In January 2018 I advanced the hypothesis that U.S. President Trump understood that the only way to “Make American Great Again” was to disentangle it from the imperial mission that had it stuck in perpetual wars. I suggested that the cutting of this “Gordian Knot of entanglements” was difficult, even impossible, to accomplish from his end and that he understood that the cutting could only come from the other side. I followed up with another look the next March. I now look at my hypothesis as Trump’s first term comes to an end.
While we are no closer to knowing whether this is indeed Trump’s strategy or an unintended consequence of his behaviour, it is clear that the “Gordian knot of U.S. imperial entanglements” is under great strain.
German-American relations provide an observation point. There are four demands the Trump Administration makes of its allies – Huawei, Iran, Nord Stream 2 and defence spending – and all four converge on Germany. Germany is one of the most important American allies; it is probably the second-most important NATO member; it is the economic engine of the European Union. Should it truly defy Washington on these issues, there would be fundamental damage to the U.S. imperium. (And,, the damage could be greater still.) And yet that is what we are looking at: on several issues Berlin is defying Washington.
Washington is determined to knock Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications company, out of the running for 5G networks even though, by most accounts, it is the clear technological leader. In March Berlin was told that Washington “wouldn’t be able to keep intelligence and other information sharing at their current level” if Chinese companies participated in the country’s 5G network. As of now, Berlin has not decided one way or the other (September is apparently the decision point). London, on the other hand, which had agreed to let Huawei in, reversed its decision, it is reported, when Trump threatened to cut intelligence and trade. So one can imagine what pressures are being brought on Berlin.
Berlin was very involved in negotiating the nuclear agreement with Tehran – the JCPOA – and was rather stunned when Washington pulled out of it. German Chancellor Merkel acknowledged that there wasn’t much Europe could do about it: but added that it “must strengthen them [its capabilities] for the future“. When Washington forced the SWIFT system to disconnect from Iran, thereby blocking bank-to-bank transactions, Berlin, Paris and London devised an alternate system called INSTEX. But, despite big intentions, it has apparently been used only once – in a small medical supplies transaction in March.
Thus far, Berlin’s resistance to Washington’s diktats has not amounted to much but on the third case it has been defiant from the start. Germany has been buying hydrocarbons from the east for some time and it is significant that, throughout the Cold War, when the USSR and Germany were enemies, the supply never faltered. And the reason is not hard to understand: Berlin wants the energy and Moscow wants the money; it’s a mutual dependence. The dependence can be exaggerated: a BBC piece calculated two years ago that Germany got about 60% of its gas from Russia but that only about 20% of Germany’s energy came from gas: a total of 12%. But it is very likely that that 12% will grow in the future and Russian supply will become more important to Germany. On the other hand, while it is happy to get the business, given the limitless demand from China, Russia could give up the European market if it had to. But, at present, it remains a mutually beneficial trade. ...
Read this very interesting article @ Strategic Culture Foundation