German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, in a speech in Berlin on Wednesday, June 13, said, “We Europeans have to act as a conscious counterweight when the U.S. crosses red lines”, and, “Where the U.S. government aggressively throws into question our values and interests, we have to react more robustly”, according to Reuters.
Maas also spoke of the need for a “new balance” between the United States and Europe as a result of European unhappiness with the policies of the Trump administration. Specifically, he cited the US pulling out of both the Paris Accord and the nuclear deal with Iran (known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran (JCPOA), threats of sanctions against Europeans that continue to do business with Iran, as well as the the threats of tariffs against European auto, steel, and aluminum, manufacturers.
As early as January 16, 2017, then president-elect Trump warned German automobile manufacturers he was considering an import tariff of 35% on imported vehicles. On March 1, 2018, President Trump announced that tariffs would be placed on steel (25%) and aluminum (10%) for all imports of the metals, as reported by The New York Times. Also that day, Ben Shapiro, writing at The Daily Wire, argued against Trump’s tariff plan.
Mr. Maas, a member of the Social Democrat Party (SPD), is a popular political figure with most Germans and many Europeans. He was named Foreign Minister under the new coalition government that the SPD formed with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. His popularity suggests that Europeans, and especially the majority of Germans, share his worldview.
However, as described by The Times of Israel, Maas is not popular with everyone. Since taking office on March 14, 2018, he has taken tough stands against social media titans Facebook, Twitter, and other online media companies. A German opposition party, Alternative for Germany (AfD) has called Maas the “censorship minister”, among other criticisms.
Maas recently took tough stands against Turkish politicians and parties campaigning inside of Germany’s borders, according to the Daily Sabah, banning political rallies.
He also told Russia, essentially, to straighten up and fly right, as described by Deutsche Welle. Maas criticized the Russian government for a cyber attack on the German Foreign Ministry, as well as Russia’s activites in Syria and the Ukraine.
Heiko Maas has delivered tough messages to Turkey, Russia, and now the United States. Europe, under the leadership of Germany and Heiko Maas, is demonstrating a new independence and a detachment from the US.
Why This Matters
Nothing unites people as much as a commonly perceived threat, and Europeans now see the US more of a rival than an ally, lumping America with Europe’s nemeses from the past, Russia and Turkey.
Because of this, now and in the future, the United States can no longer count on our formerly dependable European allies to stand with us in times of trouble. Europe has decided it is best to look out for what is best for Europe.
Trump’s policies are uniting Europe. Old friendships are being damaged. Geopolitical stability and America’s influence in the world are in decline.