The return of the Pindo-German conflict
Johannes Stern, WSWS, Mar 22 2017
The first meeting between Merkel and Trump in Faschingstein last weekend exposed the rapid deterioration of transatlantic relations. Trump’s refusal to shake Merkel’s hand during their photo-op in the Oval Office attracted international attention. After the heads of government from the two close post-WW2 allies appeared before the press following a 15-minute one-on-one discussion and were asked by the photographers present to shake hands for a picture, Trump did not respond. Merkel turned to him and repeated the photographers’ request, but he ignored her and stared angrily in the other direction. The press conference that followed was frosty and tense. Responding to a German journalist’s question:
Would it not be a danger for Pindostan if ‘Pindostan first’ weakens the EU?
I believe a policy of trade should be a fair policy, and Pindostan has been treated very, very unfairly by many countries over the years and that’s going to stop!
Trump threatened Germany on several occasions with trade war measures before taking office. Without going into detail, Trump raised the issue again at the press conference, declaring:
The negotiators for Germany have done a far better job than the negotiators for Pindostan, but hopefully we can even it out. It’s probably the reason I’m standing here, maybe number one. That and maybe the military: building up our military, which we will do, and we will be stronger than ever before, and hopefully not have to use it, but we will be stronger, and perhaps far stronger than ever before.
When Merkel, who according to press accounts was seeking to defuse the conflict with Trump, was on her return flight to Berlin, Trump went a step further. In one of his notorious tweets, he wrote:
Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & Pindostan must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen promptly shot back:
There is no account where debts are registered with NATO!
The G20 conference in Baden Baden which concluded the same day as Merkel’s trip to Faschingstein likewise ended with a provocation. Pindosi Treasury Sec Steven Mnuchin prevented the inclusion in the final statement of the usual declaration in support of free trade and in opposition to protectionism, saying by way of justification:
The contents of past communiqués are not necessarily relevant from my perspective.
The German ruling class has reacted to the escalating conflict with a mixture of concern and aggression. On Monday, the daily Handelsblatt published a commentary headlined “Transatlantic confrontation” which declared:
Anyone who hoped that Angela Merkel’s visit to Donald Trump would lay the basis for a normalisation of transatlantic relations must learn to know better. The Pindosi president is sticking to his firm positions, and is even intensifying the conflict with international partners. The tweet against the Chancellor is an affront, the incident at the G20 meeting an historic break with the past.
Even representatives of the German ruling elite who have been vehemently pro-Pindo in the past and supported Pindo-led wars are no longer taking Germany’s partnership with Pindostan for granted. Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger in the FAZ:
Enough of making fun! There is no longer a generous patron! Now someone is governing who recognises no allies, but only alleged debtors who take advantage of Pindostan! Yes, a new era is beginning in the White House!
A comment in the Rheinische Post summed up the response of German imperialism to Trump’s aggressive assertion of Pindosi interests, writing:
It is necessary to find even clearer statements against the new Pindosi protectionism, and to mobilise the majority of the remaining states against Trump. Germany and the EU must assert themselves and counterpose their own, different-sounding goals, instead of permitting themselves to be intimidated by Faschingstein. The prospects for this are good, because at the G20 summit it became clear that in trade policy, Germany not only has the rest of the EU on its side, but almost the rest of the entire world, above all China, Brazil and Japan.
Nobody should underestimate the historical and political significance of these developments. Twenty five years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the conflicts between the imperialist powers, which led twice in the 20th century to horrific world wars, are once again erupting in trade war and preparations for military conflict. The international working class must counterpose its own strategy to the plans of the ruling elites on both sides of the Atlantic.