act as if it is Trump who is in the wrong.
Farage added that Trump is only doing “what he told the American people he would do during the election campaign,” saying Trump is “a guy of substance.” What particularly galls the elitists who run the EU is Trump’s promise to put America first. Apparently, they believe he should put the EU first.
But while the elitists in Europe despise Trump, Farage contends that many people across Europe are not only “getting used to Donald Trump,” they “are absolutely crying out for … firm leadership” in their own countries.
Photo of Nigel Farage: Euro Realist Newsletter via Wikimedia