President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have invoked the ânational interestâ of the United States by allowing Russia and Germany to proceed with the completion of the Nord Stream 2 (NS2) pipeline, without explain exactly what that interest was. How is it in the US national interest to jeopardize the security of sovereign nations of Europe by supporting the NS2 pipeline, in partnership with a notoriously untrustworthy Russia, in return for short-term energy security for the ‘Germany?
In his May 19 statement, Mr. Blinken said: âI have determined that it is in the national interest of the United States to waive the application of sanctions against Nord Stream 2 AG, its CEO Matthias Warnig and Nord Stream 2 AG. officers. “
Mathias Warnig is the executive handpicked by Russian President Vladimir Putin to lead the pipeline. Mr Warnig worked for the East German State Security Service (Stasi), where Mr Putin met him as a young KGB officer. Together, they will continue to use the infamous KGB and Stasi craft to advance NS2 and undermine any opposition to the pipeline.
Mr Blinken’s statement concluded with an internally contradictory message: âToday’s actions demonstrate the administration’s commitment to energy security in Europe, in accordance with the president’s commitment to rebuild. relations with our allies and partners in Europe. We will continue to oppose the completion of this project, which would weaken European energy security and that of Ukraine and the NATO and EU countries on the eastern flank. Our opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is unwavering. “
Mr Blinken’s statement, however, makes no sense. Let’s simplify. The United States is committed to the energy security of Europe, while opposing the completion of the project by lifting sanctions on the project. This is a diplomatic double-talk, highlighting a confused and dishonest foreign policy of the Biden administration that does not bode well for future insincere proclamations of support for Ukraine.
This move is clearly in the national interest of Germany, although the US national interest is far from obvious as it seriously undermines the long-term national security interests of the US and the EU and compromises completely the already fragile national security of Ukraine by rendering Ukraine’s transit pipelines obsolete.
With the two Nord Stream pipelines in place, NS1 and NS2, Mr Putin and Russia can easily blackmail Europe by controlling the flow of gas through the pipelines in future disputes, as they did on January 1. 2006, when Russia cut off supplies to Europe. in the context of a dispute between Ukraine and Russia over transit charges. It would be very easy for Mr Putin to fabricate a dispute or incident as an excuse to restrict the flow of gas to Europe.
The concept of “national interest” is a nebulous concept that is used to cover all actions deemed useful to advance the interests and goals of a nation. In foreign affairs, it is about promoting the objectives and ambitions of a nation in the international arena, be they economic, military or cultural. In this case, invoking the national interest is a weak excuse used to deflect criticism from an inexplicably bad decision.
The basis for this attitude of caring towards Germany can be found in the wording of the âEuropean Energy Security Act 2019 for the Protection of Energyâ. [PEESA; Sec. 7502]:
“Congress believes that the relationship between the United States and Europe and the United States and Germany is essential to the national security interests of the United States as well as to world prosperity and peace, and Germany in particular is a crucial partner. for the United States in multilateral efforts to promote global prosperity and peace. “
The Biden administration is eager to re-establish close ties with Germany that were severed under the Trump administration. In his first foreign policy speech as president, Biden announced he was ending the Trump administration’s planned US troop withdrawal from Germany until the Defense Department completed a review overall posture of the American forces. One would think that Mr Biden’s declared multilateral policies and recent moves to rally to the Paris climate accords and negotiations with Iran would be enough to signal that the United States will, once again, be a strong ally. of the EU.
Openly attracting Germany’s “favor” by accepting the NS2 pipeline is insufficient grounds for invoking the US national interest as the basis for this erroneous decision. A pleasant working relationship between the allies is a matter of conventional diplomacy. Mr Biden has made it clear his willingness to rebuild relations with European allies. One would expect something substantial in return from Germany.
Why should the United States curry favor with Germany, especially on such an important issue, which will clearly jeopardize EU security? For the past three decades, since the first Gulf War in 1991, Germany has been an unstable and inconsistent ally of the United States in NATO, the UN and other international fora. Germany escaped the Second Gulf War. A 2017 Pew poll of NATO countries found that Germans were the least likely to support the defense of their fellow Allies against Russian attacks, as required by Article 5 of the Alliance Charter.
Germany has lived under the protective aegis of the United States and NATO for the past 75 years. Germany enjoys protection against a US-installed Patriot missile defense system, but was against installing a similar system in Poland and Romania, two NATO partners. Mr Trump installed these systems, after former US President Barack Obama canceled them in 2009, after strong pressure from Germany and France, among others.
Germany opposed the delivery of offensive weapons to Ukraine. Despite being the richest nation in the EU, Germany has failed to meet its NATO defense pledge of 2% of GDP, while insisting that the US maintain 50,000 troops in the country.
It is clear that Germany is systematically and vigorously pursuing its own national interest to the detriment of European allies and the United States, while also complaining loudly about the “America first” policy. Berlin’s feigned reverence for multilateralism is a thin veil for its nationalist foreign policy, âGermany firstâ. Germany dominates European political discourse due to its disproportionate influence within the EU through its economic might and its disproportionate voting power in the European Parliament.
After the UK, with 76 votes, left the EU, the influence of Germany and France grew further. Together, Germany, France and Italy control 250 of the 705 (35%) seats in the European Parliament. Despite this, in a resolution approved on April 29 by 569 votes in favor, 67 against and 46 abstentions, the parliament called on the EU to “reduce its dependence on Russian energy”.
Let’s look at the energy composition of Germany. In 2020, 30% of Germany’s energy consumption came from oil; 26% came from natural gas; 17 from renewable sources (wind, solar, biomass, hydroelectricity); 16 percent came from coal and 6 percent from nuclear power. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has decided to phase out nuclear power by 2022 and replace natural gas with coal. Instead of choosing energy independence by developing a new generation of cleaner and much safer nuclear technology, and importing liquefied natural gas from reliable partners like the United States and Canada, Merkel chose energy dependence on to Russia, a notoriously unreliable and untrustworthy partner. It is not in the national interest of the United States to allow Merkel to carry out her reckless and disastrous energy dependency strategy.
The decision to continue with the NS2 pipeline is also at odds with the climate mitigation policies of Germany and the United States, which have pledged to reduce fossil fuel use due to serious security threats. national. Instead, Mr Biden canceled the Keystone pipeline as his first act as president, while overcoming the serious concerns of many allies about the risks posed by the NS2 pipeline.
Senator Jim Risch said: âIt is deeply troubling that this administration canceled the Keystone XL pipeline on day one, killing thousands of jobs in the United States and Canada. Yet he continues to support Russian workers involved in a project that runs counter to US and European security interests.
Finally, critics of NS2 have consistently expressed concerns that the pipeline would leave Ukraine vulnerable to energy disruptions while increasing the possibility of a major escalation in the ongoing Russian military aggression against the country. The Ukrainian pipeline, which currently supplies enough gas to Europe, would become redundant and Russia would be able to cut off supplies to Ukraine. It could also destroy the pipeline during a conflict without disrupting supplies to Europe. For Ukraine, the NS2 pipeline is a very serious and immediate threat to national security.
Mr. Biden will meet with NATO allies on June 14 in Brussels. Ambassador Kurt Volker recently wrote that NATO must develop a comprehensive plan to counter Russia’s aggressive actions on Europe’s borders, in cyberspace and its campaigns of disinformation and subversion of democratic nations, and to stop the NS2 pipeline.
This NATO meeting could be Mr Biden’s last chance for NATO allies to convince Germany and the United States to reverse the decision on the NS2 pipeline. Germany is an inconsistent ally that has been protected by the United States for 75 years and does not deserve special consideration from the United States in the form of a national interest rationale.
America’s national interest should be to reverse Germany’s destructive decision and protect Europe and Ukraine from Russia’s malign conceptions. The US national interest in opposing the completion of the NS2 pipeline must be clear:
â¢ NS2 is a âTrojan Horseâ system that will be used to blackmail Europe in a future undefined dispute between NATO allies and Russia, thus undermining national security;
â¢ NS2 will serve to further fragment European unity by pitting energy dependent nations against self-sufficient nations in many other areas of economic, commercial and military co-dependency;
â¢ NS2 is a clear and immediate threat to Ukraine, as it will allow Moscow to bypass the existing gas transport system through Ukraine, thus increasing Ukraine’s vulnerability to gas shortages and energy blackmail.
â¢ Bypassing NS2 will also make Ukrainian gas pipelines vulnerable to Russian attacks and sabotage, permanently cutting off gas supplies in further incursions across the eastern border.
â¢ More than most NATO members, Ukraine is an important strategic ally of the United States and Europe, being one of the few militarily engaged in resisting Russian threats.