Thomas O'Donnell: A Comment on: “A Trans-Atlantic Manifesto in Times of Trump – A German Perspective,” by foreign policy experts
I read with interest the declaration: "In spite of it all, America: A Trans-Atlantic Manifesto in Times of Donald Trump - A German Perspective, " signed by a number of leading German foreign policy experts today in Die Zeit and translated in the NYTimes .
Point 10 is of particular interest and much welcomed as - at long last - a frank characterization in Germany of the Nord Stream 2 project for what it plainly is: "a geopolitical project:" Quoting:
10. Energy security policy — giving up Nord Stream 2 is in Germany's interest
There is one more policy area in which the German government should reconsider its position to open the door for productive cooperation: energy security policy. The United States has identified Nord Stream 2, the planned pipeline running through the Baltic Sea to Russia, as a geostrategic project. They are correct. More important: This pipeline project is not in the joint European interest. Nord Stream 2 contradicts a policy of greater energy independence and undermines the envisaged European Energy Union. We should try to identify a joint approach with our European partners and the United States.
Further in the spirit of Trans-Atlanticism, which this manifesto embodies, I should point out that the recent US sanctions bill (enacted by Congress in retaliation for Russian interference in US elections, and to codify into law Obama's presidential sanctions orders stemming from Russia's East Ukraine and Crimean interventions, so that Donald Trump cannot easily reverse these) ... involved Congress meeting with EU and German diplomats and re-drafting the initial bill so as to take into explicit consideration European concerns.
These concerns were that US sanctions should not unfairly disadvantage European firms over US firms, and should not be imposed on EU firms in a "unilateral" manner, without close consultations with European allies such as were carried out by the Obama administration.
In fact, the final version of this bill explicitly requires the Trump Administration to decide to impose any new sanctions on participants in European pipelines or energy projects such as Nord Stream 2 only in "coordination" with the European Union.
The fact that the final drafting of this bill - which Trump was constrained to sign because it was 'veto proof' - involved US-EU active cooperation, both "without and against" President Trump, is a significant step in defense of Trans-Atlanticism and in defiance of Trump's anti-European "America First" policy and of his vision of US " energy independence " as jingoistic "US energy dominance."
Today's manifesto by influential German foreign affairs figures advocating further engagement with the USA in spite of (and de facto against) Trump, is a further positive step in this direction.
I should note that the Trump administration has missed the new sanctions bill's mandated deadline to report to Congress on these issues. Meanwhile, I am told (some two weeks ago) by reliable sources that "all work has been frozen" by Gazprom's European-partner firms involved in the NS2 project, awaiting clarity from the White House on what any new sanctions will be and then to understand the longterm impact on their participations.
My recent Berlin Policy Journal article on this, Neue Neue Ostpolitik , and some earlier ones there may be of interest.