Struggle for Global Power Status

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BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) – The United States is preparing sanctions against European companies participating in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, according to senior US government officials. German government officials, on the other hand, predict that US sanctions will lead to a confrontation with the whole of the EU. “We will do everything necessary to complete the pipeline.” At the same time, the power struggle over the participation of the Chinese Huawei Corporation in setting up the 5G grid in Germany and the EU is escalating. After the German government indicated that it would not exclude, a priori, Huawei, the US ambassador in Berlin is threatening to reduce cooperation between the two countries’ intelligence services. US President Donald Trump is also considering calling on countries to pay the full cost of stationing US forces on their soil, plus 50 percent more. German government advisors are pleading for a “policy of ‘softer’ or ‘more robust’ countervailing power formation.” Europe’s “strategic autonomy” is at the core of this power struggle.

“Strategic Autonomy”

The “strategic autonomy” was first claimed by the EU in June 2016 in its “Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy.”[1] It is again the subject of the latest study published by the chancellery-financed German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). According to the SWP, “strategic autonomy” is not merely “the ability to set one’s own priorities and make decisions in foreign and security policy.” One must also have the “institutional, political and material prerequisites” to implement one’s own priorities “in cooperation with third parties or, if necessary, independently.”[2] “The opposite of strategic autonomy,” SWP continues, would be “the status of a recipient of rules and strategic decisions, taken by third parties … that directly affect Europe.” “Third parties,” setting rules and making decisions could also be the United States. “Strategic autonomy” vis-à-vis the United States means achieving the status of a global power.

Formation of a Countervailing Power

The SWP suggests that “one’s own foreign policy options be expanded” also in relationship to the USA.[3] The Trump administration’s “disruptive and erratic foreign policy” virtually challenges the EU, “to define and protect European interests more independently.” Berlin and Brussels should also be prepared “for increased controversy, more open and contentious debates and even conflicts with the USA” for the period following the presidency of Donald Trump. “Some conclusions for dealing with the US” certainly could be deduced from the quest for “strategic autonomy.” The EU and its member states should “pursue a policy of ‘softer’ or ‘more robust’ economic or diplomatic countervailing power formation – depending on the constellation of conflicts and interests.” “Strategic autonomy” cannot be maintained free of charge: “The costs of greater autonomy in relationship to the USA” must be “denominated and taken into account” at all times.

Mixed Results

Dispute over Nord Stream 2

Now the Trump Administration is taking the offensive in two other fields, in which Germany seeks to defend its interests, diverging from those of the USA, to enforce its “strategic autonomy.” One is the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which assures Germany – for the time being [6] – exclusive access to Russian natural gas deposits, as well as granting Berlin a key position in the EU’s natural gas supply. Already at the beginning of the month, a high-ranking State Department official confirmed that if European companies continue construction of the pipeline, they risk “significant sanctions.”[7] Another US government official has now confirmed in the business press that Washington is already preparing sanctions. Reportedly, in Berlin, this is clearly considered an aggression against a NATO partner. Sanctions would certainly lead “to a confrontation – not only with Germany, but with Europe,” a government official in Berlin was quoted. “We will do everything necessary to complete the pipeline.”[8]

Dispute over Huawei

Simultaneously, the conflict is escalating over the use of the Chinese Huawei Corporation’s technology for setting up the 5G grid in Germany and the EU. Berlin has not yet made a final decision, but has so far left the option open to resort to Huawei products to meet German companies’ strong interests.[9] Washington is continuing its global campaign to exclude Huawei and is increasing its pressure on the German government. In a letter to the German Ministry of Economy, the US Ambassador to Berlin, Richard Grenell has just threatened that, if Huawei is given the go ahead in Germany, the USA would see itself “no longer in a position … to continue sharing intelligence information and other data at the current level.”[10] Already in the dispute over Nord Stream 2, Grenell had resorted to letters threatening not only Germany, but also dozens of companies from various European countries.

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Full article: Struggle for Global Power Status (German Foreign Policy)

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