Weekly cables

Week 18 - 2017

A two-speed Europe and the upcoming US-Germany clash

Despite being touted as the next phase of the European project, two-speed Europe is actually the formalization of Germany’s sphere of influence in the heart of the continent, comprising those countries being part of Germany’s supply chain and part of Mitteleuropa (plus Northern Italy). While Poland would be excluded and France will have to decide whether to be in a German-dominated space. After years spent guessing when Europe’s most dysfunctional countries would leave the most advanced stage of European integration, it will be Germany to carve its own political entity off the European Union. It would be the so-called Kerneuropa (Euro-nucleus), sporting distinct geopolitical features. It will be mostly anti-Turkish, in order to stem Ankara’s influence in the Balkans and among Turkish communities across Europe; inherently anti-American as for Berlin to retrieve some room for maneuver; and mildly pro-Russian to deescalate tensions in Eastern Europe and balance off America’s influence. A development inevitably bound in the next years to trigger America’s strong reaction, setting the stage for a US-Germany clash in the heart of Europe.

US Congress doesn’t want Trump to rip up the nuclear deal with Iran

As they’re preparing a bill to slap new sanctions on Iran, American lawmakers are also acting to hinder the White House from scrapping the nuclear deal altogether. After delaying the bill in the Senate over concerns about Iran's May presidential election, in which President Hassan Rouhani could lose to conservative candidates against any opening to the West, many congressmen, both democrats and republicans, are now warning President Trump not to rip up the deal. Making clear they’re looking for ways to enforce engagement with Iran, rather than getting out of it. A position also shared by the US defense and security apparatus, which bodes well for the future implementation of the deal.

Trump, his imperial narrative and a trip to the Vatican

According to his plan, Donald Trump’s visit to the Vatican, scheduled for May 24, should boost his credentials as the ultimate defender of Christian values and religious liberty. His nationalist stance notwithstanding, Trump is now conscious that leading an empire such as America necessarily needs a universalistic narrative and he believes he found his own in pledging to protect Christians around the world, while upholding their conservative values. As proved by one of his last executive orders, which promotes religious liberty and allows tax-exempt churches to actively participate in politics. The same makeover pursued by Vladimir Putin, a nationalist leader in a historically imperial environment, who as of late has been trying to advertise himself as the guardian of Christian values. In the end, Trump will have to resort to the old American imperial narrative - centered around human rights and free trade – but with his next trip to the Vatican he is (unsuccessfully) trying to change his fate.