Suddenly former pro-American toadies in media and politics are calling for Germany and Europe to boldly carve out its own path
It is dawning on German elites that America Firster Donald Trump has no special regard for EU nations and actually regards them as trade rivals.
Add to this that the entire EU (except Poland and Ireland) is one giant blue state that can not stomach Republicans just on general principles and you have something great happening. German elites are actually flirting with substantive independence.
Trump's interview to Bild caused quite the stir, we even heard some anti-American barbs, but reaction to his inaugural address was still louder. The Vice-Chancellor actually suggested alternative economic links to China:
“We will have to dress up warm,” said Germany’s minister for economic affairs and Social Democratic Party (SPD) chairman Sigmar Gabriel. However, there is no reason for Germans or Europeans “to be afraid or submissive.”
Rather, following Trump’s “highly nationalistic tones,” one should “firmly” define and pursue one’s own interests. Germany was “a strong country” and Europe “a strong continent, which must stick together.”
If the United States “starts a trade war with China and throughout Asia, then we are a fair partner,” he added. Germany and Europe needed a new orientation toward China and Asia. There were new opportunities, although China is not an easy partner.
If so he will certainly find allies in the opposition:
Representatives of the Left Party, which hopes to be part of an SPD-Left Party-Green Party coalition following the next federal elections, possibly under SPD chancellor Gabriel, argued in a similar fashion.
On broadcaster Deutschlandfunk, leading Left Party foreign policy expert Stefan Liebich said that Trump had “started a dispute with the Peoples Republic of China without any cause.”
In an interview with Neues Deutschland, the party’s parliamentary group leader Sahra Wagenknecht demanded that the German government “get out of [its] subordination to US policy” and replace NATO “through a collective security system which includes Russia.”
The usually highly pro-American media likewise now predicts a great deal of transatlantic tension, and champions European/German independence from Trump:
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung called Trump’s speech “a challenge without precedent.” Europe and Germany should “understand this as a wake-up call.” He added, “Now more than ever, it comes down to them, their performance and their willingness to take responsibility, so that the West can withstand the storms of the present.”
Josef Joffe, another formerly notorious pro-American war propagandist, warned in Die Zeit, Trump could “wreak terrible damage in four years.” But the “despised EU” is “certainly not helpless. “The ‘economic giant’ must now tell Trump of the consequences of acting “tit for tat.” That demands “cold blood and nerves of steel.” Because, “who would have thought that Europe needs to take the part of the United States to save the liberal world order?”
Spiegel Online commented, “Whereas previous inaugurations were always marked by conciliatory tones, this was the exact opposite: a challenge to all opponents, a radical departure from all previous certainties, a display of his own, unstoppable strength, regardless of the rest of the world, without looking at history, just always ahead. This president will not compromise.”
These are encouraging signs. Whatever their rationale, if Germans truly end up leading the EU to substantive independence from the American hegemon that may turn out to be the most historically significant effect of Trump's presidency.