BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) – Transatlantic circles are warning against a global “disengagement” by the West and is calling for a renewed cohesiveness between NATO countries under US leadership. The fact that Russia was able to take over the Crimea and that China can obstinately maintain its position in disputes over several islands and groups of islands in Eastern Asia, is also a consequence of weak Western leadership, according to the “German Marshall Fund of the United States” (GMF). The West must draw lessons from the current “global disorder.” However, German experts demonstrate a bit more restraint in their appraisals. According to the latest edition of a German military journal, the current intra-Western tensions have primarily arisen from the fact that in the course of its development the EU has “inevitably become a competitor to NATO.” It cannot be excluded that this could cause a serious “rupture in transatlantic relations” and that NATO could even disintegrate into conflicts. However, as long as the EU does not have strong military power, it should “grit its teeth and continue to flexibly attempt to benefit from US capabilities.” This must also be seen in the context of the fact that western hegemony no longer seems assured. Moscow has announced its intentions to carry out joint maneuvers with China in the Mediterranean, thus breaching another western hegemonic privilege.
No Substitute for US Leadership
Twining continues that, in the future, the West must guard against divisions. If its opponents succeed in sowing discord, they could secure for themselves a “strategic advantage.” Western deterrence is diminished, “when allies appear mercantilist, divided, or irresolute.” It would also be a “grave mistake” to “engage competitors … at the expense of regional allies.” German cooperation with Russia, for example, only leads to tensions with East European Alliance members. It would be more promising to encourage “reform in frontier states like Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova” and to plan their integration into the “security community.” A similar development could come in China’s immediate vicinity, as the example of Myanmar currently shows. There is, however, “no substitute for US leadership.” “In its absence, competitors move to fill the vacuum.”
Germany’s Countervailing Power
German experts demonstrate a bit more restraint in their appraisals of US leadership. In the current issue of the military journal “European Security and Technology,” Johannes Varwick, Professor for International Relations and European Policy at the University of Halle-Wittenberg, reminds of the recurrent German efforts to establish a “countervailing power” to that of the United States. This has been the case, for example, “during the 2003 Iraq crisis or the 2011 Libyan crisis,” and it is being repeated in the “NSA crisis in 2014,” writes Varwick – “under very dissimilar government coalition constellations, from SPD-Green to CDU-FDP and CDU-SPD.” Not only Germany, but the EU as well has inevitably become “a NATO competitor” in the “course of its increasing activity in the field of foreign and security policy,” where “frictions between the member countries’ transatlantic and European orientations” have led to “serious tensions.” Even though “extreme positions on the security policy roles of the EU and NATO have begun to converge in the European countries, they have never disappeared,” therefore – as well as because of the financial crisis and its resulting budget cuts – “the EU’s long-term role in the architecture of international and European security remains uncertain.”
According to Varwick, this provides two options. “In the first model, … a twin-pillar alliance on the basis of equality … would develop between the USA and Europe,” writes the professor. “The European pillar would be fully responsible for autonomously handling security problems … within its own environment – including Africa. In cases of emergency and as a deterrence measure, US forces would be available to supportively intervene.” In global conflicts, on the other hand, “case by case decisions” must be made “whether a joint engagement has consensus appeal or not.” The prerequisite for all this, of course, is that the EU can successfully reinforce its military capacities and, above all, its decision-making structures.
Full article: The West under Pressure (German Foreign Policy)