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Europe Does Not Need American Protection Anymore

NATO does very good work every day, but it is "a bit of an anachronism." 9/11 has accelerated the divergence of European and American geostrategic interests. Europe does not need American protection anymore, with the exception of the nuclear guarantee, says Nick Witney, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

He gave an excellent and forthright speech at the Heinrich Boell Foundation's Annual Foreign Policy Conference on the transatlantic security architecture and European defense efforts.

I very much agree with his description of European mainstream perceptions of and positions on security. At a time when so many US journalists and pundits are questioning the relevance of NATO and express their increasing disappointment with the Europeans, I would like to recommend the ten minute video below to better understand why most European countries are not spending more on defense and do not send more troops to US led wars.

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Schwarzenegger as EU President

Newsweek:

Terry Tamminen, who headed California's Environmental Protection Agency before serving as Schwarzenegger's cabinet secretary, has told him that he should be president of a newly reconstituted European Union.

"In the next few years, the EU will be looking for a much more high-profile president-somebody who can unify Europe," Tamminen says. "The French won't want a German, and the Germans won't want an Italian. How about a European-born person who went off to America and ... could return to be the Washington or Jefferson of a new unified Europe?"

I am not sure, if Tamminen is joking or has no clue about European politics. IMHO it is more likely that Terminators from the future will travel back in time than Schwarzenegger becoming EU president.

I have a much more urgent and important job for Schwarzenegger. He has to get in shape and fight against Skynet. After all, as The Guardian points out, today, April 21, 2011, is the day when Skynet, the villainous super-computer from the Terminator films, is due to launch its assault on mankind. Terminator director James Cameron tweeted: "Instead of machines taking over, we have the very real threat of global warming."

Europe's Indispensable Nation

Germany is Europe's "indispensable nation," in charge of "the unipolar moment within the eurozone," and it is to the EU what the United States is to NATO. That's how European and US think tankers compare Germany with the US:

David Rothkopf in Foreign Policy (via atlantic-community.org):

To the extent the EU, NATO, or the G20 have an effective future, Germany will be central to setting the parameters of the agenda. For some, the notion that so many issues important to the future of the world depends on the international engagement of a benevolent Germany will seem more than a little ironic. So too will the fact that Germany has become Europe's indispensible nation. But these are among the game-changing facts of the 21st century. Germany is not just the wallet of Europe, it also must necessarily be Europe's spine and its heart.

The European Council on Foreign Relations makes another comparison with the US. Financial Times:

"Rarely has Germany been as important in Europe - or as isolated - as it is today," say Ulrike Guérot and Mark Leonard in a new pamphlet for the European Council on Foreign Relations. "There has been a kind of 'unipolar moment' within the eurozone: no solution to the crisis was possible without Germany, or against Germany."

Constanze Stelzenmueller wrote in another Financial Times article about Germany: "In economic terms, it is to the European Union what America is to NATO: the superpower that gets to call the shots."

Germany should lead? No thanks. Most Germans rather want their country to be a bigger version of Switzerland. We prefer to just sell our cars, machines and tools around the world, play soccer, watch Tatort, and attend to our Gartenzwerge (lawn gnomes).

NYT Criticizes German Leadership

The New York Times (via ACUS) describes a joint proposal from German Chancellor Merkel and French President Sarkozy to the EU leaders as a "German diktat." That's the first weird assessment in this Germany bashing editorial. Here are three more:

Mrs. Merkel wants all 17 countries that use the euro to fall in line with German ideas of fiscal austerity in return for limited additional financial support for countries in trouble. She expects them to run deficits no higher than Germany's (3.5 percent of G.D.P.), allow retirement no earlier than Germany (age 67), and raise or lower their tax rates as required to match Germany's.

a) Has the NYT forgotten what the EU agreed on two decades ago? According to the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 deficits should be below 3 percent and debt below 60 percent of GDP. Most countries broke the rules. For some this caused more serious economic problems than for others. Now Germany is asked to help them.

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Does Europe Have Something to Say on Egypt?

Prime Minister David Cameron, President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a joint UK-France-Germany statement on the situation in Egypt:

We urge President Mubarak to embark on a process of transformation which should be reflected in a broad-based government and in free and fair elections."

Of course, the NYT finds a negative angle to report on this: "The statement by Mrs. Merkel, Mr. Sarkozy and Mr. Cameron exposes the lack of any coherent and united response by the European Union as a whole, even though under the Lisbon Treaty of 2009, its reaction to major events was intended to be swifter and united."

Well, the EU foreign minister did produce a united response yesterday calling for a peaceful, orderly and democratic transition. The problem is not the lack of unity, but the fact that we don't have something meaningful to say.

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Europe and China: Weapons for Investment?

Atlantic Community:

EU countries mired in debt are getting help from an unlikely source: China. The ascendant superpower is buying up large amounts of European bonds and investing heavily in euro zone countries. Moreover, there is talk of a reversal of the long standing EU arms embargo on China. Is this all a coincidence?

Kurt Volker, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO and now managing director at Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University commented: "If all this were to play out - that is, lifting the embargo, subsequent sanctions, etc. - it would be a new low point in U.S.-E.U. relations." (HT: NATO Source)

I agree. I hope the EU does not lift the arms embargo. In my opinion NATO countries should not sell any arms to non-NATO members.

Blaming Each Others Financial Policies

From a Washington Post editorial:

ABOUT TWO weeks ago, Germany's finance minister described U.S. economic policy as "clueless." We don't want to sound childish, but after yet another bailout for an insolvent European country - about $137 billion for Ireland - we are inclined to ask: If the United States is clueless, what does that make Germany? The de facto leader of the crisis-ridden, 16-nation eurozone, Berlin has not performed its role brilliantly over the past year.

A good defense of German policy against US criticism of its "export-led growth model" can be found on Atlantic Community: Stop Lecturing and Do Your Homework, America!

Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff: America's argument about the Chinese currency manipulation may be valid but it is also a distraction. It is America's own lack of competitiveness that is hurting the US more than anything. America will be able to revive the credibility of its global economic leadership only when it stops blaming its democratic peers and instead starts doing its homework.

Reunification: Germany Succeeds in Icy Negotiations

Germany has been criticized for a self-centered foreign and economic policy lately: Afghanistan, economic stimulus, Greece. Germany's commitment to the transatlantic alliance and European integration is called into question. I wonder how much of this is influenced by German reunification 20 years ago. We achieved our main goal (the jackpot) back then and need allies less since. Besides, our friends in the West were not very supportive of our main foreign policy goal, if the Spiegel's summary of the road to unification is to believed.

President Bush is described as "rather indifferent to the question of unification" and erecting "the highest hurdle when he stated that the United States would only agree to reunification if the new Germany were brought into the NATO fold."

British diplomats wondered whether this was a trick aimed at postponing German reunification for years to come. Nevertheless, Kohl agreed to Bush's proposal. He was concerned that if Germany became neutral, NATO would collapse. Without the North Atlantic pact, Kohl worried, the Americans would disappear from Europe, and nuclear powers France and Great Britain would then form a tighter alliance. It was an outcome no chancellor could possibly wish for. But if Kohl agreed to NATO membership, Bush would stand by his word -- and American influence in Europe would increase. The only problem was convincing Gorbachev to accept both reunification and NATO membership. His troops were still stationed in East Germany, which was still a member or the Warsaw Pact, and Gorbachev was still convinced that a leftist political party emerging from the SED could save the GDR.

Why did Gorbachev agree so quickly? According to Spiegel he was so busy with the Soviet Union's domestic troubles that he did not care that much about Germany. (Another reason was that he was a moralist and did not want to be seen as an extortionist by putting more demands on Germany.)  Though, opposition to reunification grew in the West in 1989 and 1990:

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