Trump is presiding over 'the biggest strategic defeat for the United States since the early days of World War II' as European allies ignore his threats and back Huawei

tcolson@businessinsider.com (Thomas Colson,Adam Bienkov)
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  • President Donald Trump's attempts to pressure European allies into dropping their ties with the Chinese telecoms company Huawei have failed.
  • European countries appear set to join the United Kingdom in approving the company's continued role in the development of a 5G network on the continent.
  • Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich described Trump's failure a "the biggest strategic defeat for the United States since the early days of World War II."
  • Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, who sits on the House Foreign Relations Committee, said that "not even our closest ally Britain, with a Trump soulmate in Downing Street, listens to us anymore."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump's European allies appear set to ignore his threats and back Huawei's involvement in the development of a 5G network on the continent.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision this week to allow the Chinese telecoms company's involvement in 5G in Britain, despite multiple threats from Trump and his allies to withdraw security cooperation and impose trade penalties, is set to trigger a wave of similar decisions by other European leaders, Politico reported.

The development prompted one prominent Republican on Wednesday to label Trump's failure "the biggest strategic defeat for the United States since the early days of World War II."

With European allies also closing ranks on Trump's actions against Iran, the president is looking increasingly isolated on the world stage.

Europe and the UK ally against Trump

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Trump had ordered his European allies to impose a blanket ban on Huawei's 5G involvement.

However, Johnson's decision provides cover for other European countries — many of whom are minded to allow Huawei to help build their own 5G networks — to defy Trump themselves.

Politico reported that European countries could copy the UK's new security policies granting Huawei a limited role while restricted it from sensitive sites such as nuclear power stations.

The European Union has drawn up recommendations for member states that stop short of banning Huawei.

"The EU's approach was inspired by the UK one," an EU diplomat told Politico, adding that Trump's call for a blanket ban "won't be the preferred choice for most" European countries.

Individual countries across the continent are likely to follow the UK's lead and allow Huawei a role in their future 5G networks, despite being on the end of intensive lobbying efforts from the Trump administration.

Germany, Poland, and the Netherlands are leaning toward allowing Huawei a role in future telecoms networks, while the French government confirmed in November that it was "not following the position of the United States" and refused to exclude Huawei from bidding for its 5G network.

Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the US House of Representatives, on Wednesday branded the development "the biggest strategic defeat for the United States since the early days of World War II."

"I think people have got to wake up and understand this is a huge failure of our government bureaucracies to respond to a challenge we've seen coming," he told the BBC.

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, who sits on the House Foreign Relations Committee, tweeted on Tuesday that "America has never been weaker."

"We have never had less influence," he said. "Not even our closest ally Britain, with a Trump soulmate in Downing Street, listens to us anymore."

Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-highest-ranking Republican in the House, led criticism from within the president's own party.

"Tragic to see our closest ally, a nation Ronald Reagan once called 'incandescent with courage,' turn away from our alliance and the cause of freedom," she tweeted.

Europe's defiance of Trump over Huawei echoes a pattern seen after Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani was assassinated in January on Trump's orders.

Then, too, European leaders adopted a strikingly similar tone in their reactions, refusing to endorse Trump explicitly and warning against escalation in the Middle East.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ben Wallace, the UK's defense secretary, also called into question the strength of the relationship between their countries and the US in the weeks that followed.

The developments show that while the US continues to exert enormous lobbying power over policy in Europe, solidarity across the continent in the face of those lobbying efforts is acting as an increasingly powerful corrective.

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