Big clash loom­ing

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY COSTAS IORDANIDIS

The United States and Ger­many are gear­ing up for a se­ri­ous clash. Wash­ing­ton’s aim this time is not Ger­many’s mil­i­tary de­feat, as was the case twice last cen­tury, but curb­ing its eco­nomic hege­mony. Be­fore be­ing sworn in as US pres­i­dent, Don­ald Trump said that he be­lieved Ber­lin was us­ing the Euro­pean Union as a ve­hi­cle for its fur­ther eco­nomic ex­pan­sion, and the ty­coon was right on the money. Speak­ing to the BBC a few days ago, the man tipped as Amer­ica’s new am­bas­sador to the Euro­pean Union, Ted Mal­loch, ex­pressed his be­lief that the euro could col­lapse within the next 18 months. It was a risky pre­dic­tion, but sug­ges­tive of the views pre­vail­ing in Wash­ing­ton right now. The third wor­ry­ing state­ment came from the head of the US pres­i­dent’s Na­tional Trade Coun­cil, Peter Navarro, who told the Fi­nan­cial Times that the euro is a Ger­man cur­rency in dis­guise – an apt ob­ser­va­tion – that is “grossly un­der­val­ued” so that Ger­many can re­tain a com­pet­i­tive edge over the United States. His com­ment is noth­ing short of a di­rect chal­lenge and a sign of a more se­ri­ous con­fronta­tion wait­ing to hap­pen. What is ex­tremely in­ter­est­ing is that Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble, the most fer­vent of cham­pi­ons of mon­e­tary sta­bil­ity and the euro, has so far avoided mak­ing a re­sponse. Maybe he is aware that when it comes to the US, his fire­power is some­what lim­ited, so he con­tains his barbs to judg­men­tal com­ments against Greece and ter­ror­iz­ing Europe’s south. Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel mut­tered some­thing about the Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank’s in­de­pen­dence and Euro­pean Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Don­ald Tusk said Trump is a threat to the EU – this is Europe; these are its po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, peo­ple wait­ing in fear for Amer­ica to un­fold its pol­icy. This would all be a mat­ter of aca­demic in­ter­est were it not for the fact that the loom­ing clash be­tween a US-Bri­tish al­liance and the Euro­pean es­tab­lish­ment poses a ma­jor threat to re­gional sta­bil­ity, and of course to Greece. Bad luck and po­lit­i­cal im­pru­dence have re­sulted in Greece be­ing cut off from its own tra­di­tional al­liances with the US and the UK, now es­pe­cially so. Given the re­cent ten­sion with Tur­key and the fact that in pre­vi­ous dif­fi­cult pe­ri­ods Europe stood by as con­flict was avoided only thanks to the US’s in­ter­ven­tion, it is ev­i­dent that there are more im­por­tant is­sues than the pend­ing bailout re­view that Athens should be fo­cus­ing on.

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