On September 24 Germans took to the polls and chose a new Bundestag, parliament. German polity was shaken because the Alternative for Germany (AfD), an anti-migrant party, successfully managed to make its presence felt in German politics.
AfD’s success attests to the unmitigated support for populist politicians, continued frustration with the flow of mainly Muslim immigrants, and a decline in acceptance of socio-political liberalism which, for many Germans, has had a failed foreign policy. Long before the recent elections, German policymakers were cognizant of the emergence of the above trends in their society. However, the elections foregrounded the need for a strategic about-face vis-à-vis Germany’s role in the world. That strategic about-face is taking shape.
The internal consensus among German policymakers points to America’s diminishing role in decisively influencing geopolitical outcomes in various geographic articulations and the need for the pursuit of a more independent foreign policy. Germany is resisting American pressure on multiple geopolitical fronts. It is under pressure to curtail its growing trade ties with Iran, which have expanded significantly since the nuclear deal was signed. Germany also finds itself at the receiving end of growing trade sanctions and economic warfare against Russia. From Berlin’s perspective, the anti-Russian economic warfare is crystallized in American and British efforts to scrap the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which, upon completion, will transport Russian natural gas via the Baltic Sea to Germany.
Germany’s growing involvement in the China-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is also frowned upon in Washington as it signifies Berlin’s stamp of approval on Beijing’s massive trade and infrastructure project and its willingness to participate in the economic revival of the Eurasian landmass. Apart from the government, German businesses are eager to broaden their scope of their market reach. They have consistently put pressure on Merkel to resist pressure from Washington.
Germany firmly believes that political and economic stability prevent mass migration and terrorism, a conviction that has put the country to becoming intimately integrated with an emerging multipolar world of trade based on multilateral agreements, as opposed to joining the empire of sanctions.