The Ailing Alliance

At the close of the world war, following Japan’s defeat with the “miracle-weapon”, the United States emerged as the “Superpower”. Previous history has not known a “superpower” only “great powers”. “Superpower” is a word in the singular and “Great Powers” is a plural. The designation describes equals. It suggests an equality shared on a high level, and a relative superiority compared to the club’s non-members.

After Hiroshima, the USA accomplished what no entity has achieved in history. It was the ability to assert total global control due to a capacity to totally destroy any foe regardless of his location. Accordingly, had America been willing to exploit her means, she needed no allies. The determined use of the nuclear monopoly against rivals would have guaranteed her continued world supremacy.

Instead of securing her hegemony, the USA strived to stick to her wartime allies. American preponderance did not become despotic American dominance. Not the resistance of others, but the country’s traditions and her internal order explain the matter. Only once Moscow invalidated the assumptions of cooperative coexistence, did Washington respond with new defensive associations of like-minded nations.
Here two unique features stand out. One is that the nuclear monopoly remained unexploited. Throughout, the US has not only been a benign power, she was also a well-meaning superpower. The other is that, the alliances sustained the autonomy of their lesser members and did not degrade them to satellites. The United Nations are an expression of the desire for political collective security -instead of a power-based one. Even more, NATO-like constructions illustrate the preference for collective security over unilateral dominance.

From the outset, NATO has been a compact of inequal components. Reflecting her size, and a favorable geography, the US carried more than her share of the common burden. In doing so, the sovereignty of the small members was preserved; their individual and collective influence had been notably greater than their contribution to the common cause. Quite amazing, if we consider precedents. The more so as, although America had an interest in the survival of a democratic Europe, her existence, unlike that of her allies, did not depend of the treaties.

At present, the NATO alliance, reflecting developments within the European Union -her political analogy- is undergoing a realignment. NATO, the EU, and the transatlantic relationship are being rattled by quakes. The likely upshot will not be dissolution but a reemergence in an altered form.

The upheavals within the Atlantic Alliance (AA) exceed the space of an article. The migration crisis comes to mind, then the 2019 EU elections’ likely outcome stands out because it will remove its hither managers. Here, however, the focus is to be on Germany’s internal order and its international ramifications.
Germany is the AA’s key continental European pillar. Alas, the country’s foreign policy suffers from irrational impulses. These undermine the effort to purse her national interest while they also destabilize the alliance.

Post-war Germany’s enjoyed guaranteed security; an economic success resulted. That created ample means to finance projects that range from the sensible to the fanciful. This ability amplified the desire to recast the atonement seeking country in a new role and to reset her national history. Accordingly, Germans preferred to be known as “Europeans” and not as “Germans”, an endeavor that responded to two factors. One, Germans wished to prove that they had separated from their nation’s past. Two, a need to compensate the victims of brutality committed in the name of all Germans was to be acted upon. Both goals influence traditional parties. It is a part of this self-cleansing that, subconsciously, that nation ignores that the rational conduct of a community’s affairs demands that the national interest be acted upon. Alas, the admission that there is a national interest, is suspect. Acknowledging it and that is to be defended, provokes illogical associations. It makes “national interest” equal “chauvinism”, that then passes through “aggression” before it ends with “Nazi”.

This extrapolation explains why Germany, given the view of her political class, is an unstable ally. Any entity that holds that its defense is morally wrong is a factor of instability. The complexes that reflect the guilt of antecedents, explain why Germany hides behind shielding formations. These let her proceed in the shadow of those that feel sufficiently self-confident -or unashamed- to be counted. Berlin’s subservience to Paris, which lacks the means but possesses the conceit, and then the support of “eurocracy”, express the abashed desire to avoid center stage.

Taken as a whole, the German case is not unique for “Old Europe”. It is, if the desire to atone is overlooked, an example of an ideology-bound, welfare-state oriented, and illusion-driven, moral posturing that prefers to avoid the pursuit of the possible.
These complexes filter the world through the favorite colors of the Left-Green-tinted ruling elite. On the path towards “moral world-championship”, the prevailing illusion is that security and independence are a natural condition that is to be had for bribes that cheer third-world dictators. Such moralizing might conform to the consensus of the political class. However, denying the world as it is, will not alter its features.

The virulent rejection of whatever Trump says or undertakes, does not constitute a realistic rebuff of POTUS’ measures, hair style, or tweeting. What we get is a reaction to a challenge to the managers of the common veal. It comes from new formations of which Trump is a part without being unique in the context of the “New Europe”.
The confused reaction of the embattled political class is exemplified by its rebuke of two leaders perceived as threats to its ability to “continue as before”. Hungary’s Premier Orbán – “Trump before Trump” (Bannon) – is a founding member of “New Europe”. More Orbáns are in the pipeline that passes through “Old Europe”. While the PM’s policies are copied under the duress of masses that “desert” their “leaders”, he shares with the President the charge of undermining the world’s order.

Note this regarding the “Trump factor”: Contested “Old Europe” does not like -has never liked- the protector it needs. Yet, it is unwilling to fend for itself, while it cheers as a symbol of virtue, its inability to have much to offer in the bare knuckles area. Except for the US, it is unlikely to find a protector that that will not exploit it.

“America First” appears to be the statement of the obvious; a government’s task is to put the community’s enlightened interest first. Even MAGA does not imply an intention to devastate others. In fact, the cause of fruitful negotiation is furthered if its parties are aware of their own interests and cognizant of those of their opposites.

Threatened by coming votes, the EU’s traditional components, especially Germany, have reason to assert that, as Merkel put it, “there is no alternative” to the elite’s course. The responding “Alternative for Germany” party (AfD) is gaining and matches the governing coalition’s socialist participant. The result is dogged resistance to the foreseen bitter end. As a socialist foreign policy-maker put it “The public expects us to respond to (Trump’s) constant provocations. We have to redefine our relationship to the USA” and need to support those there that wish to hold on to the traditional relationship”. This is followed by protesting that America intends to strengthen “conservative forces” -of the kind that already govern the “New Europe”.

Let the word “redefine” be picked out of the cacophony of an ailing alliance’s controversies. Indeed, a redefinition might be called for. Without abandoning the traditional framework of the AA, it is warranted that, responding to the facts, old policies be remodeled. America’s national interest is to have allies determined to engage in their own behalf. These are located in what has been called here the “New Europe”, consisting of the V4, (Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary,) the Baltic states, then Austria, probably Britain, Switzerland, and soon, Italy. This growing fraction within the Alliance deserves bilaterally expressed supportive recognition that will help to widen its sway.

A new world order is emerging and some countries are sufficiently far-sighted to pursue policies that fit and make the trend. In the pursuit of the same goal, America needs not to feel isolated – if only its internal party-politics will allow it to head the process. That is one of the stakes of the coming mid-terms.

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