Saturday, July 7, 2018

Trump Views Europe as a Competitor but May Make Germany a Real One, Akopov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 6 – Unlike his predecessors, US President Donald Trump views Europe not as a partner but as a competitor and is thus prepared to sacrifice even short-term domestic American economic interests to weaken it even at the cost of leading Germany to become a real challenger to the US, according to Moscow commentator Petr Akopov.

            Trump’s demand that the Europeans spend two percent of their GDP on defense and pay for the basing of American troops in Europe if they hope for America’s defense won’t help the US defense sector because the Europeans have their own defense industry, the Vzglyad writer says (

            And many NATO members, especially the largest ones like Germany, are unlikely to be willing to increase spending to mollify Trump. As a result, in the short term, Trump’s policy will lead to a weakening of Europe and Euro-Atlantic institutions without any benefit for the American economy whatever he and his advisors may think, Akopov continues. 

            But the real animus of Trump’s policies, the Moscow commentator says, is that “he wants to send a message to Europe that it is dependent on the US and that if it doesn’t want to pay to the fullest for its security, it will have to compensate for that by concessions in other spheres,” such as tariffs on automobiles. 

            For typical Russian and Atlanticist analysts, “such a position is absurd;” but Trump believes it because he “does not consider that the US controls Europe.” Instead, he views the continent as part of some “conditional West, that is, an Atlanticist super-national project in which the US doesn’t have full sovereignty.”

            “What Trump wants above all is “to return the national sovereignty of the US – by destroying for that end a united West.” Not completely but to the point that it will consist of subordinates to the US rather than its partners.” And then, Akopov continues, “US control over Europe will not be military, ideological or cadres but economic.”

            The America of Trump’s “dreams” does not need a strong and united Europe because the EU is almost twice the size of the US in population and has both a serious economy and ambitions of its own.”  Instead, “Trump’s America needs a weakened and divided Europe” – and that is what the US president has sought to promote.

                But it is entirely possible that this will backfire, especially in the case of Germany whose “patience” Trump has been trying. Since 1945, Germany has not been an independent international player comparable to its size and importance. And it did not recover that status even after it reunified because the American forces never left.

                 “The stronger the EU become s and the greater the might of Germany grows,” Akopov suggests, the more difficult it will be for the Anglo-Saxons to influence the administration of a United Europe. So that Trump simply decided to destroy the EU before it completely moves out from under Anglo-Saxon control and is transformed into the Fourth Reich.”

            But if Trump destroys the EU, then Germany will have to become something that the existence of that structure has made impossible: an independent international actor that will be ready to challenge the US. All Berlin’s talk about a European army is directed against the UK and the US, Atlanticism and Globalism.

            If that force arises and if Germany dominates it, Germany “will again become not an object but a subject of world politics, with all the possibilities ensuing from that. The chief one of which is the possibility of an independent choice of direction and the formation of alliances and blocs,” including potentially one that would link Berlin with Moscow and Beijing.

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