Merkel Draws the Line Against Trump

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has turned the corner on relations with the United States. Her speech at the Munich Security Conference should be considered Germany’s divorce filing from the U.S.-led post-WWII institutional order.

It’s clear that to me now that Merkel’s priorities for what is left of her term in office are as follows:

  1. Carve out an independent path for EU foreign policy from the U.S. through the creation of an EU army, obviating the need for NATO and…
  2. End U.S. occupation of Germany.
  3. Secure Germany’s energy future, which also secures its political future as the leader of the European Union, by stitching together the continent with Russian energy arteries — Nordstream 2, Turkstream.
  4. Manage the shift away from NATO as a controlling force in Europe’s relationship with Russia which doesn’t serve Europe’s long term purposes.

Merkel will play both sides of the game for as long as she can but Trump and his merry band of Neocon psychotics are determined to stop Nordstream 2. They realize pipelines like these represent near permanent connections between Europe and Russia which then deadens Trump’s desire to maintain the empire through controlling the flow and price of energy.

For Trump there are three areas he is pushing Merkel. As I noted in my latest piece for Strategic Culture Foundation:

Trump’s pressuring Germany over the Nordstream 2 pipeline, withdrawing from the JCPOA and increasing NATO funding all have a common theme…
Trump is trying to make Germany’s economy uncompetitive by raising the cost of imported energy.

This is obvious when we look at the US’s opposition to Nordstream 2….

… Ending US involvement in the JCPOA was meant to destroy the agreement and end all European investment in Iran’s energy sector, thereby stopping a steady flow of relatively cheap Iranian oil to Europe through its oil majors like Total (France) and Eni (Italy)…

{Increasing NATO funding} — Germany, in particular, would have to raise defense spending to such a degree that it would be unsustainable for them to maintain their current government funding in other areas.
This will pull capital out of the productive part of German society and lower their competitiveness vis a vis US producers. 

In my interview with Radio Sputnik Moscow recently I made the point that if Germany were to spend two percent of GDP on defense it would represent spending 20% of the annual government budget on defense.

But the numbers are even worse than that.

The German government’s budget in 2018 was just shy of €569 billion. Nominal German GDP was €3677.44 billion, 2 percent of which is €73.54 billion or nearly 15% of the German budget.

Merkel understands that would grind the German government and its economy to a halt. What Trump wants is for Germany to plough its budget surplus (which stood at €59.2 billion in 2018) wholly into defense spending while also maintaining complete control over NATO’s mission.

We pay the lion’s share of NATO’s costs because we receive the lion’s share of the benefits NATO provides. And those benefits are not protecting Europe from the scourge of the evil Russians contrary to the insane fulminations of the laptop bombardiers on K Street.

No, the benefits of NATO exist wholly to weaken Russia and keep Europe from hooking up with its natural ally to the east. And along this vector, Merkel is, for once, acting in Germany’s best interests, but only because they dovetail with the EU’s.

Guys like John Bolton and all of our top brass at the Pentagon lie awake at night fearful most of a German/Russian economic and political alliance. And everything we do is to force Merkel into difficult choices, especially as an occupied country.

The Silence Heard ‘Round the World at Munich during Mike Pence’s speech should be a wake up call to everyone in D.C. that the world as we’ve known it has changed.

And regardless of the future of the European Union as it stands on the edge of political and economic collapse, Germany will command some transnational bloc of countries in the coming years.

Pipelines outlast presidents. Trump is demanding our allies destroy themselves for no tangible benefit to themselves. The threat of Russia is to U.S. hegemony, not Germany’s.

This is why Bolton, Pence and Pompeo were ignored and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was the toast of the conference. Russia has made it very clear it will look east to China, Iran and the rest of Asia if Europe continues to kowtow to the U.S.

This is also why Germany is no longer interested in adding new sanctions on Russia and is now officially looking for new political solutions to the situation. Germany needs new growth opportunities now that a no-deal Brexit is upon them.

This wasn’t that hard to see coming. Last summer’s garden summit between Vladimir Putin and Merkel set the stage for this shift in tone. I said at the time that I felt Trump’s belligerence was pushing Merkel into Putin’s arms.

Merkel, for her part, has been so terminally weakened by her immigration policy and strong-armed approach to dissent that this whirlwind weekender by Putin was as much for her benefit, politically, as his.
The implication being that if Merkel wants to stay in power with her weakening coalition and poll numbers it’s time for her to reverse course. And if that means cozying up to Russia then so be it.
Merkel will continue to talk a good game about Crimea and Ukraine while Putin will speak directly to the German people about ending the humanitarian crisis in Syria as a proxy for ending the threat of further immigration.

Rubber meet road. The times they are a’changin’.

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23 thoughts on “Merkel Draws the Line Against Trump

  1. Merkel is on her way out and she is now responding to the German populace at large. Germany may well pull out of the EU as the Euro is a failed currency and why should Germany have to try to prop up failed states like Greece, Italy and Spain? This also signals an end to unbridled support for US empire aspirations. The situation is simple and yet complicated by a myriad of factors in transitioning to a Eurasian based economy.

  2. My conclusion is the Germans believe their future lies with corcial, mutual relationship with Russia, and it is time for the USA to stop directing Germany’s foreign affairs. The world will be both more prosperous and peaceful as a result.

  3. You struck a point that for some reason reminded me, if you look closely all American (Pure) bases in the EU are in what was considered occupied territories. So, Germany and Italy for the most part. I believe that those base leases are 75 years possibly 99, but for some reason I remember 75. This means that the leases will be expiring in 2020 to 2025. ( You may want to research this )This may be a significant issue for the US in the EU. When the wall came down Bush made a promise that no American troops would be permanently based in Eastern Europe. To date they haven’t, instead they rotations of troops through the area. The deployments are for 6 month periods and are placed in the countries bases. There are no US bases in Eastern Europe other then Camp Bondsteel ( Kosovo 99 year land lease ). Renewing those leases could become excessively expensive.

    Germany could remove the Americans as could the Italians when the time comes if they choose. The question then begs what will it cost the US to stay, or how does the US convince the Allies to they should remain encamped in those countries. (ie: it’s in their interest to keep them there.) Reviving the Russian threat is the most obvious. With Brexit, only France remains a nuclear armed country in the EU (possibly EU army) to counter a Russian threat. I will contend that a re-incarnation of the Charlemagne empire is being formed. Possibly when the EU collapses the PIIGS will be dropped and leaner meaner EU will emerge.

  4. Sorry, this comment is regarding your “In Russia Sometimes Gold Eats You!” video and I don’t do google account so YouTube won’t allow me to leave a message.

    Perhaps Russia will scrap their 20% VAT on Gold in conjunction with the change at the end of March of the Basel accords where Gold goes to a tier 1 asset????

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  6. IMHO Mr. Luongo is missing the forest for the trees. Recall that in 2016 Trump called NATO an “obsolete relic,” which sent the other members into full panic mode since the US defense umbrella makes their welfare states possible. Last year Congress said an emphatic “no” to withdrawal from NATO, so Trump is taking a page from Machiavelli. By denouncing the pipelines and demanding Germany et al. fork over the required 2% of GDP for defense, he is sowing discord in the alliance. If the discord gets much stronger, NATO will collapse from within, while Congress and the Deep State watch helplessly. As an added bonus, Trump could blame the neocons (who hate his guts) for the debacle and send them packing.

    • You would be correct if Trump wasn ‘t Trump. He’s not playing 4-d chess, he’s just being Donald Trump. I used to think like this…. no more.

      • Trump certainly is “Trump”. Nevertheless, in the position he is in, there is no other way than actually playing 4d-chess. In the game of houses you cannot prevail a day without doing so.

  7. Tom,
    Recheck your numbers. The German gov spent 143 B euro in the 4th quarter 2018 not the whole year. Your link shows the true spending of Approx- 572 B euro for all of 2018.
    Funding Nato at the level agreed to by Germany would amount to 73.5 B euros would be about 7.5% of GDP.

  8. It is hard for the United States to have a consistent foreign policy, despite the efforts of the Deep State or what Rothbard called the power elite, due to the the fact that any particular President can only last a maximum of eight years. Trump’s behavior and his conflict with the deep state in addition to the US being broke and grubbing for money is causing US foreign policy to me more erratic than usual.

    At this point it is not surprise the Merkel and the leaders of other nations are starting to see Russia as a far more reliable ally than the United States. Putin is counting on this. If there is a better geopolitical operator on the stage than Putin then I would like to know who it is. Putin, for better or worse, is the one playing 4-D chess.

    • Yes Galen. That is definitely part of the dynamic at play here. Merkel invoking the USSR being a reliable gas supplier during the Cold War makes that point

  9. I strongly doubt that Merkel wants to do those things.

    How would she go about ending U.S. occupation in germany? Germans are so brain washed, most of them believe it’s an independent country. The B.R.D. is an administration that was issued by the Allies against the Germany of the 3rd Reich. The highest german court stated that the B.R.D. is not the legal successor of the German Reich (which is not the 3rd Reich btw.), but that it continues to exist. This, and considering that the Treaty of Versailles is not peace treaty, makes it virtually impossible, because they would first make people aware of what the reality actually is, fix all the problems that arose because of those lies (like any contract with the BRD, but much much more, think of anything requiring legal legitimation), and then avoid their anger of having been lied to for decades. Who knows what the populace would actually do, perhaps come up with their own constitution (note, germany does not have a constitution, but a law of superposition, which the creators precisely stated, that the people would at some point have to replace with a proper constitution). If AT ALL, Merkel is trying to decouple the _EU_ from the U.S. Also, the Merkel regime was in bed with the liberal U.S. politicians. Look at germanys politic (especially social and green politics) over the last decades and find it all in the U.S. liberals green new deal. Merkel has no quarrel with the U.S. – Merkel quarrels with Localists like Trump. It’s not east vs west, it is national vs global.

    “Germany” does not exist, nor has ever existed. If anything, that is the name for the company administering this garrison.

    There are several issues with believing “Germany” actually is a country:

    1) the German Emperor never resigned. He fled. He never surrendered his title to the land, nor did anybody EVER rightfully, that is by (any) law, take that title from him. So the Republic of Weimar does not yield any rights of existence. And neither it, nor anybody else, since acquired those rights in any way.
    2) Hitler never lawfully took regiment of the “country” Republic of Weimar – or any part of the German Reich. So, the germany of the 3rd Reich has no lawful base of existence either. But it would not in any case, for the reasons stated in 1)
    3) “Germany”, as in the 3rd Reich, never surrendered in WWII. The german armed forced did surrender, not the governing body. That is quite important as, “Germany” did not get conquered, or whatever. All that was done, was to install a law of superposition – a Grundgesetz – which people nowadays believe to be a constitution, which is the usual thing to do to the loosing country, until the interim government can get replaced by a proper one. As a side note: millions of surrendered armed force have been murdered by Churchill in camps. He conveniently went around the Geneva Convention by coining them “unarmed combatants”, as opposed to surrendered opposition. Never wondered why countries are not declaring wars any longer? Because there is no need to declare war if one is partaking in a war already. WWII never ended, as the war parties never discussed the terms for it to end, in a peace treaty. The Treaty of Versailles is not a peace treaty. Another lie that would’ve to be remedied before “Germany” could become souvereign again, since that treaty is still valid and governs not only germany, but the whole world via the UN, which incidentally was founded as organisation dealing with the loosing nations of WWII. Kind of funny, how Germany is member of the UN, but still affected by the UN Charter’s Enemy State Clause.
    4) Even if the B.R.D. was a souvereign country: “Germany”, as is is not build upon strong lawful foundations, as the “constitution” (Grundgesetz – law of superposition) was changed in 1990 one day before East- and West-Germany “merged”, to reflect the merge, but at the same time the merge could not rightfully take place, as the changes made refuted the legality of the merge. This is off the top of my head. In any case, the merge of “East-Germany” and “West-Germany” (which are not the proper names for those “countries”, like “Germany” is not the name of the (non-)”country” it currently is) was not valid, even if everything else so far would’ve been great. So, according to old valid laws, I’d be german, as I am prussian by heritage – but I am also GERMAN (all capital) according to the Grundgesetz (i.e. resident of what is currently known as BRD). My turkish collegue, who could’ve aquired BRD german citizenship, would only be BRD citizen – but could never in his life become German by heritage. Note, that BRD laws do not pertain to non-BRD germans.
    5) The Grundgesetz (law of superposition” states, for example, that “german is he(she) who, according to this law, is german citizen”. Interestingly, some other laws, while determining as to who is german, refer to the old Kaiser-Reich laws, that omits the “according to this law”, and states that german is, who was born in one of the german states (Sachsen, Bayern, etc.) Apparently, that law is still valid, otherwise it could not get cited by another, state law. So, why did they add this “according to THIS law” appendage? Because they had to distinguish it, and who is German according to this law, from other existing applicable law and it’s terminology. Basically, they repainted the term “German” using their supposed “constitution”, but neither is true.
    6) Pretty much every politician would have to know the above, at least in some way or another, since to do certain things as a politician, one needs to own a “yellow certificate” (Gelber Schein), that notes that that person is actually truly “German – according to the law of superposition” – because our national ID papers, even the passports – are not fit to do that. Italy requires you to have that kind of proof of citicenship before marrying a native italian (i.e. a german marrying an italian ofc.)

    So, I doubt that Merkel is shying away from the ‘mericas, but rather that she is shying away from the conservative forces, which are the natural adversary of neo-liberal/neo-marxists. If Hillary would’ve won, Merkel would be all in. Did’nt you know that Merkel was a high ranking east german STASI (“state security” as in secret forces) agent? Google “IM Erika”.

    As to securing germanys energy future: Merkel, and the neo-liberal parties (all old parties), destroyed germanys energy future by getting rid of our atomar plants – and now trying to get rid of our coal plants. The BRD is trying to hold its head above water, since alternative energy ouput does fluctuate a lot. Currently we buy expensive energy from other countries, partly created using old, worse atomar reactors than we have shut down, and even then we barily have enough energy to prevent blackouts. They first take off companies off the grid, before having half a city black out – hence, people do not realize it.

  10. Overall a good treatise but I fear it rests on some flawed assumptions. We reap NATO benefits NOW. Because we took the risk, ponied up the money and kept many EU nations from becoming republics of the USSR for 3 decades. I never took you to be one of those people who would look at an individual who took risks, ponied up capital, built something successful and enjoyed the fruits of his labor, and start in with the idiot chorus of ‘greed’, ‘no fair’ and ‘racist’ like we hear so often. How is NATO any different? And it takes all of two seconds to find clips of Trump repeatedly saying we need to end NATO. But somehow you took a trip into his head and found that he actually wants to use NATO to make the entire western world our energy slaves. You also somehow know for a fact that Russia and China have no such plans, despite all the evidence that they do. That doesn’t work for me on any level.

    Look I like you and am mostly on your wavelength. But you have to stop floating ideas in a bubble. It’s fine and encouraged to point out flaws and wrongdoings in US policy. But to act like we’re the only ones doing wrong in the world is just disingenuous. We’re playing the same game everyone is playing. No more dishonestly or aggressively than anyone else. You might be of the opposite opinion but it has no basis in fact. After spending 30+ years defending Europe from The USSR on our dime, the idea of them opening up a Russian pipeline and bailing on us and their debts to us is a rip-off. And suggesting that they do this because Russia is more honest, more fair, more whatever is mostly self delusion. Half the reason we play this power game is because everyone is playing it and has been for 1000 years. So don’t hate the player hate the game. It’s the same with Venezuela. We can leave them alone as you insist. But the idea that Russia and China won’t continue lol try to leverage Venezuelan oil for their pursuit of energy dominance is just childish thinking. China already operates Venezuela’s oil fields. They have for years. We just arrived there last week. If you can’t provide context for your indiscriminate America bashing, you just sound bitter. I believe you are actually informed and have astute positions. But you need to define them better and put them in the proper context. It’s a matter of journalistic integrity. Someone has to preserve it. That person will be the person I am interested in hearing from.

    • 1) I state quite clearly that we benefit from NATO now. It is Trump who doesn’t feel the Europeans are properly genuflecting.

      2) How long should Germany genuflect to the U.S. for ‘protecting them from the USSR’ which died more nearly 20 years ago, and which our bankers (European and American) went in and stole billions from?

      3) Trump’s plan for “Energy Dominance’ is built on a foundation of debt and uncompetitive prices. That’s the problem. Russia should be our ally here not our enemy. Trump chose otherwise, he will reap what he sowed.

      4) When does the Cold War mentality end? Trump are acting just like all late-stage imperial powers, like paranoiacs worried they will lose everything if they lose one battle.

      5) I didn’t float this idea out of nowhere, Trump’s speech from 2017 outlines it. I’ve written about it extensively.

      6) To truly benefit from our ‘investment’ in Europe requires making the world more peaceful, not less. Now please tell me that NATO and the US state dept. starting wars in half a dozen hot spots in and around Russia are making the world safer?
      Only if you believe commerce is a zero-sum game, which makes you a Marxist.

      Because Nordstream 2 is a path to peace and prosperity over time between the Russians and the Germans. And then, by extension, Americans, who don’t toil making 1st order goods to sell to Germany, but late-stage goods like we’ve been. But, no, we need to sell more cars in Germany.

      It’s madness.

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