London: The past week was disastrous for the Atlantic Alliance. President Donald Trump was the bull that brings its own China shop with it. At the NATO summit, the President attacked the alliance for failing to allocate enough money for defence, and then proposed a mandatory four percent of GDP as the target. Not even the US spends that much, and besides, NATO defence budgets are already fifteen times greater than Russia’s.The president dismissed British Prime Minister Theresa May — more about that shortly — and accused Germany of being a “captive of Russia” for 60-70 percent of its energy needs. In fact, that number is less than 10%. If German Chancellor Angela Merkel had a sense of humour, she might have chided the president on the importance of facts and told him that if American natural gas were the same price as Russia’s, Germany would sign a deal with them right then and there. Unfortunately, NATO members and Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg were cowed by the President. If Lord Carrington, who died last week at 99, Lord George Robertson or Manfred Werner were Secretary General or Margaret Thatcher represented the UK and Charles de Gaulle France, passivity would not have flourished. Moscow took note.NATO was collectively relieved that the near crash landing caused by Mr Trump’s bellicose bluster and demands was averted when the president finally declared the meeting a success. The alliance agreed to a 23 page declaration with 79 action items including commitments to spend more on defence and at some stage admit Georgia and Ukraine in the fold as well. But make no mistake; the summit threatened the very cohesion and solidarity of the alliance. The Trump’s visit to England was no better. In an interview with Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper, the President criticised Theresa May’s handling of BREXIT. Those off-hand comments could not have come at a worse time. The Prime Minister was fighting for her political life with the resignations of BREXITERS like Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, and BREXIT Minister David Davis. While Mr. Trump pretended he never made those comments, the damage was done. As this goes to the press, the PM could face no confidence letters being filed by a sufficient number of MP’s to force her out of office.Then came Helsinki and what may prove to be the worst Presidential performance abroad in memory. The joint press conference with Mr. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin ignored any serious discussion on Ukraine, Crimea, Syria and nuclear arms control. Worse, Trump blamed American incompetence for derailing US-Russian relations. And the forty-five minutes cantered on Mr. Trump’s decision to take President Putin’s word that Russia did not interfere in the American elections, over the unanimous conclusions of America’s sixteen intelligence agencies confirming Moscow’s involvement. No President has ever impugned his government so dramatically and publicly. Mr Trump’s decision to take President Putin’s word that Russia did not interfere in the American elections, over the unanimous conclusions of America’s sixteen intelligence agencies confirming Moscow’s involvement, was not well received in the US. No President in the past has ever impugned his government so dramatically and publiclyThe supporters of the President weakly countered this news, saying that since the CIA mistakenly concluded that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction back in 2003, any of its subsequent findings must be suspect as well. They conveniently managed to overlook the fact that the reports of “Guccifer 2.0,” Russian military hackers, of whom twelve were just indicted by the Justice Department, initially came from British and Dutch sources, reinforcing the allegations that Moscow interfered in American elections. For these reasons, some have gone so far as to accuse the President of “treason.”These and other cases of destructive, and more than occasional repugnant, Presidential behaviour have de-sensitised public opinion. Any one of these examples, from extra-marital affairs, to disrespect of America’s closest friends, and the embrace of autocrats including Kim Jung Un, Xi Jingping and Vladimir Putin, would have proven instantly fatal to Democrats and probably most Republicans as well. Clearly, Trump seems to possess, at least for the time being, a veritable political Teflon shield.Tragically, the alliance does not. Allies were shocked by this whirlwind deconstruction of seventy years worth of work to forge a strong and, at one time, unbreakable Atlantic alliance. Yet, given the President’s refusal to blame Russia for any wrong doing, it is becoming increasingly hard to believe that President Putin does not have some hold over Mr Trump. The upshot is that regardless of what the Mueller investigation concludes, any findings about guilt or innocence will be angrily contested and rejected by a substantial number of Americans. An already dangerously polarised and pernicious political environment will only be intensified, and that is not good for anyone in the West.The writer is the Chairman of two private companies; senior adviser at the Atlantic Council; and Distinguished Senior Fellow and Visiting Professor at the US Naval War College in Newport Rhode Island. Twitter: @harlankullmanPublished in Daily Times, July 23rd 2018.