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AUKUS, the Indo-Pacific, and France’s Role: Fluctuat nec Mergitur

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The announcement of the new AUKUS alliance between Australia, the UK and the U.S. came as a shock for France. Paris has never been consulted, nor notified in advance, despite the historic importance of the deal and the huge implications that it bears for France’s interests, not least the brutal termination of the contract to provide 12 submarines to Canberra. The strong reaction and hot anger of the French Foreign minister Le Drian, denouncing it as a “stab in the back”, is thus quite understandable. The new alliance is indeed a game changer for the Indo-Pacific geopolitics, and beyond. France will have to adapt to this new reality, AUKUS may complicate Paris’ efforts, but its Indo-Pacific strategy and commitment will endure.

A game changer in the Indo-Pacific

The Australian decision to acquire nuclear-propelled submarines and to enter a trilateral alliance proposed by the U.S. and the UK opens a new era in the Indo-Pacific. It reflects a dramatic change in Canberra’s posture vis à vis Beijing in recent years. Australia’s new threat assessment motivated a very politically sensitive decision: to step up its game and move from a middle power to a nearly great power status, by entering the exclusive club of the nuclear-powered submarines holders (China, France, India, Russia, the UK and the U.S.). This choice also deepens Australia’s dependence on Washington for its defense on the long term. At the same time, Canberra will have to wait until at least 2040 to get its first SSN—as compared to 2030 for the French conventional subs. At the same time, the U.S. decision to sell this strategic equipment has created a precedent, with potential implications in terms of proliferation, as countries, such as China, might feel encouraged to sell similar devices to Pakistan or North Korea. As such, this move has destabilizing effects, fueling an arms race already nurtured by China’s formidable military build-up.

Besides, AUKUS marks a turning point in the order transition in the Indo-Pacific. In front of China, the networking of the U.S. alliances and partnerships has been going on for a while, but this new trilateral formation is quite a new story. It is designed to be strong, close, and enduring. The sharing of a key strategic defense equipment, but maybe as important, cooperation in such critical domains as new technologies, AI, quantum and so on, is designed to bind the three partners “for generations”. AUKUS thus becomes the new arrangement around which the U.S. plans to organize its strategy in the Indo-Pacific, in front of China.

The Quad was still too diverse—Japan and India have their own limitations in terms of defense cooperation—but with AUKUS, Washington has found a way to reunite a core group of allies to closely sail on its line and help keeping the upper hand over China. Getting the UK, not an Indo-Pacific power, onboard does not sound like a most relevant choice, but it does make sense if the U.S. prioritizes closeness, interoperability and alignment. The three countries have indeed a long history of close cooperation, not least with the intelligence sharing arrangement of the Five Eyes. AUKUS will thus become the new core around which the U.S. will organize the constellation of its partners to check China. This is certainly bad news for Beijing. At the same time, Beijing will also exploit the AUKUS deal to its advantage, in order to further justify its military moves, which probably means that the security situation in the Indo-Pacific is likely to worsen.

A whiplash for France and Europe

An important turning point in the Indo-Pacific turbulent order, AUKUS is also a blow for France.

First, its relations with Australia are now severely damaged. Back in 2018, President Macron chose to unveil France’s Indo-Pacific strategy at the Garden Island base in Sydney, signaling that Australia would become one of France’s key partners in its endeavor. The submarine contract was a structuring element of the relation, strongly committing the two countries. It has never been a long and calm river, with Paris being very much aware of the difficulties in the implementation of the contract. Nonetheless, Canberra never signaled its new preference for a nuclear-powered option, a solution Naval Group is mastering (whether Paris would have agreed to share this technology is another story). Instead, it went to the U.S. and UK to seek an alternative, without consideration for Paris that is now feeling the burn of deception and duplicity. This comes on top of significant economic losses, with impact on thousands of jobs in France.

The ire is even more acute vis à vis the American ally. Striking the AUKUS deal and accepting to sell SSN to Australia is a pure realpolitik move. The Biden administration has so far demonstrated that its systemic rivalry with China is informing its whole external policy. The frustration of an historic ally seems acceptable when it comes to the core U.S. interests: staying ahead of China and checking it are now clearly one of these.

France’s anger is also reinforced by the seeming inconsistency of the Biden administration’s rhetoric on its allies. In January, Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor, called for a “chorus of voices” in front of China, with the Europeans being the most crucial of U.S. partners. Only the UK has been picked up. France, a leading European power in the Indo-Pacific and a most proactive defender of an Indo-Pacific approach within the EU, has been set aside.

In addition, the unfortunate timing of the AUKUS, the very day the EU published its strategy for the cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, reflects the lack of consideration for the Europeans. In fact, achieving a political consensus among 27 countries that have diverse interests in the Indo-Pacific and enjoy different relations with China is an exceptional achievement that would require tremendous efforts.

In this respect, the U.S. decision is likely to complicate the coordination with the Biden administration on China and the Indo-Pacific, weakening rather than strengthening the democratic front the U.S. aims to build vis à vis Beijing. Some say that the French strategic autonomy has complicated the efforts to set up such a grouping. However, reality is that French and U.S. Indo-Pacific strategies have been working in synergy, with Paris playing the role of a very efficient convening power, able to coordinate with the four Quad countries as well as the ASEAN nations that do not wish to appear as confrontational towards China. Already, the Southeast Asian powers, such as Indonesia or Malaysia, are airing their concern about a new arms race in the region prompted by AUKUS.

Hence, the clumsy AUKUS announcement seems more damaging than French strategic autonomy when it comes to building up solidarity between like-minded partners to face China. Beijing will only be so happy to use this development to try to drive a wedge between them. In the wake of Afghanistan, the widening gap between the U.S. rhetoric on the importance of allies and partners, and the lack of consultation and consideration on important moves only urge the Europeans to accelerate the path towards more strategic autonomy.

At the end of the day, AUKUS questions the very nature of today’s alliances. How should allies behave towards each other? Where should the red lines be? The very fluid geostrategic environment in the Indo-Pacific compels all players to constantly review their choices and adjust their posture to maximize their gains, hedging against risks and protecting their interests. The Indo-Pacific is therefore a fertile ground for flexible arrangements, strategic partnerships, mini-lateral arrangements, issue-based coalitions. The announcement of this new alliance seems to run contrary to this trend. There should be a deep reflection on how to articulate these strategic partnerships and old-style alliances. In addition, the beauty of the “Indo-Pacific” as a geopolitical construct lies in its polymorphic, flexible nature that helps create coalitions of the willing and enable coordination without antagonizing effects. AUKUS should be an agent to foster greater coordination with like-minded countries in the region, not a brake.

France’s Indo-Pacific commitment will endure

France has every reason to be furious and let others know about it. The French diplomacy is indeed strongly showing its deep dissatisfaction and sense of treason towards its allies and partners. This theatrical reaction is also meant to up France’s game to negotiate a proper compensation for its economic loss—and the loss of face. Paris should, however, be careful not to send wrong messages. It makes little sense to put brakes on the discussions towards a EU-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement that will be mutually beneficial, serving to reinforce the EU’s (hence France’s) position in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

Over time, dust will settle, and the partnerships will recover. Australia is an important neighbor to France’s overseas territories in the South Pacific as the two countries, along with New Zealand, are bound by security arrangements to coordinate Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief activities in the area (FRANZ) and monitor IUU fishing. With the U.S., this is the latest major crisis in the transatlantic alliance that has already overcome the moments of frictions dating back to 2003, over the war in Iraq, or 2013, then in Syria. The U.S. (and Australia) will have to work hard to heal the French wounds, as it is in their interest to get France and Europe onboard in the Indo-Pacific.

AUKUS will certainly make life more difficult for Atlanticists and for the proponents of an ambitious French posture in the Indo-Pacific alike. It is strengthening the camp of the skeptics, who have questioned the Indo-Pacific strategy from the start, fearing capacity overstretch and an entrapment in a confrontational U.S. policy towards China.

This said, France’s Indo-Pacific commitment will not weaken, not least because the nation maintains significant sovereign interests in the region. Territories in both the Indian Ocean (Islands of Mayotte and La Réunion) and the Pacific (New Caledonia, French Polynesia…), host some 1.5 million citizens and more than 90% of its large EEZ (9 million km²). France maintains a military presence of 8,000 personnel to take care of this vast area. Therefore, France’s engagement in the Indo-Pacific is not a mere rhetorical posture but a sustained commitment. Besides, some of France’s major trade and security partners are located in the region, while the safety of the maritime routes linking Europe and East Asia is key to its economic security.

Finally, the Indo-Pacific is the primary locus of the Sino-American strategic rivalry that will (with all probability) shape the future world order. France, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, is a capable and responsible stakeholder that has already demonstrated the credibility of its commitment to support a rules-based order and stability in the region. This year alone, Paris sent its nuclear-powered submarine (SSN) in the South China Sea in February, held a quadrilateral France-US-Japan-Australia amphibious exercises in May in a Japanese remote island, led the La Pérouse naval exercise with the four Quad powers in the Indian Ocean and sent Rafale fighters all the way to Polynesia and Hawaii this summer.

After AUKUS, France will step up its efforts to build up a network of middle powers. Japan and India, while welcoming the new alliance, will strive to keep Paris fully engaged in the region, and New Delhi might be interested in a new defense deal. Paris is in good way to sell 36 Rafale fighters to Indonesia and is working on fostering its partnerships with Malaysia, the Philippines and ASEAN, with which a development partnership was inked in March. French and European’s inclusive visions for the Indo-Pacific are convergent with ASEAN’s approach, which may explain why the EU emerged as one of the most trusted partners for these countries.

More importantly, Paris’ Indo-Pacific approach will be resolutely articulated with the EU’s brand-new strategy in the region from now on. The two approaches usefully work in synergy and complement each other. The EU’s strategy has a strong focus on building resilient value chains, especially in semiconductors, including by setting up a deal with Taiwan. Standards setting in trade, digital domains and emerging technologies, “in line with democratic principles”, is one of the priority objectives of the EU. The strategy even mentions “the EU’s interest in engaging with the QUAD on issues of common interest such as climate change, technology or vaccines”. This shows that the EU’s priorities are in line with America’s core concerns and that strategic autonomy is not averse to a necessary and close cooperation with Washington and other key partners in the Indo-Pacific. The EU being a normative superpower and a major economic player, the U.S. will not have the luxury to dismiss it if it really wants to weigh on China’s choices. In the glimpse of the brave new world that AUKUS just unveiled, France and Europe remain significant and relevant players.

From our partner RIAC

Head of Japan Research at the Center for Asian Studies of the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), Paris

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Iceland’s Historic(al) Elections

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The morning of September, 26 was a good one for Lenya Run Karim of the Pirate Party. Once the preliminary results were announced, things were clear: the 21-year-old law student of the University of Iceland, originating from a Kurdish immigrant family, had become the youngest MP in the country’s history.

In historical significance, however, this event was second to another. Iceland, the world champion in terms of gender equality, became the first country in Europe to have more women MPs than men, 33 versus 30. The news immediately made world headlines: only five countries in the world have achieved such impressive results. Remarkably, all are non-European: Rwanda, Nicaragua and Cuba have a majority of women in parliament, while Mexico and the UAE have an equal number of male and female MPs.

Nine hours later, news agencies around the world had to edit their headlines. The recount in the Northwest constituency affected the outcome across the country to delay the ‘triumph for women’ for another four years.

Small numbers, big changes

The Icelandic electoral system is designed so that 54 out of the 63 seats in the Althingi, the national parliament, are primary or constituency seats, while another nine are equalization seats. Only parties passing the 5 per cent threshold are allowed to distribute equalisation seats that go to the candidates who failed to win constituency mandates and received the most votes in their constituency. However, the number of equalisation mandates in each of the 6 constituencies is legislated. In theory, this could lead to a situation in which the leading party candidate in one constituency may simply lack an equalisation mandate, so the leading candidate of the same party—but in another constituency—receives it.

This is what happened this year. Because of a difference of only ten votes between the Reform Party and the Pirate Party, both vying for the only equalisation mandate in the Northwest, the constituency’s electoral commission announced a recount on its own initiative. There were also questions concerning the counting procedure as such: the ballots were not sealed but simply locked in a Borgarnes hotel room. The updated results hardly affected the distribution of seats between the parties, bringing in five new MPs, none of whom were women, with the 21-year-old Lenya Run Karim replaced by her 52-year-old party colleague.

In the afternoon of September, 27, at the request of the Left-Green Movement, supported by the Independence Party, the Pirates and the Reform Party, the commission in the South announced a recount of their own—the difference between the Left-Greens and the Centrists was only seven votes. There was no ‘domino effect’, as in the case of the Northwest, as the five-hour recount showed the same result. Recounts in other districts are unlikely, nor is it likely that Althingi—vested with the power to declare the elections valid—would invalidate the results in the Northwest. Nevertheless, the ‘replaced’ candidates have already announced their intention to appeal against the results, citing violations of ballot storage procedures. Under the Icelandic law, this is quite enough to invalidate the results and call a re-election in the Northwest, as the Supreme Court of Iceland invalidated the Constitutional Council elections due to a breach of procedure 10 years ago. Be that as it may, the current score remains 33:30, in favor of men.

Progressives’ progress and threshold for socialists

On the whole, there were no surprises: the provisional allocation of mandates resembles, if with minor changes, the opinion polls on the eve of the election.

The ruling three-party coalition has rejuvenated its position, winning 37 out of the 63 Althingi seats. The centrist Progressive Party saw a real electoral triumph, improving its 2017 result by five seats. Prime-minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir’s Left-Green Movement, albeit with a slight loss, won eight seats, surpassing all pre-election expectations. Although the centre-right Independence Party outperformed everyone again to win almost a quarter of all votes, 16 seats are one of the worst results of the Icelandic ‘Grand Old Party’ ever.

The results of the Social-Democrats, almost 10% versus 12.1% in 2017, and of the Pirates, 8.6% versus 9.2%, have deteriorated. Support for the Centre Party of Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, former prime-minister and victim of the Panama Papers, has halved from 10.9% to 5.4%. The centrists have seen a steady decline in recent years, largely due to a sexist scandal involving party MPs. The populist People’s Party and the pro-European Reform Party have seen gains of 8.8% and 8.3%, as compared to 6.9% and 6.7% in the previous elections.

Of the leading Icelandic parties, only the Socialist Party failed to pass the 5 per cent threshold: despite a rating above 7% in August, the Socialists received only 4.1% of the vote.

Coronavirus, climate & economy

Healthcare and the fight against COVID-19 was, expectedly, on top of the agenda of the elections: 72% of voters ranked it as the defining issue, according to a Fréttablaðið poll. Thanks to swift and stringent measures, the Icelandic government brought the coronavirus under control from day one, and the country has enjoyed one of the lowest infection rates in the world for most of the time. At the same time, the pandemic exposed a number of problems in the national healthcare system: staff shortages, low salaries and long waiting lists for emergency surgery.

Climate change, which Icelanders are already experiencing, was an equally important topic. This summer, the temperature has not dropped below 20°C for 59 days, an anomaly for a North-Atlantic island. However, Icelanders’ concerns never converted into increased support for the four left-leaning parties advocating greater reductions in CO2 emission than the country has committed to under the Paris Agreement: their combined result fell by 0.5%.

The economy and employment were also among the main issues in this election. The pandemic has severely damaged the island nation’s economy, which is heavily tourism-reliant—perhaps, unsurprisingly, many Icelanders are in favor of reviving the tourism sector as well as diversifying the economy further.

The EU membership, by far a ‘traditional’ issue in Icelandic politics, is unlikely to be featured on the agenda of the newly-elected parliament as the combined result of the Eurosceptics, despite a loss of 4%, still exceeds half of the overall votes. The new Althingi will probably face the issue of constitutional reform once again, which is only becoming more topical in the light of the pandemic and the equalization mandates story.

New (old) government?

The parties are to negotiate coalition formation. The most likely scenario now is that the ruling coalition of the Independence Party, the Left-Greens and the Progressives continues. It has been the most ideologically diverse and the first three-party coalition in Iceland’s history to last a full term. A successful fight against the pandemic has only strengthened its positions and helped it secure additional votes. Independence Party leader and finance minister Bjarni Benediktsson has earlier said he would be prepared to keep the ruling coalition if it holds the majority. President Guðni Jóhannesson announced immediately after the elections that he would confirm the mandate of the ruling coalition to form a new government if the three parties could strike a deal.

Other developments are possible but unlikely. Should the Left-Greens decide to leave the coalition, they could be replaced by the Reform Party or the People’s Party, while any coalition without the Independence Party can only be a four-party or larger coalition.

Who will become the new prime-minister still remains to be seen—but if the ruling coalition remains in place, the current prime-minister and leader of the Left-Greens, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, stands a good chance of keeping her post: she is still the most popular politician in Iceland with a 40 per cent approval rate.

The 2021 Althingi election, with one of the lowest turnouts in history at 80.1%, has not produced a clear winner. The election results reflect a Europe-wide trend in which traditional “major” parties are losing support. The electorate is fragmenting and their votes are pulled by smaller new parties. The coronavirus pandemic has only reinforced this trend.

The 2021 campaign did not foreshadow a sensation. Although Iceland has not become the first European country with a women’s majority in parliament, these elections will certainly go down in history as a test of Icelanders’ trust to their own democracy.

From our partner RIAC

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EU-Balkan Summit: No Set Timeframe for Western Balkans Accession

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From left to right: Janez JANŠA (Prime Minister, Slovenia), Charles MICHEL (President of the European Council), Ursula VON DER LEYEN (President of the European Commission) Copyright: European Union

On October 6, Slovenia hosted a summit between the EU and the Western Balkans states. The EU-27 met with their counterparts (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Kosovo) in the sumptuous Renaissance setting of Brdo Castle, 30 kilometers north of the capital, Ljubljana. Despite calls from a minority of heads of state and government, there were no sign of a breakthrough on the sensitive issue of enlargement. The accession of these countries to the European Union is still not unanimous among the 27 EU member states.

During her final tour of the Balkans three weeks ago, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that the peninsula’s integration was of “geostrategic” importance. On the eve of the summit, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz backed Slovenia’s goal of integrating this zone’s countries into the EU by 2030.

However, the unanimity required to begin the hard negotiations is still a long way off, even for the most advanced countries in the accession process, Albania and North Macedonia. Bulgaria, which is already a member of the EU, is opposing North Macedonia’s admission due to linguistic and cultural differences. Since Yugoslavia’s demise, Sofia has rejected the concept of Macedonian language, insisting that it is a Bulgarian dialect, and has condemned the artificial construction of a distinct national identity.

Other countries’ reluctance to join quickly is of a different nature. France and the Netherlands believe that previous enlargements (Bulgaria and Romania in 2007) have resulted in changes that must first be digested before the next round of enlargement. The EU-27 also demand that all necessary prior guarantees be provided regarding the independence of the judiciary and the fight against corruption in these countries. Despite the fact that press freedom is a requirement for membership, the NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urged the EU to make “support for investigative and professional journalism” a key issue at the summit.”

While the EU-27 have not met since June, the topic of Western Balkans integration is competing with other top priorities in the run-up to France’s presidency of the EU in the first half of 2022. On the eve of the summit, a working dinner will be held, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, called for “a strategic discussion on the role of the Union on the international scene” in his letter of invitation to the EU-Balkans Summit, citing “recent developments in Afghanistan,” the announcement of the AUKUS pact between the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, which has enraged Paris.

The Western Balkans remain the focal point of an international game of influence in which the Europeans seek to maintain their dominance. As a result, the importance of reaffirming a “European perspective” at the summit was not an overstatement. Faced with the more frequent incursion of China, Russia, and Turkey in that European region, the EU has pledged a 30 billion euro Economic and Investment Plan for 2021-2027, as well as increased cooperation, particularly to deal with the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Opening the borders, however, is out of the question. In the absence of progress on this issue, Albania, North Macedonia, and Serbia have decided to establish their own zone of free movement (The Balkans are Open”) beginning January 1, 2023. “We are starting today to do in the region what we will do tomorrow in the EU,” said Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama when the agreement was signed last July.

This initiative, launched in 2019 under the name “Mini-Schengen” and based on a 1990s idea, does not have the support of the entire peninsular region, which remains deeply divided over this project. While Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro are not refusing to be a part of it and are open to discussions, the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, who took office in 2020, for his part accuses Serbia of relying on this project to recreate “a fourth Yugoslavia”

Tensions between Balkan countries continue to be an impediment to European integration. The issue of movement between Kosovo and Serbia has been a source of concern since the end of September. Two weeks of escalation followed Kosovo’s decision to prohibit cars with Serbian license plates from entering its territory, in response to Serbia’s long-standing prohibition on allowing vehicles to pass in the opposite direction.

In response to the mobilization of Kosovar police to block the road, Serbs in Kosovo blocked roads to their towns and villages, and Serbia deployed tanks and the air force near the border. On Sunday, October 3, the conflict seemed to be over, and the roads were reopened. However, the tone had been set three days before the EU-Balkans summit.

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German Election: Ramifications for the US Foreign Policy

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Image source: twitter @OlafScholz

In the recent German election, foreign policy was scarcely an issue. But Germany is an important element in the US foreign policy. There is a number of cases where Germany and the US can cooperate, but all of these dynamics are going to change very soon.

The Germans’ strategic culture makes it hard to be aligned perfectly with the US and disagreements can easily damage the relations. After the tension between the two countries over the Iraq war, in 2003, Henry Kissinger said that he could not imagine the relations between Germany and the US could be aggravated so quickly, so easily, which might end up being the “permanent temptation of German politics”. For a long time, the US used to provide security for Germany during the Cold War and beyond, so, several generations are used to take peace for granted. But recently, there is a growing demand on them to carry more burden, not just for their own security, but for international peace and stability. This demand was not well-received in Berlin.

Then, the environment around Germany changed and new threats loomed up in front of them. The great powers’ competition became the main theme in international relations. Still, Germany was not and is not ready for shouldering more responsibility. Politicians know this very well. Ursula von der Leyen, who was German defense minister, asked terms like “nuclear weapons” and “deterrence” be removed from her speeches.

Although on paper, all major parties appreciate the importance of Germany’s relations with the US, the Greens and SPD ask for a reset in the relations. The Greens insist on the European way in transatlantic relations and SPD seeks more multilateralism. Therefore, alignment may be harder to maintain in the future. However, If the tensions between the US and China heat up to melting degrees, then external pressure can overrule the internal pressure and Germany may accede to its transatlantic partners, just like when Helmut Schmid let NATO install medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe after the Soviet Union attacked Afghanistan and the Cold War heated up.

According to the election results, now three coalitions are possible: grand coalition with CDU/CSU and SPD, traffic lights coalition with SPD, FDP, and Greens, Jamaica coalition with CDU/CSU, FDP, and Greens. Jamaica coalition will more likely form the most favorable government for the US because it has both CDU and FDP, and traffic lights will be the least favorite as it has SPD. The grand coalition can maintain the status quo at best, because contrary to the current government, SPD will dominate CDU.

To understand nuances, we need to go over security issues to see how these coalitions will react to them. As far as Russia is concerned, none of them will recognize the annexation of Crimea and they all support related sanctions. However, if tensions heat up, any coalition government with SPD will be less likely assertive. On the other hand, as the Greens stress the importance of European values like democracy and human rights, they tend to be more assertive if the US formulates its foreign policy by these common values and describe US-China rivalry as a clash between democracy and authoritarianism. Moreover, the Greens disapprove of the Nordstream project, of course not for its geopolitics. FDP has also sided against it for a different reason. So, the US must follow closely the negotiations which have already started between anti-Russian smaller parties versus major parties.

For relations with China, pro-business FDP is less assertive. They are seeking for developing EU-China relations and deepening economic ties and civil society relations. While CDU/CSU and Greens see China as a competitor, partner, and systemic rival, SPD and FDP have still hopes that they can bring change through the exchange. Thus, the US might have bigger problems with the traffic lights coalition than the Jamaica coalition in this regard.

As for NATO and its 2 percent of GDP, the division is wider. CDU/CSU and FDP are the only parties who support it. So, in the next government, it might be harder to persuade them to pay more. Finally, for nuclear participation, the situation is the same. CDU/CSU is the only party that argues for it. This makes it an alarming situation because the next government has to decide on replacing Germany’s tornados until 2024, otherwise Germany will drop out of the NATO nuclear participation.

The below table gives a brief review of these three coalitions. 1 indicates the lowest level of favoritism and 3 indicates the highest level of favoritism. As it shows, the most anti-Russia coalition is Jamaica, while the most anti-China coalition is Trafic light. Meanwhile, Grand Coalition is the most pro-NATO coalition. If the US adopts a more normative foreign policy against China and Russia, then the Greens and FDP will be more assertive in their anti-Russian and anti-Chinese policies and Germany will align more firmly with the US if traffic light or Jamaica coalition rise to power.

Issues CoalitionsTrafic LightGrand CoalitionJamaica
Russia213 
China312 
NATO132 

1 indicates the lowest level of favoritism. 3 indicates the highest level of favoritism.

In conclusion, this election should not make Americans any happier. The US has already been frustrated with the current government led by Angela Merkel who gave Germany’s trade with China the first priority, and now that the left-wing will have more say in any imaginable coalition in the future, the Americans should become less pleased. But, still, there are hopes that Germany can be a partner for the US in great power competition if the US could articulate its foreign policy with common values, like democracy and human rights. More normative foreign policy can make a reliable partner out of Germany. Foreign policy rarely became a topic in this election, but observers should expect many ramifications for it.

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