National Security

Grenell Concerned About Cohesion Of Western Alliance

As former ambassador to Germany, he knows the playing field.

Richard Grenell was the head spook and ambassador to Germany. He has first hand experience and knowledge of the Western Alliance. He knows, it is not doing well.

Grenell: “Angela Merkel has been Chancellor of Germany for 16 years. She will visit the White House Thursday for the last time as the country’s leader because she is stepping down in September. I was with Chancellor Merkel when President Trump gave her a private tour of his White House residence in 2018. I saw how President Trump used humor and facts to present her with the American people’s frustration that Germany refused to pay its NATO obligations while also buying worrying amounts of gas from Russia.

Yet, Merkel always struggled to explain why exactly her country had a budget surplus while not meeting their financial commitments to NATO’s defense. She also failed to make clear why exactly Germany was ignoring European concerns that she was feeding the beast of Russia with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline partnership.

As U.S. ambassador to Germany during the Trump administration, I spent much of my time trying to convince the largest country of America’s European allies that some of their political positions were incompatible with a Western-facing Alliance. U.S. Embassy Berlin and the many Foreign Service Officers serving there and in the five consulates located in Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Munich, Frankfurt, and Leipzig helped coordinate U.S. responses to Chinese and Russian espionage; technology theft; unfair trade deals; differing threat assessments from Iran, Russia and China, energy security and NATO obligations.

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I came away wondering why the German government does not share the Western Alliance view that the Kremlin and the Chinese Communist Party will not eventually converge with the values and interests of Western Europe. Expecting them to will only make it more likely that the two hostile powers will succeed in further marginalizing the West.

In 1990, NATO Secretary General Manfred Wörner warned that Europe either ‘lapses back into the old power politics and balance of power diplomacy of past centuries or it moves ahead along the road leading to a new order of peace and freedom.’

Unfortunately for Germany, it interpreted the end of the Cold War as a permanent moral triumph rather than a strategic victory that required more tending. And over the decades since, the German government morphed into a Germany-First economic machine that moved away from the West as it sought more money and trade with anyone and everyone.

But U.S. policy is also to blame. A naïve belief in the universalization of Western liberal values blinded previous U.S. administrations and allowed the largest economy in Europe to drift away from the West. Clinton, Bush and Obama all believed that the increase in the number of democracies in the world was inevitable and irreversible, yet they stood by while Germany drifted towards a Swiss style neutrality.

While government bureaucracies, legacy media outlets, self-described Transatlantists and elite universities celebrate the 16 years of Merkel’s leadership in Europe, the Alliance has drifted. It needs to be reminded that it is to be a Western Alliance, not just an EU-U.S. Alliance. The next Chancellor of Germany will need to decide if Germany is with the West or if it will pursue the singular economic path where you pretend every country is morally equal. Astonishingly, some of the current candidates have indicted that they do not want to have to chose between America and China; the Communist Chinese are very happy to hear it.”

David Kamioner
meet the author

David Kamioner is a veteran of U.S. Army Intelligence and an honors graduate of the University of Maryland's European Division. He also served with the Pershing Nuclear Brigade and the First Infantry Division. Subsequent to that he worked for two decades as a political consultant, was part of the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort in Louisiana, ran a homeless shelter for veterans in Philadelphia, and taught as a college instructor. He serves as a Contributing Editor for LifeZette.

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