October 26, 2017
On Germany‘s confused foreign policy
in an essay in Die Zeit, Jorg Lau and Bernd Ulrich give an excellent overview of the multiple delusions in German foreign policy. Germany has been benefiting from the US security umbrella, both as a guarantor of global democracy and global stability. This umbrella has obviated the need for a German strategic foreign policy. The authors argue that strategic thinking in German foreign policy circles is completely absent. We would agree. German foreign policy discussions are always about relationships, not about interests.
We have made the argument before that the idea of Angela Merkel as the leader of the western world is utterly ridiculous. We see this as an outcry of wounded soft-headed liberals who couldn‘t get over the fact that Donald Trump won the US presidency. The key point the authors are making is the delusion that the problems will go away by themselves, that Trump is some kind of aberration.
The authors recall the serial misjudgements of the German transatlantic establishment. First they were confident that the Republicans would never nominate Trump. That gave way to the certainty that he could never be elected president. The next misjudgement was that he would change once in office. The state-of-the-union speech ended that illusion. Then came the hope that what they called the "adults“ in the Trump administration would run policy.
"The Atlantic community is now down to its last hope: that the Trump phenomenon is a temporary aberration. There’s not much to support this because Barack Obama had already begun to withdraw from the conflicts involving Europe’s neighbors. He saddled Merkel with the Ukraine crisis. In the Middle East, he did as little as possible (which allowed the Russians to penetrate.) He also left the EU alone with the refugee crisis, which was a result, not least, of the chaotic U.S. policy in the Middle East."
So this leaves Germany in a position where it can no longer rely on the US for its security, nor is it in a position to replace the US. Where the article falls short is a strategic answer to the dilemma. There is no mention of the role of the EU, but we see no possibility - or desirability - that Germany on its own will be in a position to provide a solution.