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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Even in this era of parallel universes, where facts are no longer facts, history is no longer history, allies are no longer allies, and foreign thugs are no longer foreign thugs, President Trump’s worldwide tantrum-and-torpedo tour has been truly bizarre.

  • You can fairly argue Germany should pony up more for NATO defense or trim a few tariffs on U.S. goods. But it’s harder to argue Germany has been anything other than a trustworthy and resolute ally. (Trump is correct that Germany's leadership has allowed its military to become badly depleted. And the reality is that it can't provide much meaningful assistance to the U.S. And, yes, the Russian gas pipeline is a problem.) But Trump turned Angela Merkel, the staunchest of U.S. partners, into a confused, aggrieved skeptic playing footsie with China on trade. 
  • You can fairly argue Britain has its internal issues and its people have been unusually hostile to the Trump presidency. But it’s hard to argue Britain has been anything other than America’s strongest ally, even when it hurts or is unpopular. Then Trump kneecapped Theresa May on her own soil. Trump's trip did horrors for the British public's view of him. But May knows she needs the U.S., so she stiff-upper-lipped it.
  • You can fairly argue that engaging Russia is better than escalation. But it’s hard to argue that Mueller's methodical investigation is a witch hunt.

Be smart: Trump legitimizes patently illegitimate behavior by publicly coddling Putin.

The irony is that if Trump just kept his mouth shut, his actions would put him in a much better spot with America's allies:

  • He's definitely harmed European relationships through his steel and aluminum relationships, withdrawal from Paris, and withdrawal from the Iran deal.
  • But he's also done stuff the Continent likes — including substantially increasing American military investment in Europe from the Obama years.
  • Oh, and on this trip he signed the NATO joint statement reaffirming all of the allies' commitments.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
25 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Exxon says it's well-positioned amid investor pressure

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

ExxonMobil said Wednesday that its oil-and-gas development plans will create good returns even at modest oil prices as the company looks to win back investor confidence after several rocky years.

Driving the news: The company, just ahead of an investor presentation this morning, said its investments are designed to generate returns of over 30% and touted its spending reductions.

41 mins ago - Technology

Google says goodbye to individual user tracking

Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios

Google made clear Wednesday that after it finished phasing out third-party cookies over the next year or so, it won't introduce other forms of identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web.

Why it matters: The move comes amid increased scrutiny over the way tech giants use consumer data to reinforce their dominance, particularly around personalized advertising.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

The Fed could be firing up economic stimulus in disguise

Federal Reserve governor Lael Brainard at a "Fed Listens" event. Photo: Eric Baradat / AFP via Getty Images.

Even as global growth expectations increase and governments pile on fiscal spending measures central bankers are quietly restarting recession-era bond-buying programs.

Driving the news: Comments Tuesday from Fed governor Lael Brainard suggest the Fed may be jumping onboard the global monetary policy rethink and restarting a program used following the 2008 global financial crisis.