Wednesday, April 9, 2014



Since she won the 100 Years War, Germany has attained her spot as Europa's hegemonic dominant power - in cash, muscle, brains and trade.

As a demarcation of sorts betwixt West und Ost, her hook up with the West - Westbindung or Westintegration may seem old school...

Because Germany, Europe's largest, strongest, and most centrally located nation, is not instinctively Western in its political traditions and leanings. The geographic and political key to the old world is still tormented by its own past, obsessively fearful of conflict with Russia, and doubt-ridden over the modern Western capitalist society that has given the country two generations of unprecedented stability and well-being.

Distrust vis-à-vis the Kremlin is high, and there are no illusions about the nature of the regime in Moscow, as a recent poll by Germany's leading news outlet has confirmed. Eighty-one percent of those asked believed that Russia is not a trustworthy partner.

But 58 percent thought the same about the United States. It comes as no surprise, then, that in another poll by the same outlet, 49 percent of Germans stated that their desired political position is equidistance between the West and Russia. Only 45 percent believed that Germany should be firmly embedded in the West.

None of this would matter much if it were the mindset of a smallish country on the fringes of Europe. But when it's the big fat thing in the middle of the continent that harbors these leanings, it becomes a geopolitical issue of some consequence.

Moscow's aim is to de facto neutralize Germany despite its integration into the West.

These efforts have never been fully successful. But they have been successful enough to make Germany an often wobbly ally and to spread uncertainty and fear, especially among Central European countries, most notably Poland. The Kremlin knows full well that uncertainty and fear are the very ingredients that, if nurtured for long enough, will poison every relationship and even the strongest alliance.

German Westbindung traditionally comes through four channels: the special relationship with the United States; friendship with France; membership in the EU; and membership in NATO. All four sources are in trouble. The United States is distrusted, France is no longer taken seriously, the EU is seen as an economic liability, and NATO is often forgotten about. NATO is also the irritating reminder that there are such things out there as armies and wars.

Deutschland has become increasingly clear since the late 1990s that Germany is willing to go it alone on occasion, and even undermine shared Western positions. Examples range from trade with China to military intervention in Libya to energy policy vis-à-vis Russia. That temptation is visible even in the current Ukraine crisis, although Chancellor Angela Merkel has stood firm against the stated skepticism of the German public.

Germany's strategic folly is not that it wants to go East. It doesn't. Nor does it want to destroy NATO or transatlantic solidarity. Its strategic folly is that by following some of its lingering anti-Western sentiments, and by giving in to its desire for neutrality, it might do all of this unintentionally.

Yet Germans must understand that for the largest country in the center of Europe, neutrality is not an option. By wanting to be unaffiliated, Germany would tragically destroy the very world it needs to prosper and enjoy the fruits of its enormous achievements. German strategic haplessness is just as dangerous as German aggressiveness. The latter is history. The former, unfortunately, is not.

Pic - "Defeated twice militarily, now she ist der seig mein schatzen!!"