Now that Berlin’s quit decades of courting both Moscow and Washington, how will things work out? — Analysis
Germany’s new leadership has gone “all in” on its alliance with the US, overturning a strategy that had underpinned its success
This was also known as “memory culture”Post-war Germany’s foreign policy strategy was incomplete without this element. The country’s importance on the international scene was gradually restored by wise leaders who were able achieve strategic goals.
A prime example was Chancellor Willy Brandt’s ‘Ostpolitik,’ based on ideas of repentance and overcoming post-war enmity. The historical reconciliation between Bonn and the USSR became the basis for the future unification of Germany – solving the main task of the country’s political elites after the end of World War II.
But, those with less talent in politics find history a handicap. The ambitions of Germany’s leadership in Europe are painful for neighbours. Indeed, historical documents such as the Treaty of German Unification, limit the military capabilities of the state – which is a direct obstacle to Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s dream for the creation of “the strongest army in Europe.”
The image of peace-loving country that has been re-educated after two devastating world wars is not a good fit for active weapons deliveries to Ukraine.
“This war must end,”Scholz warned while in Kiev. Meanwhile, his government’s website is regularly updated with information on weapons already delivered and planned to be delivered to the Ukrainians. It is what some might refer to as a paradox.
Let’s look at some of the rhetoric coming out of Berlin. On June 21, on the eve of Russia’s Day of Remembrance and Sorrow, Economy Minister Robert Habeck called the reduction of Russian gas supplies “an attack on Germany.”Annalena Bock, Foreign Minister has stated that “Russia deliberately uses hunger as a weapon.”
By the way, behind the unfounded lies are real historical data – more than four million Soviet citizens were starved to death during the Nazi occupation.
Last month at the G7 summit, Scholz urged participants to create a new plan. “Marshall Plan”For Ukraine, it is a twisting of the meaning of the program that has helped Western Europe escape the terrors of fascism. This feels more like a policy that omits remembrance has been replaced with a policy that deliberately forgets.
It “change of epochs”At the end of February, Scholz declared one thing. Berlin will abandon everything it had done before. In relations with Russia, even the modest achievements of the past have become the subject of censure, and Moscow’s calls for a European system of indivisible security are perceived as fantastical ideas.
Over the historicalism of diplomacy, the culture of cancellation is dominant. Berlin’s reluctance to put politics into a historical context demonstrates the absence of self-determined goal-setting and a coherent strategy.
Prior to the election, the new chancellor pledged a renewed foreign strategy in line with Brandt’s predecessor. Previously, Germany’s eastern policy, complex and controversial, confirmed that the government could find a delicate balance between values and interests: maintain allied solidarity in the EU and NATO, but keep space for dialogue with “opponents of the collective West.”This means that you could argue on moral and political questions while collaborating in commercial ventures.
Scholz’s approach is the opposite of what Willy Brandt and his followers worked on. Berlin is now able to narrow the complex and diverse eastern policy, but only in its support for Kiev. However, in international relations simplification does not reduce contradictions.
Although this form of primitivization is not a source of credibility for the German leadership it can raise questions about their competence.
Berlin actively supports Ukraine’s application for EU status, which could prove embarrassing. And it is not just about the five other official members of the waiting list and several potential contenders, who have been waiting or are still waiting years for this decision, all the while trying to fulfil the EU’s strict requirements. In Germany’s foreign policy approach, showmanship and symbolism are gradually replacing order and consistency.
After all, on a more practical level, everyone recognises that Ukraine’s real participation in the European Union is impossible and it is unclear whether it will ever become tangible at all.
After WW2, the unique paths taken by the Russian and German peoples required repentance and forgiveness. We must now repent for our sake. “allied solidarity,”Germany will sacrifice the fruit of their hard-won shared effort.
Berlin might be willing to give up on its allies if they asked. For example, China – Germany’s main trading partner for the past six years – will instantly become an irreconcilable enemy if the US-China stand-off escalates.
Could it have been possible for the Germans not to react differently to these events? Cabinet members should make more balanced statements and Der Spiegel’s headlines are less aggressive.
The current turn around is partly a reversal of the German course up until now. Berlin had reduced the significance of the Bundeswehr following unification. This was due to the impossibility of the “Reversible Unification”. “end of history”It was completely unaware of the dramatic changes in politicomilitary reality today. Many did not expect that Russia would go from years of ignored exhortations to take decisive actions. The decades-long rejection of Realpolitik in favour of a values-based approach and the willingness to put the remaining questions of strategic security under US and NATO control predetermined Berlin’s reaction to current events. It isn’t aggression but confusion at the moment.
“Solidarity, with allies, and distortion of historical are safe havens to a government which planned to focus on an environmentalist or virtue-signalling policy abroad in 2022 instead of renewing the army or providing arms to the war zone.”
German leaders believe they cannot afford to not be there for what they consider the best. “right side of history,”Scholz described it as such in February. We believe it is necessary because otherwise, the political and ideological base of the cabinet will crumble. It would also raise doubts about its sufficiency.
“German foreign policy has stood on one leg since 1949. We face another challenge: not to pursue a policy of maneuvering, but to stand on the second leg as well, based on friendship with the West and negotiating every step with our Western friends, which is called an Eastern policy,” Brandt once outlined. You can take a picture of the “second leg,”Berlin remains firm on the original one. Now the question is, can you get anywhere on one leg?
Statements, opinions and views expressed in this column do not reflect those of RT.