The meeting recently held between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the United States (US) President Donald J. Trump was no less important. It was being viewed by pundits of International Relations around the world with great interest. It is because the meeting was being perceived as not only taking place between the two countries, rather was meeting was going to decide the fate of alliance between the US and the Europe. Where the US, after the dissolution of the Soviets Union, still enjoys the privilege of being a hegemon because of its economic and military might, Germany has stood out among European states and because of its economic might, especially it achieved under the reign of Chancellor Angela Merkel , has become a new face of Europe. The alliance between the US and the Europe has played a major role in maintaining stability around the world in post-World War 2 era and both have stood by each other in maintaining world order in post-Cold War era.
Post 9/11, dents have started to appear in the alliance between the US and the Europe. The alliance, which had been brought into existence to counter communist threat, is finding it hard to sustain itself intact sans communist threat. Moreover, the rise of Germany, as an economic giant in Europe has changed the power matrix between the stakeholders within the alliance. This can be attributed to the US wanton military adventures across the globe legitimizing its actions through having political support of Europe which some states in Europe especially Germany do not want to be part of. Germany, in 2003, opposed the US invasion of Iraq and later on refused to be part of coalition which the US was preparing to attack Syria after chemical weapons were discovered over there.
Moreover, vis-à-vis Russia, where the rest of Europe is being prompted by the US to take a tough stance against Russia in their foreign policy, it is Germany in Europe which believes in mutual co-existence with Russia; though, at times, it has opposed human rights violations taking place in Russia. Germany recently opposed the installment of strategic missile defence system at the behest of the US with the logic that it would militarize the region and was very much against the inclusion of East European states, like Georgia and Ukraine, lying on the border of Russia. Germany’s accommodating approach towards Russia is very much dictated by its dependency upon Russia for natural gas.
Germany’s recent rise as an economic giant and its role in changing power matrix of the alliance, if studied in face of its history, makes it a quite interesting case to study. Germany, after igniting World War 1 in Europe, was crippled in the Treaty of Versailles through which Europe put an end to World War 1. In order to take revenge, Germany rose again in 1930s under the stewardship of Adolf Hitler, and, through belligerent attitude, made the world face another war, World War 2. After the war, Germany was divided via Berlin Wall into East Germany and West Germany. East Germany was under the influence of Soviet Union and had a socialist regime and West Germany was under the influence of the United States and had capitalist regime. In 1989, Berlin wall collapsed at the behest of the US, and two German blocs were reunited. Germany remained in gratitude to the US for its reunification, but, post 9/11, Germany has started to behave like an independent actor, knowing how to assert itself in the face of its national interests. From Europe economic crisis to NATO’s spending to immigration to climate change, Germany has pursued its foreign policy very much catering to Germany’s national interests and, in such pursuing of its foreign policy, it has, at times, stood out among European states in opposing the US interests in the alliance transactions.
Germany, under Chancellor Angela Merkel , wants the alliance to be catering to both the US and Europe interests. Since there is no direct threat from Russia, Germany does not think it sane that trans-Atlantic alliance be defined only in terms of military aspect in which the US plays the role of Europe’s protector. Germany, as a new leader of Europe, wants Europe to act autonomously and does not blindly act to pursue the US national interests.
The incumbent US president, Donald J. Trump, might have these illusions that alliance, which existed between the US and the Europe back then in Cold War, in which the US used to dictate the operation of the alliance, still exists. That is why he was quite assertive in asking German chancellor to make sure that Germany equally shared the cost of NATO defence spending. But he is living in fools’ paradise because, sans any direct threat from Russia, he cannot get support of European counter parts, especially Germany, for wanton US military adventures across the globe. This is reflective from Germany’s outright disapproval for sending more troops to South Afghanistan at the US behest, its opposition to Iraq war and its opposition to installment of missile defence system in Europe. Moreover, though both the US and Europe need each other, the threat to this alliance is not from rising Germany which is making sure, as the new leader of the Europe, that Europe is as much autonomous in the alliance to decide as the US. This alliance is facing a big threat from impulsive nature of President Trump who, instead of correcting what went wrong in the alliance that gave birth to assertive Germany opposing interests in the alliance at times, might exacerbate already fragile nature of this alliance through his tantrums.