Recently Henry Kissinger was asked could it be that Donald Trump would become an involuntary obstetrician at the birth of the renewed West. Kissinger replied that this, of course, is ironic, but it cannot be ruled out. So, instead of watching the new escapades of the American president over the Atlantic, we should adopt the idea of renewing the West.
Of course, we hear what the Twitter is transmitting day after day across the Atlantic. But a narrow look only at the Oval Office distracts us from the fact that America is more than Trump. "The checks and balances" work, which is almost daily demonstrated by the American courts and the Congress. Americans once again passionately discuss politics. And this is also America in 2018.
The fact that the Atlantic has become wider from a political point of view, by no means can be explained by the actions of only Trump. The USA and Europe have been drifting in different directions for several years now. The similarity of values and interests, making a two-generation imprint on our relationships, is weakening.
The unifying power of the conflict between East and West has remained in history. These changes began long before Trump's election and will continue long after his presidency. Therefore, I am skeptical of the advice of some ardent supporters of the transatlantic partnership, that we should just wait this presidency to finish.
Partnership with the United Statesafter the end of World War II gave Germany a unique period of peace and security. America was a dream country then. Including for me, when I graduated from high school listening to the Bruce Springsteen and the "New York trilogy" of Paul Oster, for several months traveling across the America between New York and Los Angeles.
But looking back will not lead to the future. It's time to rebuild our partnership - not to leave it behind, but to update and preserve.
As a construction plan, we will benefit from the idea of a balanced partnership in which we will assume a certain share of responsibility. In which we will play the role of a counterweight in cases where the United States will cross the red line. In which we will use our influence in situations when America will back down. And in which we will again conduct a dialogue with each other.
Alone, we can not cope with this task. Therefore, the main task of our foreign policy is to create a sovereign, strong Europe. Only shoulder to shoulder with France and other European countries we will be able to establish a balance in relations with the United States.
The European Union must become a reliable pillar of the international order, a partner for all who share the principles of this order. This is one of the EU's destinations. The idea of combining and establishing a balance of interests is embedded in its DNA.
The concept of Europe United means that we will unite our efforts where individual national states are no longer able to find the forces that a united Europe can develop. We are not fenced off by a wall from the rest of the world, we do not demand unconditional submission. Europe relies on the power of law, on respect for the weaker and on the belief that international cooperation is not a game in which if some win, others lose.
A balanced partnership also assumes that we Europeans will take on a certain part of the responsibility. There is no other sphere in which the transatlantic ties for us would be as indispensable as in the field of security. We need the US as a partner in NATO, as well as to fight terrorism.
From this we must draw the right conclusions. It is in our own interests to strengthen the European component of the North Atlantic alliance. And not because Donald Trump requires us to meet the new percentage of defense spending, but because we can no longer rely on Washington to the same extent as before.
But the dialectic of transatlantic partnership implies that if we take on more responsibility, we thereby ensure that Americans and Europeans can also rely on each other in the future.
The federal government is following this path. The main benchmark in defense spending is reality. Now our task is to step by step create the European Union of Security and Defense as an integral part of the transatlantic security system and as our own European project of the future. Only with this prospect the increase in defense and security spending does make sense.
And one more point is crucial: the active actions of Europe must be subordinated to logic that relies on diplomacy and civil crisis management. In the Middle East, the Horn of Africa or the Sahel, we are also fighting by civilian means against the collapse of state structures. For me, all these are examples of transatlantic cooperation and a model for action in crisis situations and at other points.
Where the Americans step over the red line, we, the Europeans, should become a counterweight to them, no matter how hard it may be. And this will also help to establish a balance.
This will begin with the fact that we will expose the fake news as such. For example, if we consider the balance of current transactions between Europe and America not only on the basis of commodity exchange, it turns out that the deficit is not the United States, but Europe. This is explained by the multibillion-dollar profits that European "daughters" of Internet giants Apple, Facebook or Google every year list in the US. If we are talking about honest rules, we should also speak about honest taxation of such profits, about the so-called "digital tax".
Exposing fictitious news is also important because from them a fictitious policy quickly arises. We, Europeans, clearly told Americans that we consider a way out of the nuclear agreement with Iran a mistake. But the first US sanctions have already come into force.
In this situation, it is strategically important to clearly state to Washington: we want to cooperate with you, but we will not allow you to harm us. Therefore, it was right to organize legal protection of European companies from sanctions.
For this reason, we Europeans absolutely need to strengthen the autonomy of Europe, for which it is necessary to create independent payment channels from the US, the European Monetary Fund and the independent Swift system. The devil is in thousands of details. But every day the existence of an agreement with Iran is better than an explosive crisis that threatens the entire Middle East.
A balanced partnership also implies that we Europeans should act more actively where Americans retreat. We are concerned about the cooling of Washington - including in the financial sphere - in relation to the United Nations, and not only because we will meet in the Security Council in the near future.
Of course, we will not shut up all holes. But together with others we can smooth out the most harmful consequences of the way of thinking, according to which success is measured by the amount of saved dollars. Therefore, we have increased funds to support Palestinian refugees and are encouraging Arab countries to help them.
We are striving to create an alliance of multilateralists - a community of partners who, like us, make a bet on binding rules and fair competition. The first agreements have already been reached with Japan, Canada and South Korea, followed by other countried. This union will not be an exclusive club of complacently minded nations.
I dream of an alliance of multilaterally active like-minded people who value cooperation and the power of law. This union will not be directed against someone, it will be an alliance in defense of a multi-lateral order. The door to it will be widely opened - first of all for the USA. The aim of the union will be to jointly solve problems that none of us alone can overcome: from combating climate change to creating a fair trading order.
I do not create illusions about the fact that such an alliance will be able to solve all the problems of the world. But it is not enough to mourn the destruction of the multi-lateral order. We must fight for this order, especially in the situation of transatlantic sphere.
Alliance for Multilateralism
The last point is elementary. We must again start a dialogue with people on the other side of the Atlantic. Not only in New York, Washington or Los Angeles, but also where it is far from the coast, and even further to Europe. In October, for the first time, we are opening the year of Germany in the United States. Not to nostalgically celebrate the German-American friendship, but to organize meetings where people could feel that we are worried about the same issues that we are still very close to each other.
Cultural exchange opens new prospects. I can not forget the meeting that happened just recently during one of my trips. A young American soldier picked up a moment when no one saw us, and whispered to me: "Please, do not abandon America". That is, an American soldier asked the German politician not to throw America in trouble!
The sympathy that was the basis of this request, very touched me. Perhaps we need to get used to the idea that Americans will say such words to us, the Europeans.
In any case, it would be a wonderful irony if Henry Kissinger's words were prophetic, if tweets from the White House contributed to a balanced partnership, a sovereign Europe and a multilater alliance. We are working hard on this.
Read original article at Handelsblatt