A New Grand Strategy

BERLIN | | russische-foederationusa

BERLIN (Own report) - An influential German weekly opened a debate on the call for redefining EU - US relations. The West's current policy toward Ukraine is diametrically opposed to "European" interests, according to an article published in the online-edition of the German weekly "Die Zeit". "Europe should not deprive itself of cooperation with Moscow; it should rather be enhanced. At the same time, the EU should intensify its relations with Washington, while pursuing "its own concepts" with more determination. The objective should be a "new and more promising transatlantic grand strategy." The article was authored by an associate of the Global Policy Institute, a think tank in London, but his standpoint also reflects opinions being expressed within the German foreign policy establishment. Back-stage disputes over Germany's policy toward Ukraine are slowly surfacing into public view.

"Readjust Transatlantic Relations"

With an article entitled "Europe must readjust its relations to the USA," published at the beginning of this week in its online-edition, the German weekly "Die Zeit" opened a fundamental offensive against the current policy toward Ukraine pursued by the EU and USA." This article is also remarkable because, until now - as in the rest of the German mainstream media - anti-Russian commentaries have prevailed also in this weekly. The online-edition of "Die Zeit" has even gone to the extent of publicly denouncing one of its free-lance contributors, who had written several rather differentiated articles for "Zeit-online," because he had also contributed articles to a journal, co-financed by Moscow. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[1]) This article authored by foreign policy expert Chris Luenen differs considerably from the policy line previously published by the journal.

"Bridgehead" vs. "Exclusion"

In his article on the current debate of the policy to take toward Ukraine and Russia, Luenen, first of all, describes the strategic concepts, as Zbigniew Brzezinski - former security advisor for US President Jimmy Carter and influential still today in the US foreign policy establishment - had outlined in his 1997 classic "The Grand Chessboard." According to Brzezinski, Washington uses the EU as an "essential geopolitical bridgehead to the Eurasian continent," which is supposed to contribute to the "globalization of a western-style liberal order" as well as to the "globalization of US hegemonic security for the global order." Fitting into this concept is the "wish, to integrate Ukraine into the Euro-Atlantic structures," to be able to expand that "bridgehead" eastward. At the same time, however, Brzezinski warns of the "possibility of a major European reorientation," which "could either lead to a German-Russian arrangement or a French-Russian entente" - and to "America's exclusion from the [European] continent." Luenen adds that these apprehensions have worried "Anglo-American strategists since the days of the British empire," clearly discernable, for example in "Sir Halford Mackinder's 1904 Heartland Theory," "and apparently still vibrant today."[2]

The Russian-Chinese-Iranian Alliance

The "decision to expand the Western sphere of influence eastward, through the EU and NATO's continuous expansion," has in fact been the most serious "strategic mistake the West has made since the end of the cold war," says Luenen. This has merely pushed Russia and Iran "even further into China's arms and into an anti-hegemonic, anti-western alliance under China's leadership." However, "a Chinese-Russian-Iranian Alliance" would force the West "to engage in an even more aggressive foreign policy, to insure its access to important - but dwindling - raw materials, such as oil, gas and rare earth." Luenen explains that it is "somewhat easier" to insure Western interests - obviously meaning also access to "dwindling raw materials" - by the establishment of a ... strategic partnership with Russia (and with Iran)." Therefore, it was unadvisable to have provoked Russia by bringing Ukraine into the Western hegemonic system.

"No Longer Submit to the USA"

Leunen pleads with unusual frankness for a change of course in global policy. "The EU," he writes, "should no longer submit to a Made in Washington strategy." Instead, it should "stand up for its own interests," which it has "always been weak in pursuing." EU interests would be consistent with the "maintaining and consolidating" of its "ties with Russia." These are concerns Brussels should urgently address. Of course, it "naturally also" is necessary for the EU to make efforts to "maintain," and even "consolidate a unified and strong West." But with a view toward Russia, it must pursue "its own interests much more explicitly" - and even show the USA, "if necessary, clearly where its limits lie." Alongside the consolidation of cooperation with Moscow - the question revolves around "redefining transatlantic relations." The EU must ultimately bring to bear "its own concepts concerning the West's future" as the "basis for formulating a new and more promising transatlantic grand strategy" - as others have stated it - but "on an equal footing with the USA."

The Old Pendulum

In German history, the strategy of a sort of pendulum policy, oscillating between East and West, constantly enhancing one's own position, extends as far back as the Anglo-American strategists' anxiety about losing influence on the European continent, which Luenen mentions. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[3]) That strategy is dependent upon maintaining sustainable relations to both centers of power - Washington and Moscow. Some sectors of Germany's foreign policy establishment, including individuals within the political entourage of the "Zeit" weekly, have repeatedly protested against the Berlin government's current policy toward Ukraine, demanding that the German special relationship to Moscow be safeguarded. For example, from the very beginning of the Ukrainian Crisis, German Ministry of Defense's former Chief of the Planning Staff and current "Editor at Large" of "Zeit," Theo Sommer, has been raising strong criticism of western policy.[4] Former SPD Chancellors Helmut Schmidt and Gerhard Schroeder, as well as the Christian Democrat foreign policy specialist, Philipp Mißfelder, have been campaigning in favor of maintaining cooperation with Moscow. In the current charged atmosphere, in which unequivocally transatlantic oriented forces are calling the shots of Berlin's foreign policy, the "Zeit-Online" journal has dared to step forward with an article that gives voice to the foreign policy establishment's spectrum, which has traditionally favored a "pendulum policy." Of course, this article is explicitly noted - arguably as a precautionary measure - as a guest contribution and the author being an associate, not of a German, but of a British think tank, has a greater detachment from the domestic German debate.

"Two Global Policies"

A few months ago, a columnist of the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" had already confirmed that this controversy has been gaining significance in Berlin for quite a while. In reference to efforts to continue close cooperation with Russia, he wrote, "the future global constellation being sought in Berlin is one that will be multi-polar, in which the EU is economically tightly knit with Russia, in an effort to be able to compete with the USA and China on the global market. Washington's approaches will be constantly scrutinized to see if they are in Europe's best interests. ... The same is also true in the Ukrainian Crisis, where some in Berlin are insinuating that Washington cannot wait to impose sanctions, because they possibly will prove to be more of a detriment to Europe than to the USA - not only economically but geostrategically as well."[5] The author, who favors a traditional transatlantic policy, explained that in Berlin, there are different concepts for securing German power in the global struggle - "two global policies."

[1] See The Free World.
[2] Zitate hier und im Folgenden: Chris Luenen: Außenpolitik: Europa muss seine Beziehungen zu den USA neu justieren. www.zeit.de 06.06.2014.
[3] See Kooperation und Konfrontation, NATO im Osten? "Das gibt Krieg" and Keine Angst vor Moskau!.
[4] See Expansive Ambitions and Die Verantwortung Berlins.
[5] Majid Sattar: Zweierlei Geopolitik. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 05.05.2014.