Life after Brain Death: Options for the Weimar Triangle Countries
European countries differ on how to respond to the disruption created by Donald Trump’s United States. Friends and allies in Warsaw, Berlin, and Paris disagree with each other. They do not read the foreign policy environment in quite the same way, resulting in divergent strategic outlooks. This has been known for some time, but President Emmanuel Macron’s comments about NATO being “brain dead” and the subsequent NATO leader’s meeting have put these differences into stark relief.
Should Europe adopt strategic autonomy (as France advocates), strategic embrace (Poland’s choice), or strategic patience (Germany’s way)? Paris wants to win time while Berlin wants to buy time. To France, the German response looks like sleepwalking while the Polish choice seems like a delusional bet. But for Berlin and Warsaw, Paris’ choice appears to be impatient and self-defeating. At least three factors drive these differing assessments: the degree to which the changes in the United States are seen as cyclical or structural, the assessment of the threat that Russia poses, and the availability of nuclear weapons under national control.
To discuss these questions, the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Gemeinnützige Hertie Stiftung will bring together 25 foreign policy experts from France, Poland, and Germany for a one-day scoping seminar in Berlin. The goal is not to produce some artificial consensus, but to dive deep into the three countries' strategic outlook, understand the roots of their political preferences, and scrutinize the political viability of their choices within the EU and NATO. The seminar will seek to identify research ideas and work proposals for think tanks, designed to enable experts and analysts to make a more useful contribution to the most important strategic debate of our time.