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最近,德国柏林公交集团(BVG)在美国总统大选前发布的一幅宣传画火了:

来源:BVG 2020

 

大意是:作为一家公共企业,我们不可以透露乐见谁胜选,所以我们希望“两个”都赢,只能说这么多了。德语的“两个”是beiden,而BVG巧妙地将字母E用一个大星遮挡,就成了biden(拜登)。这虽然只是一个段子,但却淋漓尽致地反映了德国各界精英和广大群众压倒性的倾向,即希望拜登击败Trump。

 

自Trump入主白宫这近四年来,德美关系每况愈下,德国人对Trump的鄙视和憎恨愈演愈烈。除了右翼的AfD外,绝大多数政界人士都热切盼望Trump下台;而普通德国人,根据民调机构Civey的调查,只有13%希望Trump连任。那么,德国朝野上下为何压倒性地憎恨Trump呢?原因不一而足,民众无法接受Trump特立独行的非典型政客作风,而政治家则更多是不满Trump对待德国和欧洲盟友的政策。

 

Trump在白宫这近四年,把世界搅了一个天翻地覆,德美关系也备受考验。在德国眼里,Trump推行咄咄逼人的“America First”政策让德美关系严重承压(其实所有美国总统都是America First,区别仅在于与国际社会的融合和协作程度)。Trump利用每一个机会敲打德国提高军费开支(德国优越的福利制度,前提是较低的国防开支。德国2019年的军费开支占GDP比重仅为1.3%,没有达到北约规定的2%),要求德国禁止中国的华为公司参与建设5G网络,并公然威胁制裁德俄合作的北溪二号天然气管线项目,还悍然退出欧洲盟友极其看重的巴黎气候协议和伊朗核协议。

 

美国是二战后自由主义国际秩序的创建者,并在冷战结束后将其扩大至全球范围。但是,由于全球化的负面效应导致美国民粹主义力量崛起,并将Trump送入白宫。他领导下的政府表现出强烈的孤立主义倾向,并不惜打破美国自身所创建的国际秩序。

 

如果说Trump我行我素的单边主义让德国这个美国的忠实盟国无所适从的话,那么他让美国的战略重心从欧洲转向印太地区则让柏林心生怨气。自二战结束以来的七十余年,作为北约的盟主,美国一直是西德等西欧国家的安全保护神,其战略重心一直在欧洲,是跨大西洋体系当之无愧的主心骨。但由于中国的急速崛起并成为美国霸权的最大挑战者,美国的战略重心正逐渐转向印太地区。而这个进程并非始于Trump,早在Obama时期,美国就在不与盟国磋商的情况下推出了“亚太再平衡”战略,那时就让德国等欧洲盟友忧心忡忡。而Trump政府则加快了美国的战略调整步伐,将“太平洋司令部”改名为“印太司令部”,并把60%以上的海军力量陈兵印太。对此,德国等欧洲盟国深感忧虑,因为多年来他们已经习惯了美国强大力量在欧洲的存在。没有美国的保护,俄国随时可以侵门踏户蹂躏欧洲,普京已经在克里米亚和东乌克兰展示了他强行改变欧洲地缘政治现状的意愿和能力。Trump表现出移情别恋的姿态,他多次称“北约已经过时”,印太地区对于美国的战略重要性似乎正在压倒北大西洋地区。德国和欧盟对美国的这一战略调整心存疑虑并流露出怨妇心态。

 

对于欧盟国家来说,当年成立北约的意义就在于让“美国人进来,俄国人出去,德国人趴下”(“Americans in, Russians out, Germans down”)。而Trump却摆出一幅要走的架势,让欧洲独自面对俄国这个强敌。为此,德国(欧洲)人将被迫提高军费,优越的福利制度将大受影响,他们能不痛恨Trump吗?如果说这仅仅是担忧,那么Trump在未与德国商量的情况下,就撤走三分之一驻德美军,则让德国感到他是在动真格。其实,德国(欧洲)作为美国在意识形态、地缘政治和安全防务等方面的忠实盟友,是不可能被美国所抛弃的,只不过Trump惯于采用“极限施压”手法,玩弄边缘政策,着实让德国人感到惊恐。另一方面,Trump看似单边主义的鲁莽举动很大程度上是一种手段而非目标,其用意在于展现坚定意志,以让盟友追随,让对手屈服。这也许是Trump一生纵横商界、娱乐圈和政界的秘诀所在。对他来说,这或许是领导力的精髓:只有首先展现出义无反顾的坚定决心,才能吸引追随者;如果自己都拿不定主意,又有谁会死心塌地地追随,对手又怎会屈服?Trump之所以任用人尽皆知的大鹰派John Bolton为国家安全顾问(此公是真正的战争狂),并非真的要发动战争,而是要震慑对手。他曾经说过,“我喜欢Bolton的唯一一点是,所有人都认为他疯了。当你和他一起走进房间时,你就处于有利的谈判地位,因为别人觉得如果Bolton在那里,你就会发动战争。” 可见,Bolton所起的作用是震慑对手的鹰犬。

 

在对华政策方面,Trump政府这几年的凌厉组合拳,确实向其盟友展示了要扭转历届前任的“绥靖主义”并阻止中国挑战美国的坚强决心。对此,德国等盟友已经不再有任何怀疑。其实,德国并不抱怨Trump发动了对华贸易战,而是不满他没有带上欧洲伙伴一起上。在德国人看来,这很不多边主义。德国国防部长在10月23日的一次讲话中就说,作为一个出口大国,德国在很多方面与美国一样批评中国,比如所谓长期以来的“货币操纵、侵犯知识产权、投资环境不对等和国家补贴扭曲竞争”等等,德国愿意分担美国作为国际秩序领导者的负担。德国外长也迫不及待地要向白宫新主人提出构建“跨大西洋新议程”。

 

作为一个政治素人,Trump是一个十足的破坏者。但历史的诡异之处就在于,破坏者往往是天降大任、应运而生。在历史的转折关头,常常是不破不立,先破后立。毛也曾说过,从天下大乱再到天下大治。Trump在白宫折腾四年,对美国内外政策传统进行破坏和解构的历史使命已经完成。无论是Biden入主白宫,还是Trump留任,美国的对华竞争和对抗态势已经形成。诚如基辛格所言,“中美关系再也回不到从前了”。下一步将是进入“联盟构建”阶段(alliance building),而这正是民主党的强项和一贯主张。联盟构建将首先是在印太地区,欧洲盟国将介入并为美国分忧解难。法国和德国已经相继公布了各自的印太战略,英国提出了“民主十国”机制(原G7成员加上印太地区的印度、澳大利亚和韩国三个民主国家),这些都是值得高度注意的动向。如果“民主十国”联盟得以建立,那么一个“大西洋体系+印太战略”对欧亚大陆(中、俄、伊朗)的地缘政治铁壁合围就正在出现,由此重演历史上经典的海权围堵陆权战略。Biden上台,民主党政府将发挥其特长加强与盟国协调行动,德国无疑对此充满期待。Trump当政时期的怨妇心态将烟消云散,一个德(欧)美密切协作、郎情妾意的时代将大概率回归。

来源:作者自制

Germany is happy with the leadership change in the U.S.

As the U.S. presidential election is in a stalemate, a poster released by the Berlin Public Transportation Group (BVG) in Germany ahead of the election is widespread. The idea of the poster is that, as a public enterprise, BVG can’t reveal who they’d like to support, so they want “both” to win, and that’s all they can say. The German word for “both” is “beiden”, and BVG’s clever way of covering the “E” with a big star makes it “biden”. This is only a humor, but it is an exact reflection of the majority attitude of the German elites and people that they want Biden to beat Trump.

 

Since Trump took the White House nearly four years ago, the relationship between Germany and the U.S. has been deteriorating, while Germany’s contempt and hatred against Trump have been growing. Except the right-wing AfD, the vast majority of politicians are eagerly awaiting Trump’s ouster, while only 13% of ordinary Germans, according to a survey by pollster Civey, hope Trump will be re-elected. So why do Germans overwhelmingly hate Trump? The reasons are diverse. The ordinary Germans cannot accept Trump’s idiosyncratic and atypical style of being a U.S. President, while the politicians are more dissatisfied with Trump’s policies toward Germany and European allies.

 

Trump has been in the White House for nearly four years, turning the world upside down and putting German-American relations to the test. In the eyes of Germany, Trump’s aggressive “America First” policy has put a serious strain on German-American relations (actually, all American presidents pursue “America First” policy, the only difference is the degree of integration and collaboration with the international community). Trump has used every opportunity to force Germany to raise its military spending, demand Germany to ban China’s Huawei from participating in the construction of its 5G network, and openly threaten sanctions against the German-Russian cooperation on the North Stream II gas pipeline project. In addition, the Trump administration has brazenly withdrawn from the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Iran nuclear deal, which are of great importance to its European allies.

 

The U.S. was the creator of the post-World War II liberal international order and expanded it worldwide after the end of the Cold War. However, the negative effects of globalization led to the rise of populist forces in the U.S. and made Trump the President, his administration showed strong isolationist tendencies and is willing to break the international order created by the U.S. itself.

 

Trump’s unilateralism in his own way made Germany, a faithful ally of the U.S., confused. In addition, he shifted the U.S. strategic focus from Europe to the Indo-Pacific region, making Berlin worry about losing the protection of the U.S. Since the end of World War II, as the leader of the NATO allies, the U.S. has been the security provider of West Germany and Western European countries, its strategic focus has always been in Europe. But due to the rapid rise of China as the biggest challenger to U.S. hegemony, the U.S. strategic focus is gradually shifting to the Indo-Pacific region. This process did not begin with Trump, but Obama, who launched the “Asia-Pacific rebalance.” The Trump administration has just accelerated the pace of strategic adjustment of the U.S. Now the “Pacific Command” has been renamed to “Indo-Pacific Command,” and more than 60% of U.S. naval forces are being deployed in Indo-Pacific. Thus, Germany and other European allies are deeply worried, because for many years they have been accustomed to the presence of strong American power in Europe. Without U.S. protection, Russia can invade and ravage Europe at any time, and Putin has already demonstrated his willingness and ability to forcefully change European geopolitical status quo in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. However, Trump claimed “NATO has become obsolete.” The Indo-Pacific region seems to be more important for the U.S. than the North Atlantic region in strategic terms. 

 

For the EU countries, NATO was created to let “Americans in, Russians out, and Germans down.” But now Trump is probably letting Europe to deal with Russia alone. Thus, how can Germany (Europe) not hate Trump? If this is merely a concern, then Trump’s withdrawal of one-third of the U.S. troops deployed in Germany without consulting with Angela Merkel makes Germany feel that he is serious. In fact, Germany (Europe) as the faithful ally of the U.S. in terms of ideology, geopolitics and defense, it is impossible to be abandoned by the U.S. However, Trump’s habit of using “extreme pressure” tactics really makes Germany worried. In fact, Trump’s reckless unilateral moves aim only to show his firm will, his purpose is to force allies yield rather than make it happen. The reason why Trump appointed the well-known hawk John Bolton, who is a true warmonger, as his National Security Advisor is not to wage war, but to deter his opponents. He once said that when I appear at the negotiating table with John Bolton, my opponents will not doubt my threat.

 

In terms of China, the Trump administration’s hardline policies in the past few years have indeed demonstrated its strong determination to reverse the “appeasement” of its predecessors and prevent China from challenging the U.S. hegemony. Thus, Germany and other allies no longer have any doubt. In fact, Germany is not complaining that Trump has launched a trade war against China, but rather that he has not brought his European allies together with him. To the Germans, this is not a multilateralist approach. Germany’s defense minister said in a speech on October 23 that, as a major exporting country, Germany shared American criticisms against China, such as long-standing “currency manipulation, intellectual property rights violations, unequal investment condition and state subsidies.” Germany is willing to share the burden of the U.S. as the leader of the international order. The German foreign minister is also eager to present a “new transatlantic agenda” to the new boss in White House. 

 

As a political newcomer, Trump is a total saboteur. But the weird thing about history is that saboteurs are often chosen to destroy the established order. At turning points in history, it’s often a case that destruction comes before construction. Trump’s four-year stint in the White House has accomplished his historic mission of disrupting and deconstructing the traditions of American domestic and foreign policy. Whether Biden is in the White House or Trump stays in power, the U.S. has formed a competitive and confrontational position toward China. As Kissinger mentioned, “the Sino-American relations will never be the same again.” The next step will be to enter the “alliance building” phase, which is the advantage of the Democratic Party and it has always advocated. The “alliance building” will first be in the Indo-Pacific region, while the European allies of the U.S. will also intervene and share the burdens of the U.S. France and Germany have already published their respective strategies for the Indo-Pacific region, and the UK’s proposed “Democracy 10” mechanism (the original G7 members plus the three democracies of India, Australia and South Korea in Indo-Pacific) is a highly noteworthy development. If the “Democracy 10” alliance can be established, then an geopolitical iron wall of “North Atlantic and Indo-Pacific” around Eurasia (China, Russia and Iran) is emerging, thus repeating the classic strategy of sea power encircling land power. If Biden seizes power, the Democratic government will perform better in coordinating and collaborating with U.S. allies and partners. Thus, Germany is undoubtedly full of expectations that a close partnership with the U.S. will be returning.