An Essential Part of the West

WASHINGTON/BERLIN | | usa

WASHINGTON/BERLIN (Own report) - After Donald Trump's victory in the US presidential elections, the German government announced that it will continue its close cooperation with the United States and is calling for enhancing Germany's position in the transatlantic relationship. Chancellor Angela Merkel "offered" President-elect Donald Trump "close cooperation" on the basis of particular conditions. Jürgen Hardt, the German government’s Coordinator of Transatlantic Relations, spoke of the "necessity for us Europeans, and particularly for us Germans, to assume more responsibility." This "responsibility" would "grow" under a US President Trump and this concerns "all ... instruments of foreign and security policy." The call for more German influence reiterates positions recently voiced in Berlin's foreign policy establishment, demanding "not to leave stability policy proposals up to the USA," but to independently evaluate how to "shape the future global order." German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger, are linking this demand to a call for significantly increasing the German military budget.

Lost Control

After Donald Trump's victory in the US presidential elections, the German government announced that it will continue its close cooperation with the United States and is calling for Germany to strengthen its position in the transatlantic relationship. In Berlin, initial reactions to Trump's victory were marked by big surprise, because not only the opinion-forming media, but also polling institutes in the United States had predicted Hillary Clinton's victory right up to the end. This was a gross miscalculation that has its parallels on the European continent, such as the Brexit Referendum and the FPÖ success in Austria’s presidential elections. It also shows that the ruling establishment has not only lost its control over large sectors of the population but is not even conscious of their sentiments. Therefore, in their initial reactions, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and leading German foreign policy experts called the US election result a "huge shock."[1]

On a Par

This morning, Jürgen Hardt (CDU), Coordinator of Transatlantic Relations already raised the demand to significantly enhance Germany‘s position within the framework of the transatlantic alliance. "The transatlantic Partnership is, and will continue to be, an indispensable pillar of German foreign policy," Hardt declared. "We will extend our hand to the new US administration and hope that we can build on the close and trusting cooperation of the past." This particularly includes "the close cooperation within the NATO alliance."[2] There is, however, the "necessity for us Europeans and, particularly for us Germans, to assume more responsibility and to throw more weight onto the balance," Hardt explained. This "responsibility" would "grow" under a US President Trump and concerns "all ... instruments of foreign and security policy." The intention of enhancing Germany's position and, if possible, be "on a par" with the USA, has already been expressed in the statements by the German chancellor and foreign minister. Merkel underlined her "offer" to "closely work" with President-elect Donald Trump on the basis of particular conditions ("common values"). Steinmeier was quoted saying, "just as we Germans, in the past, have learned a lot from our American friends, we should now give encouragement to our American friends."[3]

"Shaping the World Order"

Demands from within Berlin's foreign policy establishment that Germany enhance its position within the framework of the transatlantic alliance have become louder over the past few days and weeks. For example, according to a recently published analysis of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), global policy intentions currently "have only little prospects of success, without the participation of the American hegemon." Nevertheless, it is indispensable "to ponder the reaction, should US behavior become counterproductive from a German perspective." "Without the will to argue with the US government, many options for gaining influence are excluded from the outset."[4] In the future, "Germany and Europe should not leave stability policy proposals up the USA" continues the analysis. "The trans-Atlantic relationship," as well as "how to shape the future global order" must be independently evaluated.

More Money for the Military

The influential diplomat and Chair of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger expressed similar views in the current issue of the foreign affairs journal, "Internationale Politk." Germany is "today ..., without question, an essential part of the West," writes Ischinger in his detailed article. "To enumerate Germany’s important roles for the West" is "no expression of megalomania." However, to keep abreast of its important position, "Europe," must invest more heavily in its military. "We need ... more urgency in the establishment and development of effective European defense structures."[5] At the end of the 1980s, Germany was still spending "nearly half" of its budget "on foreign and security policy questions, in the broader sense of the terms." "Today, it is in the range of about a tenth." We can no longer afford this, "given our full treasury and an expanding crisis zone inside and outside Europe's borders." This morning, Germany's Minister of Defense, von der Leyen, confirmed this, promising a massive increase in Germany's military budget. This has already been explicitly announced on various occasions by Chancellor Merkel. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[6])

With Trump Against Muslims

Since some time already, Ischinger has been calling for significantly expanding western operations in Syria, to substantiate his call for Germany’s greater global influence. One should not "a priori categorically exclude the use of military force," Ischinger declared over the weekend.[7] Beginning in January, Berlin will be carrying out operations in Syria and other Islamic countries alongside the nation, whose president-elect has used excessively chauvinist language, not only in relationship to women, but toward Muslims as well. The future Commander-In-Chief of the war against IS - in which Germany is participating - called for Muslims in the USA to be registered and foreign Muslims being banned from entering. He expressed himself in derogatory language toward Islam. From Berlin's perspective, attaining global power in the framework of the transatlantic alliance is, of course, more important than the effects Germany's main ally has on the war-torn countries of the Islamic world.

[1] Von der Leyen ist "schwer schockiert". www.spiegel.de 09.11.2016. Deutsche Politiker schockiert von voraussichtlichem Trump-Sieg. www.focus.de 09.11.2016.
[2] Transatlantik-Koordinator zum Ausgang der US-Wahlen. www.auswaertiges-amt.de 09.11.2016.
[3] Außenminister Steinmeier zum Ausgang der Präsidentschaftswahlen in den USA. www.auswaertiges-amt.de 09.11.2016.
[4] Johannes Thimm: Auch ohne Trump wird vieles anders. SWP-Aktuell 64, Oktober 2016. See Weltpolitik nach Obama (II).
[5] Wolfgang Ischinger: Achse der Zuversicht. Internationale Politik November/Dezember 2016, S. 74-79.
[6] S. dazu Auf Weltmachtniveau.
[7] "Eine Schande für den Westen". Bild am Sonntag 06.11.2016.