Germany is preparing to roll out its new foreign policy towards the US.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas announced that his country will unveil Berlin’s new approach shortly but said that it would be “balanced” and seek to “strengthen the autonomy and sovereignty of Europe in trade, economic and financial policies” out of concern that the Trump Administration’s sanctions policies are endangering the country’s interests with its Russian, Chinese, and Turkish partners. He also published an article last week where he said that the EU will consider creating an independent payment system for evading the US’ unilateral economic restrictions, which would in practice greatly contribute to de-dollarization if it was successfully achieved. It might appear as though Germany is preparing to bravely defy the US and take a principled stand for multipolarity, but the reality is a lot more nuanced.
The emerging Multipolar World Order would certainly benefit if Berlin is able to pull off what it’s planning, but no one should be under any illusions about why Germany is doing this. Its ideological struggle with the US is due to Trump radically departing from his predecessors’ Liberal-Globalist goals and reorienting America as best as he can towards a nation-centric model of International Relations that’s considered by his team to be the best way for the US to adapt to some of the irreversible manifestations of multipolarity such as the emergence of influential Great Powers. Instead of indefinitely subsidizing the US’ vassal states through lopsided trade and military arrangements, Trump’s position is to coerce them all into sharing the burden of upholding a moderately reformed but nevertheless American-led international order.
The systemic transition that’s currently taking place is producing unparalleled paradigm shifts throughout every domain imaginable, which is in turn triggering a fierce competition for influence across the world even between ostensible allies like the US and Germany. Berlin, to its credit, continues to remain committed to the Nord Stream II project that will makes it a partial stakeholder in the success of Moscow’s multipolar initiatives, though at the same time, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Germany is also competing with Russia in some respects too, most notably in Ukraine. For as much as Maas wants to use the polarizing personality of the American President to paint his country as a victim, it was nevertheless a willing collaborator when it came to EuroMaidan and continuing to support the Kiev government.
Some geopolitical determinants of foreign policy such as those that are driving Germany’s strategy towards Ukraine may not change, or at least not as quickly as others are in this sense, but that doesn’t prevent Berlin from breaking with the US in other spheres such as the interlinked trade, economic, and financial ones and therefore advancing some of the shared structural objectives of its Russian, Chinese, and Turkish partners. That said, for as optimistic as some observers might be about its telegraphed moves, one shouldn’t take their success for granted because there are many ways that the US could influence Germany in order to slow down, co-opt, or sabotage these initiatives. Therefore, Germany’s new foreign policy towards the US should be welcomed as a signal of pragmatic intent but not yet interpreted as anything game-changing.