The strategist Markus Kaim sits in Washington, the control center of power. From there he analysed the current US policy, transatlantic relations and the upcoming election campaign for the Lerbach Round.
When I think about the world from Washington's point of view, I notice five points. They are about the new world order, the renaissance of nationalism, the role of the USA, its doctrine in foreign and security policy and, of course, the US election next year.
// 01 The New World Order:
We are at a watershed in international relations. Are we heading towards a bipolar world order, where the USA and China are struggling for supremacy in international politics? Or is a multipolar world order emerging? I tend towards the second variant. In addition to the five permanent members of the Security Council, other actors will then also set accents. These include Turkey, Saudi Arabia and, in other regional contexts, perhaps Nigeria and Brazil. In any case, the shifts in power in international politics will increase significantly. The crucial question for Germany and Europe is whether we want to be one of these poles in international politics. And what we are prepared to do about it - in foreign and security policy, but also in trade, monetary and defence policy. We will have to find an answer to this in the next decade. After all, the standards that have been in place so far have started to slip. Just think of the norm of non-displacement of borders by means of military force - keyword: Ukraine crisis.
Even institutions such as the United Nations, with which we have all grown up, still exist, but are being eroded. Everything that has meant peacekeeping by the UN will become much more difficult in the future.
// 02. The renaissance of nationalism:
A basic consideration of multilateralism was that cooperation with others makes sense and offers advantages for all countries involved. But this formula is no longer even shared by the USA. Instead, in many countries we see a renaissance of the nation-state. In Russia or China, this turn of events is still underpinned by a cultural dimension.
In Europe, too, the return of many sovereign rights from the European to the national level is a major issue. This will limit the European Union's room for manoeuvre in world politics. In the foreseeable future, we will have to be satisfied with keeping the level of integration up to date.
// The role of the USA in the world:
The USA will no longer take the traditional leading role. They do not categorically reject multilateral organisations such as the UN, the World Trade Organisation and many others, but measure their success more than ever against US interests. The central question for the Trump administration and potential successors is: How can the US assert itself in the changed competitive situation of major powers?
// 04 Trump's doctrine in foreign and security policy:
Donald Trump's strategy: Those who oppose the USA will be dealt with under maximum pressure. This applies not only to the trade conflict with China, but also to security policy. Just think of the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, arms deliveries to Taiwan or Iran.
A novelty is the use of trade as a foreign policy weapon, above all vis-à-vis traditional allies. The third facet is unpredictability, volatility as a determining maxim. On the one hand, Russia is subject to sanctions. At the same time, Donald Trump seeks proximity to President Putin - without this being strategically underpinned. A similarly erratic, unstrategic behaviour, let us say: calculated unpredictability, shows the erroneous politics in relation to North Korea.
// 05 The US election in November 2020:
It will become scarcer than many in Europe believe. Ultimately, the presidential elections will be decided in four states, 46 of which will almost certainly be awarded to Republicans or Democrats. Only Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida have fallen on one side or the other in the past.
By 2016, these states had fallen by 120000 to 200000 votes to Trump. That's not much. In the 2018 mid-term elections, the majorities there have already fallen significantly. I see a high probability that not all but two or three of these four states will fall back to the Democrats. In this case, the fair would have been read for Donald Trump.
What happens then? Even under a democratic president, the US will no longer look across the Atlantic so strongly. There will be no fundamental change of course in the area of foreign and security policy. Many breaks, many problem areas will continue to burden German-American and European-American relations.
Questions of domestic policy determine the agenda in Washington and are discussed controversially. They are concerned with the handling of weapons or health care. How controversial depends on who becomes a Democrat candidate. Joe Biden is the man of the establishment who certainly does not represent a new beginning. Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders could bring about radical programmatic change. Ultimately, it will be the party's assessment of the eligibility of both in the political centre that will decide.
But don't be fooled. The 2020 election is only a stopover. The new hopes of both parties are clearly young Latinos from the South, from Texas, Nevada, Arizona. In 2040, demographic change will have ensured that the whites in the USA will only form a minority. Then the gravitational center of American politics will shift from the coasts and northeast to the south, southwest and southeast. And that will be really exciting. ®