The head of the Munich Security Conference sees the world facing an ‘epoch break’ – and German-American relations permanently shaken. Stefan Schmitz
The former top diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger warned in an interview with the magazine ‘Stern’ that a future US president could call the reliable protection for the allies into question again. ‘That shakes basic elements of German foreign policy,’ emphasized the former German ambassador to the United States and Great Britain, who now heads the Munich Security Conference. Many old certainties would change dramatically. The 75-year-old spoke of an ‘epoch break’ and a ‘turning point’.
Ischinger said that, unlike in the past, we couldn’t care less about the US election result. ‘For the first time in 70 years we have to ask ourselves a strategic question about the US: What can we do to prevent Trump or a Trumpist from being re-elected?’ This is ‘a blatant difference’.
The ex-State Secretary in the Foreign Office criticized the state of the European Union. The goal of an ever closer community was damaged by Brexit as well as by conflicts with Hungary and Poland. ‘We have to be happy now if we keep the European project going at all.’ He urged Europeans to speak with one voice to China.
Ischinger predicted: ‘The subject of China will be the big central issue for the cohesion of the West.’ Many Americans only see two options: ‘Either America wins, technologically, politically, economically, maybe also militarily – or China wins.’ The Europeans, on the other hand, believed that ‘it is worth trying to negotiate fair terms with the Chinese’. Although they were looking to exchange views on differences of opinion on the subject of human rights, they did not want to question trade relations. Soon it will show whether ‘this new western unity is only something for Sunday speeches or whether we will confront China together’.