US President-elect Donald Trump is moving into the White House on Friday, yet the world has already changed. The niceties have been cast aside, political rhetoric has assumed a rawness that until now was associated only with military action, and political correctness has been replaced by directness in the conveyance of the political message.
Not so long ago, American political scientist Francis Fukuyama had heralded the end of history in an essay that became the bible of neo-liberalism. He has been refuted absolutely by the prevalence of the claim for national sovereignty. The leaders of the great powers today are nationalists: not just Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Russian President Vladimir Putin, but also Chinese President Xi Jinping, the champion of globalization, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble.
Trump is not delusional; his argument is simple. The collapse of the USSR and communism in Europe was the result of a radical strategy spearheaded by former US president Ronald Regan, but the biggest benefits from this development went to two countries that had little military power, to export forces, Germany and China, as the US became instead embroiled in futile battles.
The post-Soviet era is marked by a historical paradox and the balance can only be restored with a major turnaround, because it is inconceivable that the most powerful country in the world should act as a supplementary force in the interest of third parties or that it guarantees the security of allies who are inconsistent in their obligations.
The US decried the competitive edge acquired by German companies – in fair and unfair ways. After all, every case against Siemens, Volkswagen and Deutsche Bank started in Washington. Trump addressed this issue in political terms – terms harsher than anything that has been heard in Germany since World War II – when he accused Berlin of using Europe as a vehicle for its enlargement.
Trump, however, is not alone in the effort to restore some balance in Europe and the world – because this is what the issue is basically about. May, who is gradually emerging as the UK’s new Iron Lady, made it clear in her last public address that Britain’s exit from the European Union will be total and that the right to national sovereignty is inalienable.
Clearly, a strategic convergence between the US and the UK is under way, with the aim obviously being to crush Germany, as was the case in the last two world wars. They are not after the breakup of the European Union, but the restoration of the balance so that the continent no longer serves as a vehicle serving the nationalist aspirations of Berlin and Beijing.