Joe Biden and Olaf Scholz

There is no moral center in Europe, European states act only under American leadership.

(Photo: IMAGO/Sammy Minkoff)

Joe Biden was angry with himself. “There is no moral center in Europe,” he thundered as he paced between the rows of seats in the US Senate. Without US intervention, “the genocide will spread like a cancer.”

Almost 30 years have passed since this action, then Washington was concerned about the war in the Balkans and the inability of the Europeans to stop the bloodshed on their continent.

A lot has happened since then. Biden was vice president under Barack Obama, then a political pensioner. Now, at the age of 80, he himself is the head of the United States government. The President’s hair has grown thinner and grayer, and words no longer flow from him as they used to.

But Biden’s assessment of December 13, 1995 still applies: there is no moral center in Europe, European states only act under American leadership.

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The Balkan war has changed nothing, and even the impact of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine is apparently not enough to create a Europe that is united in terms of foreign policy and capable of acting. The tipping point finds its limits where things get dangerous.

German tactics met with little understanding, especially in Eastern and Northern Europe.

That applies in particular to Foreign Minister Olaf Scholz, who has been delaying the decision on the delivery of Leopard 2 tanks to the Ukrainians for days. Only with the Americans, that’s how Scholz would like it.

The fact that it makes little military sense to send the US Abrams main battle tank, a fuel guzzler that requires maintenance, to Ukraine plays only a minor role for the Foreign Ministry. Scholz sees the Abrams as a kind of reinsurance. Once little brother, always little brother.

German tactics are met with little understanding, especially in Eastern and Northern Europe in the immediate vicinity of Russia, where it is feared that if the Ukraine splits up, they will become the target of the next Russian attack. And the US government is also angry that it is already giving up so much more than the Europeans and has to justify itself to Congress.

>> Read also here: “Useless” and “disappointing”: Frustration with Germany’s no to tanks

It is true that Scholz is faced with decisions whose scope could hardly be greater. He has repeatedly expressed concern that Russia may use nuclear weapons. The risk of escalation is real, at least not zero. By the way, the Americans see it that way too, and that is precisely why they are withholding attack drones, medium-range missiles, and fighter jets from Ukraine.

europe column

Every week, Moritz Koch, head of the Handelsblatt office in Brussels, analyzes trends and conflicts, regulatory projects and strategic concepts of the internal functioning of the EU, alternating with other Brussels correspondents. Because anyone interested in business needs to know what’s going on in Brussels. You can locate it at: [email protected]

However, Germany has already promised tanks: the Gepard anti-aircraft tank, for example, is in use in Ukraine, as is the 2000 self-propelled howitzer. The Marder armored personnel carrier will follow in March.

The Chancellor explains why the Leopard 2 could represent a whole new quality No, and he is fueling speculation in Brussels that he would prefer a stalemate to a successful Ukrainian counter-offensive.

Trying to take cover behind the US is also likely to have consequences. Europe’s biggest economic power is showing signs that it would rather continue than lead. That is legitimate, but it means: goodbye, European sovereignty.

More: That’s how many Leopard 2s the European NATO countries have.

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