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COLUMN #12

Berlin: On Armed Alert

February/March 2020

From the Torture Chambers of the Economic War

New US sanctions against Russia and China in planning with serious consequences for the EU.

BERLIN/WASHINGTON | | usa

BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) - A European foreign policy think tank warns of a dramatic expansion of the US economic war at the expense of Germany and the EU. According to a current analysis of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), the recent US bill on sanctions against Nord Stream 2 leaves no doubt that, for Washington, there are no more "taboos" in its economic war. The law that could be enacted within a few months would also provide for coercive measures against German officials. The ECFR is drawing attention to sanctions recommendations, coming particularly from Republicans, which would seriously affect the German economy. Not only should Russia be declared a "state sponsor of terrorism," it should also be cut off from the financial messaging company SWIFT and additional sanctions should be imposed on China. Congressional representatives want to thwart the EU's attempts to undermine US sanctions against Iran with the "Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges" (INSTEX) and propose "financial exercises." more…

Franco-German Conflicts

New divergences in the EU: Paris calls for more cooperation with Russia and more confrontation with Turkey.

BERLIN/PARIS | | frankreich

BERLIN/PARIS (Own report) - Serious conflicts between Berlin and Paris over foreign policy overshadow the beginning of the German EU Presidency. French President Emmanuel Macron's ongoing endeavors to cooperate more closely with Russia are being met with resentment in the German capital. During a recent two-hour long video conference with his Russian counterpart. he agreed to soon visit Moscow. In fact, the German government lays claim to leadership in determining the EU's policy toward Russia. There is also the conflict between France and Turkey, which had considerably escalated after a Turkish naval vessel carried out radar targeting of a French frigate in June. Paris therefore withdrew from a NATO operation and is demanding tougher EU sanctions being imposed on Ankara. This runs counter to Berlin's intention to seek the kind of cooperation with Turkey that can safeguard the refugee pact and serve its own geostrategic interests. The dispute could escalate next week when the EU foreign ministers meet. more…

Council Presidency in the Great Power Rivalry

German Presidency of EU-Council begins. Goal: economic and political independence from China and the USA.

BERLIN/BRUSSELS |

BERLIN/BRUSSELS (Own report) - With its EU-Council Presidency, which begins today, the German government seeks "to set in motion unprecedented changes" in the European Union, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas announced. Not only should the EU countries' economies - which are experiencing an unprecedented slump, due to the Covid-19 pandemic - be reinvigorated, it is also crucial "to consolidate the union permanently," Maas declared. Berlin is thus reacting to the fact that single-handed national initiatives to combat the pandemic - particularly those of Germany - have severely damaged the EU's reputation within the populations. According to a recent survey, 50 percent of respondents in Spain declared that their view of the EU had deteriorated, in Italy, it was even 58 percent. The German government is also pushing to strengthen the EU's "sovereignty" and to reduce its dependency not only on China, but also on the USA: In the global great power rivalry, Europe must position itself as a "united entity," Maas demands. more…

"To the Second League"

Chancellor Merkel receives President Emmanuel Macron in the German town of Meseberg. France falls further behind Germany during the crisis.

BERLIN/PARIS | | frankreich

BERLIN/PARIS (Own report) - German Chancellor Merkel will host French President Emmanuel Macron today to discuss the German EU Council Presidency, which begins on Wednesday, and the European Economic Recovery Plan. The meeting is to suggest a stable Franco-German cohesion in combating the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, France is much more affected by the crisis than Germany. France benefits comparatively little from the EU Recovery Plan and is falling further behind in the inner-European power struggle with Germany. France is at risk of being relegated "to the second league" according to French commentators. Also in view of the 89th anniversary of the German invasion of France, Macron recently reported that he was currently studying the analysis " L'Ètrange Défaite" (The Strange Defeat), written by French historian Marc Bloch in 1940, on the reasons for the French defeat in World War II. With reference to the shared history of the war, Paris and London are intensifying their cooperation. more…

The EU's Creative Power

As mediator in the Libyan war, Berlin failed in its ambition to enforce a ceasefire.

BERLIN/TRIPOLI | | libyen

BERLIN/TRIPOLI (Own report) - German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has announced new German initiatives to end the war in Libya and declared that the EU's "Irini" military operation is an "example of the Union's political creative power." Germany has so far failed in all its efforts to achieve a ceasefire in that North African country. This is particularly significant since the German government assumed the role of mediator in the Libyan war in the eyes of world's public at its Berlin Libya Conference on January 19. Instead of laying down their arms, the Libyan belligerents have since escalated their combat. Following initial successes of the East Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar's militias, troops of the "Government of National Accord" (GNA) were finally able to achieve a military breakthrough and advance toward the strategically important areas of Sirte and al-Jufrah. Now, Egypt is threatening to intervene. Experts believe that, at best, Russia and Turkey would be able to enforce a ceasefire but not Berlin and the EU. more…

NATO Setting Sights on East Asia

The western alliance is assuming a stronger posture in relationship to China. US experts call for NATO operations in the Pacific.

BERLIN/WASHINGTON | | usachina

BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) - NATO should systematically expand its military exercises and operations into the Asia-Pacific region, an expert of Washington's Atlantic Council think tank proposes in the intensifying debate on the posture the western war alliance should assume in relationship to the People's Republic of China. China's "presence in the Arctic, in Africa and in the Mediterranean" calls for a response, according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Think tanks suggest that NATO should more closely monitor Chinese investments in the European infrastructure, because "civilian roads, ports and rails" under construction with Chinese participation "are an integral part of NATO's plans for military mobilization." NATO is also strengthening its relations with "global partners" such as Japan, South Korea and Australia. For the first time, Australia's defense minister participated at the meeting of the NATO Ministers of Defense that ended yesterday. The Atlantic Council is also suggesting the establishment of a NATO military headquarters in the Asia-Pacific region. more…

The Green Cold War

Transatlantic parliamentary alliance launched against China - with substantial involvement of a German Green politician.

BERLIN/WASHINGTON | | usachina

BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) - Politicians from the German Green Party are playing a leading role in a new transatlantic anti-China alliance of legislators. Anti-Chinese hardliners, Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez, are considered the driving forces in the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), launched last Friday, currently involving members of twelve parliaments. Officially, the organization seeks to forge a common western policy toward China. A concrete aim appears to be the implementation also in Europe of the US sanctions policy against Beijing. IPAC is mobilizing legislators, there where national governments are still rejecting the sanctions. In the wings of the Munich Security Conference, last February, Reinhard Bütikofer, a Green Party member of the EU parliament had already proposed the creation of such a legislator pressure group. He is now acting as IPAC co-chairman. The alliance, which is calling for the development of "security strategies" against China, has an Ex-CIA specialist on its advisory board. more…

Troop Reduction Debate

German government advisors: Washington could close US bases in Europe to more offensively engage against China.

BERLIN/WASHINGTON | | usa

BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) - Independently of the Trump administration's recent move in that direction, German government advisors are hinting of possible US troop reductions in Germany. In a current analysis of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), the author notes that, given the Corona crisis is inducing a drastic slump in the US economy and the national debt is likely to skyrocket to over 100 percent, it can be expected that Washington will have to set certain priorities in its military policy. The USA would focus more than before on the power struggle with China and possibly reduce its presence in Europe. The Trump administration's relevant plans have been met with strong criticism in Washington and Berlin. If implemented it would be "a gift for Putin," according to US politicians and German military officials. It would certainly not be easy for the USA to make major reductions in Germany, where its military installations are playing a key role in US wars. more…