Maybe German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel is figuring a couple of things out. Here are a couple of his remarks in an interview with Spiegel Online:
In the past, we could rely on the French, the British and, especially, the Americans, to assert our interests in the world. We have always criticized the US for being the global police, and it was often appropriate to do so. But we are now seeing what happens when the US pulls back. There is no such thing as a vacuum in international politics. If the US leaves the room, other powers immediately walk in. In Syria, it’s Russia and Iran. In trade policy, it’s China. These examples show that, ultimately, we are no longer achieving…the dissemination of our European values nor the advancement of our interests.
[Should Europe be feared?] No, not feared. On the contrary. Countries that work with us should feel safer than they would if they worked with non-democratic regimes. Why isn’t Europe building infrastructure in Africa instead of leaving it to the Chinese? Why haven’t we succeeded in promoting the economic development of our neighbors in the Balkans, instead conceding these countries to growing Russian influence? In an uncomfortable world, we Europeans can no longer sit back and wait for the USA.
Maybe the US being the world’s policeman wasn’t—isn’t—such a bad thing, after all. For all that, maybe Europe—if it can reach actual and durable consensus—and in particular Germany, stepping up more and taking on more of their own global security responsibilities isn’t such a bad thing, either.