State should not sacrifice US friendship over Trump, ex-US ambassador says

Anne Anderson says we ‘cannot embrace Trumpism’ which is at odds with our values

US president Donald Trump speaks with then  taoiseach Enda Kenny at a St Patrick’s Day  event in 2017. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

US president Donald Trump speaks with then taoiseach Enda Kenny at a St Patrick’s Day event in 2017. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

 

The former Irish ambassador to the United States, Anne Anderson, has said while “we cannot embrace Trumpism,” our leaders must not sacrifice our friendship with the US for any negative feelings they may have for its president.

Ms Anderson also said that the view that “misogyny” played a role in Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the 2016 presidential election may prevent the Democratic Party from nominating a woman candidate next time around.

Speaking in a personal capacity at the Kilkenny Arts Festival, Anne Anderson said that European and other western leaders are “struggling” with coming to terms with how to deal with Donald Trump, a man with “a very large ego,” particularly following his appearances at G7 and Nato summits.

“For us, America is a country with whom we have the most profound affinity,” she said in Kilkenny. “It’s a friendship that this country has that is going to outlast any president. We cannot sacrifice that to a feeling with being out of sympathy to the current president.

“But at the same time, of course, we cannot embrace Trumpism, it is at odds with our values as a people and it’s a very difficult balancing act for western leaders and leaders going to the White House.”

She said then-taoiseach Enda Kenny “played it very well” during his meeting with Mr Trump on St Patrick’s Day, 2017, when he developed a “rapport” with the president but later spoke out against the his policies on immigration and isolationism. “Of course it was a difficult situation, you had half the country back in Ireland feeling, should you be consorting with this man and what does it say about Irish values? The challenge was, as it is for people engaging with this administration, that you want to protect and advance your interests without compromising your values. You have seen the way different European leaders and leaders around the world are trying to meet that challenge, and it’s not an easy one.”

She described America as a land of “grace and generosity” and said there was “a frisson” in the room when Enda Kenny delivered his 2017 speech, but “people got the message... this was not the America that we related to or the America we wanted to relate to”.