dalej za"Stratfor" by George Friedman
The German Question Revisited
We return to the question that has defined Europe since 1871, namely, the status
of Germany in Europe. As we have seen during the current crisis, Germany is
clearly the economic center of gravity in Europe, and this crisis has shown that
the economic and the political issues are very much one and the same. Unless
Germany agrees, nothing can be done, and if Germany so wishes, something will be
done. Germany has tremendous power in Europe, even if it is confined largely to
economic matters. But just as Germany is the blocker and enabler of Europe, over
time that makes Germany the central problem of Europe.
If Germany is the key decision maker in Europe, then Germany defines whatever
policies Europe as a whole undertakes. If Europe fragments, then Germany is the
only country in Europe with the ability to create alternative coalitions that
are both powerful and cohesive. That means that if the European Union weakens,
Germany will have the greatest say in what Europe will become. Right now, the
Germans are working assiduously to reformulate the European Union and the
eurozone in a manner more to their liking. But as this requires many partners to
offer sovereignty to German control — sovereignty they have jealously guarded
throughout the European project — it is worth exploring alternatives to Germany
in the European Union.
For that we first must understand Germany’s limits. The German problem is the
same problem it has had since unification: It is enormously powerful, but it is
far from omnipotent. Its very power makes it the focus of other powers, and
together, these other powers can cripple Germany. Thus, Germany is indispensable
for any decision within the European Union at present, and it will be the single
center of power in Europe in the future — but Germany can’t just go it alone.
Germany needs a coalition, meaning the long-term question is this: If the EU
were to weaken or even fail, what alternative coalition would Germany seek?
The casual answer is France, as the two economies are somewhat similar and the
countries are next-door neighbors. But historically, this similarity in
structure and location has been a source not of collaboration and fondness but
of competition and friction. Within the European Union, with its broad
diversity, Germany and France have been able to put aside their frictions,
finding a common interest in managing Europe to their mutual advantage. That
co-management, of course, helped bring us to this current crisis. Moreover, the
biggest thing that France has that Germany wants is its market; an ideal partner
for Germany would offer more. By itself at least, France is not a foundation for
long-term German economic strategy. The historic alternative for Germany has
The Russian Option
A great deal of potential synergy exists between the German and Russian
economies. Germany imports large amounts of energy and other resources from
Russia. As mentioned, Russia needs sources of technology and capital to move it
beyond its current position of mere resource exporter. Germany has a shrinking
population and needs a source of labor — preferably a source that doesn’t
actually want to move to Germany. Russia’s Soviet-era economy continues to
de-industrialize, and while that has a plethora of negative impacts, there is
one often-overlooked positive: Russia now has more labor than it can effectively
metabolize in its economy given its capital structure. Germany doesn’t want more
immigrants but needs access to labor. Russia wants factories in Russia to employ
its surplus work force, and it wants technology. The logic of the German-Russian
economic relationship is more obvious than the German-Greek or German-Spanish
relationship. As for France, it can participate or not (and incidentally, the
French are joining in on a number of ongoing German-Russian projects).
Therefore, if we simply focus on economics, and we assume that the European
Union cannot survive as an integrated system (a logical but not yet proven
outcome), and we further assume that Germany is both the leading power of Europe
and incapable of operating outside of a coalition, then we would argue that a
German coalition with Russia is the most logical outcome of an EU decline.
This would leave many countries extremely uneasy. The first is Poland, caught as
it is between Russia and Germany. The second is the United States, since
Washington would see a Russo-German economic bloc as a more significant
challenger than the European Union ever was for two reasons. First, it would be
a more coherent relationship — forging common policies among two states with
broadly parallel interests is far simpler and faster than doing so among 27.
Second, and more important, where the European Union could not develop a
military dimension due to internal dissensions, the emergence of a
politico-military dimension to a Russo-German economic bloc is far less
difficult to imagine. It would be built around the fact that both Germans and
Russians resent and fear American power and assertiveness, and that the
Americans have for years been courting allies who lie between the two powers.
Germany and Russia would both view themselves defending against American pressure.
And this brings us back to the Patriot missiles. Regardless of the bureaucratic
backwater this transfer might have emerged out of, or the political disinterest
that generated the plan, the Patriot stationing fits neatly into a slowly
maturing military relationship between Poland and the United States. A few
months ago, the Poles and Americans conducted military exercises in the Baltic
states, an incredibly sensitive region for the Russians. The Polish air force
now flies some of the most modern U.S.-built F-16s in the world; this, plus
Patriots, could seriously challenge the Russians. A Polish general commands a
sector in Afghanistan, something not lost upon the Russians. By a host of
processes, a close U.S.-Polish relationship is emerging.
The current economic problems may lead to a fundamental weakening of the
European Union. Germany is economically powerful but needs economic coalition
partners that contribute to German well-being rather than merely draw on it. A
Russian-German relationship could logically emerge from this. If it did, the
Americans and Poles would logically have their own relationship. The former
would begin as economic and edge toward military. The latter begins as military,
and with the weakening of the European Union, edges toward economics. The
Russian-German bloc would attempt to bring others into its coalition, as would
the Polish-U.S. bloc. Both would compete in Central Europe — and for France.
During this process, the politics of NATO would shift from humdrum to absolutely
And thus, the Greek crisis and the Patriots might intersect, or in our view,
will certainly in due course intersect. Though neither is of lasting importance
in and of themselves, the two together point to a new logic in Europe. What
appears impossible now in Europe might not be unthinkable in a few years. With
Greece symbolizing the weakening of the European Union and the Patriots
representing the remilitarization of at least part of Europe, ostensibly
unconnected tendencies might well intersect.