domingo, 22 de febrero de 2015

Quo vadis, Deutschland?

Posteamos un más que interesante artículo de Hans Kundnani para Foreign Affairs, la revista del Council on Foreign Relations ( Uno se queda con la impresión de que la nota intenta meter miedo a los lectores con la idea de una fuga alemana hacia Eurasia. Tal como lo demuestran varios de los comentarios que suscitó el artículo (y que reproducimos acá, al final), los mismos no comen vidrio. De todos modos el ensayo es, al decir de los anglosajones, “food for thought”. Veamos:

Título: Leaving the West Behind

Subtítulo: Germany Looks East

Texto: Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014 was a strategic shock for Germany. Suddenly, Russian aggression threatened the European security order that Germany had taken for granted since the end of the Cold War. Berlin had spent two decades trying to strengthen political and economic ties with Moscow, but Russia’s actions in Ukraine suggested that the Kremlin was no longer interested in a partnership with Europe. Despite Germany’s dependence on Russian gas and Russia’s importance to German exporters, German Chancellor Angela Merkel ultimately agreed to impose sanctions on Russia and helped persuade other EU member states to do likewise.

Nevertheless, the Ukraine crisis has reopened old questions about Germany’s relationship to the rest of the West. In April, when the German public-service broadcaster ARD asked Germans what role their country should play in the crisis, just 45 percent wanted Germany to side with its partners and allies in the EU and NATO; 49 percent wanted Germany to mediate between Russia and the West. These results led the weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel, in an editorial published last May, to warn Germany against turning away from the West.

Germany’s response to the Ukraine crisis can be understood against the backdrop of a long-term weakening of the so-called Westbindung, the country’s postwar integration into the West. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the enlargement of the EU freed the country from its reliance on the United States for protection against a powerful Soviet Union. At the same time, Germany’s export-dependent economy has become increasingly reliant on demand from emerging markets such as China. Although Germany remains committed to European integration, these factors have made it possible to imagine a post-Western German foreign policy. Such a shift comes with high stakes. Given Germany’s increased power within the EU, the country’s relationship to the rest of the world will, to a large extent, determine that of Europe.


Germany has always had a complex relationship with the West. On the one hand, many of the political and philosophical ideas that became central to the West originated in Germany with Enlightenment thinkers such as Immanuel Kant. On the other hand, German intellectual history has included darker strains that have threatened Western norms—such as the current of nationalism that emerged in the early nineteenth century. Beginning in the latter half of the nineteenth century, German nationalists increasingly sought to define Germany’s identity in opposition to the liberal, rationalistic principles of the French Revolution and the Enlightenment. This version of German nationalism culminated in Nazism, which the German historian Heinrich August Winkler has called “the climax of the German rejection of the Western world.” Germany, therefore, was a paradox: it was part of the West yet produced the most radical challenge to it from within.

After World War II, West Germany took part in European integration, and in 1955, as the Cold War heated up, it joined NATO. For the next 40 years, the Westbindung, which led Germany to cooperate and pursue joint security initiatives with its Western allies, became an existential necessity that overrode other foreign policy objectives. Germany continued to define itself as a Western power through the 1990s. Under Chancellor Helmut Kohl, a reunified Germany agreed to adopt the euro. By the end of the decade, the country appeared to have reconciled itself to the use of military force to fulfill its obligations as a NATO member. After 9/11, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder pledged “unconditional solidarity” with the United States and committed German troops to the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

Over the past decade, however, Germany’s attitude toward the rest of the West has changed. In the debate about the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Schröder spoke of a “German way,” in contrast to the “American way.” Since then, Germany has hardened its opposition to the use of military force. After its experience in Afghanistan, Germany appears to have decided that the right lesson from its Nazi past is not “never again Auschwitz,” the principle it invoked to justify its participation in the 1999 NATO military intervention in Kosovo, but “never again war.” German politicians across the spectrum now define their country as a Friedensmacht, a “force for peace.”

Germany’s commitment to peace has led the EU and the United States to accuse Germany of free-riding within the Western alliance. Speaking in Brussels in 2011, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned that NATO was becoming “a two-tiered alliance . . . between those willing and able to pay the price and bear the burdens of alliance commitments, and those who enjoy the benefits of NATO membership, be they security guarantees or headquarters billets, but don’t want to share the risks and the costs.” He singled out for particular criticism those NATO members that spend less on defense than the agreed-on amount of two percent of GDP; Germany spends just 1.3 percent. In the past few years, France has similarly criticized Germany for its failure to provide sufficient support for military interventions in Mali and the Central African Republic.

One reason Germany has neglected its NATO obligations is that the Westbindung no longer appears to be a strategic necessity. After the end of the Cold War, the EU and NATO expanded to include some central and eastern European countries, which meant that Germany was “encircled by friends,” as the former German defense minister Volker Rühe put it, rather than by potential military aggressors, and it was therefore no longer reliant on the United States for protection from the Soviet Union.

At the same time, Germany’s economy has become more dependent on exports, particularly to non-Western countries. In the first decade of this century, as domestic demand remained low and German manufacturers regained competitiveness, Germany became increasingly dependent on exports. According to the World Bank, the contribution of exports to Germany’s GDP jumped from 33 percent in 2000 to 48 percent in 2010. Beginning with Schröder, Germany began to base its foreign policy largely on its economic interests and, in particular, on the needs of exporters.

Increasing anti-American sentiment among ordinary Germans has contributed to the foreign policy shift, too. If the Iraq war gave Germans the confidence to split from the United States on issues of war and peace, the 2008 global financial meltdown gave it the confidence to diverge on economic issues. For many Germans, the crisis highlighted the failures of Anglo-Saxon capitalism and vindicated Germany’s social market economy. The revelations in 2013 that the U.S. National Security Agency had been conducting surveillance on Germans and eavesdropping on Merkel’s cell-phone calls further strengthened anti-American sentiment. Many Germans now say that they no longer share values with the United States, and some say that they never did.

To be sure, Germany’s liberal political culture, a result of its Western integration, is here to stay. But it remains to be seen whether Germany will continue to align itself with its Western partners and stand up for Western norms as it becomes more dependent on non-Western countries for its economic growth. The most dramatic illustration of what a post-Western German foreign policy might look like came in 2011, when Germany abstained in a vote in the UN Security Council over military intervention in Libya—siding with China and Russia over France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Some German officials insist that this decision did not prefigure a larger trend. But a poll conducted shortly after the vote by the foreign policy journal Internationale Politik found Germans to be split three ways over whether they should continue to cooperate primarily with Western partners; with other countries, such as China, India, and Russia; or with both.


Germany’s policy toward Russia has long been based on political engagement and economic interdependence. When Willy Brandt became chancellor of West Germany in 1969, he sought to balance the Westbindung with a more open relationship with the Soviet Union and pursued a new approach that became known as the Ostpolitik, or “Eastern policy.” Brandt believed that increasing political and economic ties between the two powers might eventually lead to German reunification, a strategy his adviser Egon Bahr called Wandel durch Annäherung, “change through rapprochement.”

Since the end of the Cold War, economic ties between Germany and Russia have expanded further. Invoking the memory of Brandt’s Ostpolitik, Schröder began a policy of Wandel durch Handel, or “change through trade.” German policymakers, and particularly the Social Democrats, championed a “partnership for modernization,” in which Germany would supply Russia with technology to modernize its economy—and, ideally, its politics.

These ties help explain Germany’s initial reluctance to impose sanctions after the Russian incursion into Ukraine in 2014. In deciding whether or not to follow the U.S. lead, Merkel faced pressure from powerful lobbyists for German industry, led by the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, who argued that sanctions would badly undermine the German economy. In a show of support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Joe Kaeser, the CEO of Siemens, visited the Russian leader at his residence outside Moscow just after the annexation of Crimea. Kaeser assured Putin that his company, which had conducted business in Russia for roughly 160 years, would not let “short-term turbulence”—his characterization of the crisis—affect its relationship with the country. In an editorial in the Financial Times in May, the director general of the Federation of German Industries, Markus Kerber, wrote that German businesses would support sanctions but would do so “with a heavy heart.”

Germany’s heavy dependence on Russian energy also caused Berlin to shy away from sanctions. After the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, Germany decided to phase out nuclear power sooner than planned, which made the country increasingly dependent on Russian gas. By 2013, Russian companies provided roughly 38 percent of Germany’s oil and 36 percent of its gas. Although Germany could diversify away from Russian gas by finding alternative sources of energy, such a process would likely take decades. In the short term, therefore, Germany has been reluctant to antagonize Russia.

For her support of sanctions, Merkel has faced pushback not just from industry but also from the German public. Although some in the United States and in other European countries have accused the German government of going too easy on Russia, many within Germany have felt that their government is acting too aggressively. When the German journalist Bernd Ulrich called for tougher action against Putin, for example, he found himself inundated with hate mail that accused him of warmongering. Even Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s foreign minister, long perceived to be sympathetic to Russia, has faced similar accusations. The National Security Agency spying revelations only increased sympathy for Russia. As Ulrich put it in April 2014, “When the Russian president says he feels oppressed by the West, many here think, ‘So do we.’”

That type of identification with Russia has deep historical roots. In 1918, the German writer Thomas Mann published a book, Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man, in which he argued that German culture was distinct from—and superior to—the cultures of other Western nations, such as France and the United Kingdom. German culture, he argued, fell somewhere between Russian culture and the cultures of the rest of Europe. That idea has experienced a dramatic resurgence in recent months. Writing in Der Spiegel in April 2014, Winkler, the historian, criticized the so-called Russlandversteher, Germans who express support for Russia, for repopularizing “the myth of a connection between the souls of Russia and Germany.”

In crafting a response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, then, Merkel had to walk a fine line. She sought to keep open the possibility of a political solution for as long as possible, spending hours on the phone with Putin and sending Steinmeier to help mediate between Moscow and Kiev. It was only after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down on July 17, 2014, allegedly by pro-Russian separatists, that German officials felt comfortable adopting a tougher stance. Even then, public support for sanctions remained tepid. An August poll by the ARD found that 70 percent of Germans supported Europe’s second round of sanctions against Russia, which included banning visas for and freezing the assets of a list of prominent Russian businesspeople. But only 49 percent said that they would continue to back sanctions even if they hurt the German economy—as the third round of sanctions likely will.

Popular support for sanctions could slip further if Germany goes into recession, as many analysts say it might. Although German businesses have reluctantly accepted the sanctions, they have continued to lobby Merkel to ease them. And even as its economic efforts come under threat, Germany has made it clear that military options are not on the table. Ahead of the NATO summit in Wales in September, Merkel opposed plans for the alliance to establish a permanent presence in eastern Europe, which she argued would violate the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act. Put simply, Germany may not have the stamina for a policy of containment toward Russia.


Germany has also grown closer to China, an even more significant harbinger of a post-Western German foreign policy. As it has with Russia, Germany has benefited from increasingly close economic ties with China. In the past decade, German exports there have grown exponentially. By 2013, they added up to $84 billion, almost double the value of German exports to Russia. Indeed, China has become the second-largest market for German exports outside the EU, and it may soon overtake the United States as the largest. China is already the biggest market for Volkswagen—Germany’s largest automaker—and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

The relationship between Germany and China grew only stronger after the 2008 financial crisis, when the two countries found themselves on the same side in debates about the global economy. Both have exerted deflationary pressure on their trading partners, criticized the U.S. policy of quantitative easing, and resisted calls from the United States to take action to rectify macroeconomic imbalances in the global economy. Germany and China have, simultaneously, become closer politically. In 2011, the two countries began holding an annual government-to-government consultation—in effect, a joint cabinet meeting. The event marked the first time that China had conducted such a broad-based negotiation with another country.

For Germany, the relationship is primarily economic, but for China, which wants a strong Europe to counterbalance the United States, it is also strategic. China may see Germany as the key to getting the kind of Europe it wants, partly because Germany appears to be increasingly powerful within Europe but perhaps also because German preferences seem closer to its own than do those of other EU member states, such as France and the United Kingdom.

The tighter Berlin-Beijing nexus comes as the United States adopts a tougher approach to China as part of its so-called pivot to Asia—and it could pose a major problem for the West. If the United States found itself in conflict with China over economic or security issues—if there were an Asian Crimea, for instance—there is a real possibility that Germany would remain neutral. Some German diplomats in China have already begun to distance themselves from the West. In 2012, for example, the German ambassador to China, Michael Schaefer, said in an interview, “I don’t think there is such a thing as the West anymore.” Given their increasing dependence on China as an export market, German businesses would be even more opposed to the imposition of sanctions on China than on Russia. The German government would likely be even more reluctant to take tough action than it has been during the Ukraine crisis, which would create even greater rifts within Europe and between Europe and the United States.


Fears of German neutrality are not new. In the early 1970s, Henry Kissinger, then the U.S. national security adviser, warned that West Germany’s Ostpolitik could play into the hands of the Soviet Union and threaten transatlantic unity. He argued that closer economic ties with the Soviet Union would increase Europe’s dependence on its eastern neighbor, thereby undermining the West. The danger Kissinger foresaw was not so much that West Germany might leave NATO but, as he put it in his memoir, that it might “avoid controversies outside of Europe even when they affected fundamental security interests.” Fortunately for Washington, the Cold War kept such impulses in check, as West Germany relied on the United States for protection against the Soviet Union.

Now, however, Germany finds itself in a more central and stronger position in Europe. During the Cold War, West Germany was a weak state on the fringes of what became the EU, but the reunified Germany is now one of the strongest—if not the strongest—power in the union. Given that position, a post-Western Germany could take much of the rest of Europe with it, particularly those central and eastern European countries with economies that are deeply intertwined with Germany’s. If the United Kingdom leaves the EU, as it is now debating, the union will be even more likely to follow German preferences, especially as they pertain to Russia and China. In that event, Europe could find itself at odds with the United States—and the West could suffer a schism from which it might never recover.


Algunos comentarios de los lectores:

kofiallstar • 2 months ago

Obviously we did not get rid off the soviet dictatorship to see our citizens and businesses spied upon by our closest allies. The unnecessary expansionist confrontation with russia, disrespect of us internet companies for our privacy and legal order, the unbearable polemics against the schröder government and the double standards, the financing of islamophob extremists and the cratering of aaa assets in the us by misregulation, all this shows the loss of confidence in times where eu and us should move to even closer integration across the Atlantic.

Patrick Elder • 2 months ago

Despite Germany's outsized influence in the EU, fears over a schism between the entirety of Europe and the US are overstated. The EU, even in the case of the UK leaving, would still have France (at least as long as the far-right doesn't take control) to counterbalance. Not to mention Poland, Sweden, Finland, and the Baltic states, all of whom would take a helluva lot of convincing to get to move closer to Russia.

El_Al • 2 months ago

Kundnani is not that fluent in german as over 95% of his articles where written in english - besides his Oxford education and Journalistic jobs for the Guardian and other british newspapers. He never was a journalist for FAZ, NZZ, Sueddeutsche, Zeit which are the leading german speaking newspapers. He's selling an old Uk-US idea that Germany abandons Western Eruope for Russia. That idea was wrong in 1970 when the new "Ostpolitik" started and is wrong 2014. German companies would be stupied to neglect 170 Mio customers in Russia, Belarus and Kazahkstan. US and british companies are not that good in those markets. NATO relies over 80% on Germany. Countries like Poland are not that heavy counterparts you would assume. Germany saved now twice a big Energiy crisis with their pipeline politic - first in 1974 and now in 2006 with the North-Stream Pipeline. Without, Europe would face far bigger troubles. Norway and british Gas deliveries will be near collaps in few months as they are the most expensive ones.

FERENC KONCZ • 2 months ago

Without claiming that I understand the hidden intricacies of global politics, I believe that this well written article brings to the reader's attention many valid points that seem to indicate that Germany is trying to ballance its position between (1) the power struggles of two Empires (US and Russia), (2) the intricacies of the intra-european power struggles, (3) asserting its various economical interest and (4) its energy needs.

The Westphalian principles of diplomacy drove European societies to maintain a ballance of powers that gave no one single entity exclusive hegemony. Each time that one of the powers of the larger European region (Austrian, British, German, French, Spanish or Russian Empires) was on its way to become too strong, the other powers moved to alliances against it.

Every major power in the World (US, United Kingdom, China, Japan, India, etc) tries to play the same game.

Unfortunately, the writer seems to be driven by certain simplistic apriori assumptions that lead his well presented paper to simplistic and probably incorrect conclusions: "In that event, Europe could find itself at odds with the United States—and the West could suffer a schism from which it might never recover.”

Come on… really?

Baba Yaga • 8 days ago

Suddenly, Russian aggression threatened the European security order that Germany had taken for granted since the end of the Cold War.

"Taken for granted" was the idea that the US could use its (in the longer run, temporary) economic dominance to march its system eastward, using a fake "uprising" -- the Ukrainian putsch -- to work its will.

Putin's response has been crude and stupid, but the origin of this crisis is American arrogance, neocon insanity and George Soros' money.

Sending weapons to the western Ukrainian forces (in a sense, Ukraine is only somewhat more "real" than Syria) will draw a violent response.

BTW, this conflict is not the first outbreak of war in Europe since the USSR folded -- the American intervention in Serbia was -- creating a Muslim state in Europe -- which is expressing its thanks by sending people to fight in ISIS.

Unless and until the US stops its delusional idea that it's the world's "leader," more and more of these dangerous situations will arise.

JOSEPH LARSON • 24 days ago

Germany certainly is less dependent on its Western allies than it was during the Cold War, but this article grossly exaggerates the extent. The majority of Germany's export volume is absorbed by other EU members; the United States is the largest trading partner of the EU (and a major trading partner of Germany by extension). While Germany no longer has a potential military adversary on its border, it still has very little to gain and a lot to lose from leaving NATO. The author also doesn't mention that a sizeable proportion of the political class and at-large populace would like to see Germany take on a stronger role within NATO, not a lesser one.

Zuiderzee • 2 months ago

I have read the article assuming its purpose is to challenge existing thoughts. In that sense, it is succesful. Germany will have a major the regional politics. However, I do not agree that Germany decides if "Europe" will be with or seperated from the West. Foreign policy is still very much a souvereign matter of European states. Only on major crisis it seems to have had a more coherent policy. Outside of that, European nations act very much alone or in shared interest groups. This is of course due to the divergence of interest.

Germany will decide for itself and with that, it can decide whether Europe has a more coherent foreign policy or not. So far, my impression in that Angela Merkel has chosen more strongly for Europe. This can be seen in the foreign policy swing after MH17.

One thing is however clear to me. The foreign policy of the UK and Germany seem to be opposing each other on critical areas. Most prominently the relation to the US. This will creat significant issues going forward.

4 comentarios:

  1. Hacer hincapié en Alemania es un error. Alemania no tiene soberanía como no la tiene ningún país de Europa. La única diferencia es que Alemania es un poco más rica que los demás países, pero esto no quiere decir que tenga soberanía.

    El protagonismo actual de Merkel no indica la actividad soberana de su país sino su acorralamiento por las presiones que los poderes globalistas a predominio angloamericanos le hacen para legitimar y avalar políticamente sus propias estrategias.

    En todo caso, el temor que trasunta el artículo es que, por la activación de cierta conciencia ciudadana, Alemania inicie un camino soberano y se libere de esos poderes globalistas.

    Alemania no es la explotadora de Grecia ni la estratega autónoma de los recientes acuerdos con Rusia sobre Ucrania. Es un país que carece de soberanía monetaria y financiera y se ha perjudicado a sí mismo, como los otros países europeos, por haber avalado las sanciones contra Rusia. Que tenga más productividad y tecnología que los otros países no significa que imponga nada. En términos cualitativos es tan víctima de la dominación imperial como cualquier otro país. Puede haber alguna diferencia en términos cuantitativos en virtud del grado de desarrollo de Alemania en relación al resto.

    Hay que hacer hincapié en los poderes oligárquicos globales que son los que colonizan y condicionan a los países y Estados. El hecho de que estos poderes sean menos visibles no los hace menos protagónicos.

    En esta perspectiva, los problemas no son los comportamientos individualmente considerados de los diversos países (Alemania, Ucrania, Grecia, etc.), sino los de un sistema imperial financiera y monetariamente en desintegración y cuya gestión por la RF en USA y la troika en Europa no garantiza ninguna salida estratégica más que al precio de una guerra general o mundial.

  2. Estoy de acuerdo con vos, pero con matices. Yo diría que Alemania, como el resto de Europa, mantienen un grado muy limitado de soberanía, en muchos aspectos rayano en la servidumbre (fijate en mi post anterior). Dicha servidumbre no obedece sólo a los "poderes globalistas" sino también, muy concretamente, al hecho (usualmente poco mencionado por la prensa) de que es un país todavía ocupado militarmente por los EEUU: todavía hay, en 19 bases del sur de Alemania, alrededor de 40.000 soldados estadounidenses. (Alemania es el segundo país del mundo en presencia militar estadounidense, siendo superado sólo por Japón, con casi 50.000 soldados de ese país). Además, persisten alrededor de veinte bombas nucleares en manos estadounidenses en tierra alemana, sobre un total de 200 que había allí en el climax de la Guerra Fría. En síntesis, la presión es concreta, los márgenes de soberanía son estrechos. Eso no quiere decir que no puedan hacer nada. Por ejemplo, financiar y aceptar recibir un 35% de gas natural de origen ruso (el North Stream, la cañería que pasa por el Báltico) debe haber sido un masazo para los estrategas anglosajones. La movida de Minsk 2 realizada conjuntamente por Alemania, Francia, Rusia y Ucrania dejó específicamente afuera a británicos y estadounidenses. Ya sé que Merkel fue, al toque, a detallarle a Obama el resultado de las negociaciones, pero el hecho marca una autonomía impensable hace cinco años. Si, tenés razón al señalar que el protagonismo de Merkel marca el grado de acorralamiento que ejercen los anglosajones, pero también es verdad que por una vez en la vida salieron de la dinámica del amo y del esclavo. ¿Por qué? porque (1) el Imperio declina (y por lo tanto aumentan los grados de autonomía), (2) hay un creciente y generalizado hartazgo, no sólo por parte de los alemanes, del caos global al que estamos sometidos, (3) porque les conviene económicamente la movida eurasiática, (4) porque necesitan los recursos energéticos rusos, (5) porque, a diferencia de los EEUU, todavía tienen un aparato productivo real, tangible (no sólo papel pintado, como vos bien señalás), aparato que puede ser utilizado en el comercio con otras potencias más allá de Europa (165 mil millones de euros anuales en transacciones comerciales alemanas con Rusia y China, (6) porque Alemania mantiene una política exterior relativamente pacifista, al menos en comparación con el resto de la NATO (se negó a bombardear Libia, por ejemplo). (7) Finalmente, porque una eventual asociación eurasiática los mantendría equidistantes de un imperio en desintegración.



  3. oti, lo suyo es muy bueno, ya lo he visto comentando en otros blogs. hágalo pfv mas seguido o cree un blog si es que no lo tiene ya.

    gracias astroboy como siempre por ahorrarnos laburo.

    1. Te agradezco. Prefiero seguir hinchando por aquí o por allá, a ver si se arma alguna discusión interesante.