The Ally‘s Instability

Experts predict “political instability” in the USA and new transatlantic tensions, while in the power struggle against Moscow, Berlin is more dependent on Washington than ever before.

BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) – German foreign policy experts warn of new tensions in the transatlantic alliance and point to the looming decline of the United States. That society is becoming more and more divided, according to the recent issue of the leading German periodical on foreign policy (“Internationale Politik”). Whereas the Republicans are increasingly successful in advancing their “right-wing conservative agenda” with the help of the Supreme Court, the Democrats can hardly push through their agenda “despite congressional majorities.” If the Republicans win in the November midterm elections and in the presidential elections in two years, “political instability” or even “constitutional crises” are “realistic scenarios”, Internationale Politik predicts. This could also affect foreign policy. Germany’s most important global ally would thus be threatened with internal upheavals – at a time, when the escalating power struggle against Moscow is driving Berlin more than ever before into political and economic dependency on Washington.

Increasingly Polarized

Several authors in the German periodical on foreign policy Internationale Politik (IP), published by the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), are particularly worried about the United States’ domestic development. With a view to ex-President Donald Trump and senators such as Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Josh Hawley, they see the Republicans developing “more and more” into becoming an “anti-democratic party.”[1] Their “right-wing conservative agenda,” concerning issues from abortion to gun control, is gradually being implemented by the Supreme Court, whereas Democrats have so far barely succeeded in pushing through their own agenda “despite congressional majorities.” It should be noted that the “social discourse is becoming more and more radical and hateful, political polarization is increasing, the presence of firearms is rising in an already militarized society and one third of the US-Americans believe that the use of violence against the government is legitimate,” Dominik Tolksdorf, a DGAP expert on the United States writes.[2] “Political instability” and possibly even “constitutional crises” could certainly become “realistic scenarios.”

Committed to US Self-Interest

In light of the internal polarization and looming political instability in the United States, Peter Sparding of the Washington-based German Marshall Fund of the USA (GMF), contends that these already weaken the global standing of the United States’. They reduce “the USA’s reliability and role model function in the world.”[3] The problem would become even more acute, if in the midterm elections, Republicans win the majority in both houses of Congress or win the next presidential elections. The fact that Trumpish positions – such as „traditionally isolationist views” as well as a “nationalist hardline policy” –seem to be already predominant among them is of serious concern. “In contrast to former conservative idols such as Ronald Reagan,” today’s Republicans are “no longer even emphasizing rhetorically the defense of universal democratic rights and freedoms.” They are instead advocating “a strict foreign and security policy committed solely to direct American self-interest.” As in the Trump era – when Washington even resorted to economic warfare against Brussels [4] – conflicts with their European allies are virtually pre-programmed.

China Policy Dispute

Transatlantic tensions could already ignite on the concrete issue of the power struggle against China in the aftermath of the mid-term elections in November. As Sparding notes, pertaining to the People’s Republic, “the Republican voters” are “taking a far more critical stand” and are demanding “stronger confrontation with Peking, particularly in economic questions.”[5] Therefore, it “can be expected that Republicans in Congress” – should they win a majority in one or both of the houses – “would demand an aggravation.” Powerful sectors of Germany’s economy are opposed to such an aggravation. They are highly – and still increasingly – dependent on the Chinese market and on China, as a production and development site, and a serious deterioration of relations to the People’s Republic would threaten dramatic losses. ( reported.[6]) Although the German government plans to reduce the German industry’s business with China,[7] it is seeking to avoid a comprehensive decoupling from the People’s Republic. Recently, France’s President Emmanuel Macron also explicitly refused to be drawn into the rivalry between the USA and China.[8]

More Dependent than Ever

Moreover, the threat of political instability in the United States weighs heavily on Germany – especially because the escalation of its power struggle against Russia and, possibly even against China, will increase Germany’s dependency on its alliance with the USA. Therefore, for the foreseeable future, Berlin will be militarily dependent on Washington, to be able to apply pressure on Moscow by massing troops at NATO’s eastern flank. At the same time, Germany’s economy is more dependent than ever on the United States. It not only needs substitute sales markets for the loss of business in Russia – and depending on developments also in China. It also needs new sources for replacing the loss of Russian gas. According to experts’ current forecasts, the EU countries imports of liquefied gas from the United States will increase so massively that the EU will have imported by 2030, at the latest, more gas from the USA than it had imported until now from Russia. This will mean that the EU’s gas-dependency on Washington will be greater than it had been on Moscow.[9] Political instability and even possible uprisings in the USA would potentially carry dramatic consequences for Germany and the EU.

“A Reliable Partner”

In spite of the growing political polarization in the United States, which experts are qualifying as quite critical, according to a recent poll, more than half of the German population (58 percent) are convinced that the USA will remain “a reliable partner for Germany.” Only a good third (34 percent) currently believe otherwise.[10] The conviction that the United States will remain a reliable partner is held by a bit more than half (60 percent) of the voters of the particularly pro-business FDP. It is slightly more prevalent among SPD voters (64 percent). An even larger portion of CDU/CSU voters (71 percent) have hopes in the reliability of the transatlantic alliance. These hopes are highest among the Greens’ voters (73 percent). Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s party proves once again to be the most reliable partner of the United States, which is increasingly divided domestically, and sharply veering to the right.[11]


[1], [2] Dominik Tolksdorf: Supermacht im Sinkflug? In: Internationale Politik September/Oktober 2022. S.46-51.

[3] Peter Sparding: Zwischen Chaos und Konsens. In: Internationale Politik September/Oktober 2022. S.18-23.

[4] See also Die nächste Strafzollrunde and Die nächste Strafzollrunde (II).

[5] Peter Sparding: Zwischen Chaos und Konsens. In: Internationale Politik September/Oktober 2022. S.18-23.

[6] See also Schäden im Wirtschaftskrieg.

[7] See also Entry into Decline.

[8] Michaela Wiegel: Ein großes Lob für den Kanzler. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 02.09.2022.

[9] See also Die Flüssiggas-NATO.

[10] Bleiben die USA ein verlässlicher Partner für Deutschland? In: Internationale Politik September/Oktober 2022. S. 5.

[11] See also The End of War Fatigue.