A Joe Biden victory in the U.S. presidential election would not mean Europe could rely on America for security as it used to do, Germany’s defense minister said Wednesday.
In a live-streamed interview, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer argued that the United States will remain focused on China even if the Democratic candidate defeats President Donald Trump in November, meaning that Europe must continue to develop its own foreign and security policy.
“Even if Joe Biden wins — which would mean we would certainly deal with each other in a different way — we must not forget that there are certain views that are shared by a large part of the American political class, for example on China or how to deal with Russia, where I would mention Nord Stream 2,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said, referring to the controversial gas pipeline linking Russia and Germany.
“To that extent, there are certain basic axes that will certainly not shift,” she added in the interview, organized by her ministry.
Kramp-Karrenbauer said that based on Biden’s statements to date, the economic and geopolitical rivalry between the United States and China would continue if he became president.
“And that will inevitably lead to the question, also in view of the capabilities of the United States and the burdens it has to bear, of whether it is in a position to have an equally high presence in two areas and to bear the costs involved — in other words, both in the European area and in the Indo-Pacific area,” said Kramp-Karrenbauer.
She also said the German presidency of the Council of the EU, which began last week, is “working very hard” to finalize work in the coming six months on a proposal that would allow non-EU countries to participate in military projects running under the bloc’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) program.
“This is important for future cooperation with the United Kingdom, but also for cooperation with the United States,” she said.
Transatlantic relations have deteriorated under Trump, who said last month he plans to cut the number of U.S. troops in Germany by about 10,000 in response to what he characterized as German delinquency on military spending.
The U.S. has also clashed with Germany over Nord Stream 2, and both Republican and Democratic senators have pushed for sanctions against companies involved in constructing the pipeline.
Kramp-Karrenbauer said that a shift of U.S. attention to Asia meant that “it is in our own real interest that we should make faster and better progress in Europe” in strengthening foreign and defense policies.
She mentioned as an example the Sahel region in Africa, where U.S. troops are supporting EU efforts to combat terrorism, the disintegration of state structures and irregular migration.
“These are first and foremost issues that are particularly relevant for Europe,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said. “And that is why it is also important that Europe should be able to act there, possibly in a position where in the longer term we are not dependent on the fundamental support of the American side.”
The U.K. should be involved in such ambitions, she said: “Britain, with its assets, with its capabilities, with its strategic approach, remains a very important partner.”
Photo Credit : https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:AV0A3388_Dr.Frauke_Gerlach,_Armin_Laschet_Annegret_Kramp-Karrenbauer(cropped).jpg