Geopolitics

German Fears Of New "Axis Of Evil" — Trump, Putin, Erdogan

Not much is known for sure of Trump's foreign policy agenda, which is why Angela Merkel does not stop at the perfunctory congratulations to Donald Trump.

Worried Angela Merkel
Worried Angela Merkel
Thorsten Denkler

-Analysis-

BERLIN â€" No one in Brussels or Berlin expected this to happen. Donald Trump will become the next president of the United States of America. Germany, and Europe as a whole, will now have to get ready for someone in the White House who does not seem to share any of the same values that defined the German-American and European-American relationships in the decades since the end of World War II.

What exactly Trump wants and which values he does stand for, is still really anyone's guess. He did not formulate any concrete plans but rather hinted here and there at where this, his journey, might take us. We should assume, nonetheless that his “America First” rhetoric will also guide the new paradigm in regards to U.S. foreign policy.

In addition to that, no one, probably not even Trump himself, knows who he will choose to serve in his cabinet. He will not feel obliged to provide posts to the Republican establishment, which did not want him to be their candidate and includes many who publicly refused to support him. Like their counterparts around the world, the German diplomatic corps will most likely find themselves working with people they've never even heard of.

Trump's first meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel will be very interesting, to say the least. Merkel, it is known, cannot stand people like Trump. She decided to approach Russian President Vladimir Putin with a stern gaze â€" and most say that she has earned his respect. But Trump? He will be the leader of Germany’s most important and trusted ally, and yet has no track record in international relations. Will he be impressed by a stern gaze?

Merkel is enough of a political realist to not refuse Trump outright, and was indeed quick to congratulate him on his victory. But she also found it necessary to point out the basis on which their mutual cooperation will have to be based, namely “democracy, freedom, respect for the law and the dignity of each human being, independent of their origin, skin color, religion, sex, sexual or political orientation.”

The chancellor will most definitely have to prepare herself for tough negotiations, starting with the future of NATO. The members of the military alliance are encouraged to spend 2% of their GDP on their armed forces budget. The U.S. invests 3.5% of its GDP, while as the biggest European country, Germany, spends just 1.3%.

Trump had said during the campaign that if the other NATO states don't stick to the 2% minimum, the U.S. would not come to their aid if the alliance's mutual defense agreement is invoked. This could sound like the beginning of the end for NATO, knowing that even Germany would never manage to push through a rise in military spending of 0.7%.

But the hard choices don't stop there, with all eyes on the European Union as well. Trump considers the EU to be utter nonsense, and cheered the UK's Brexit referendum victory.

Duping Angela?

Thus the EU, and Merkel in particular, will no longer be able to count on U.S. support for varying crisis spots in and around Europe â€" including Ukraine. In fact, quite the opposite, as Trump edges ever closer to Russia's Putin. It is quite possible that one of Trump’s first official actions will be to recognize Crimea as part of Russia. If that were to happen, Merkel would look like she'd been duped. And not just in that case alone. Through very difficult negotiations with Russia she has been, and still is, trying to bring about a peaceful solution to the Crimean conflict.

President Obama had given her free rein, noting that Europeans should take more responsibility for what happens right outside their front door. But Merkel could always count on Obama’s support. That, however, will no longer be the case.

On Syria, Trump will most likely steer clear, leaving Putin a free hand in this still raging conflict, including the Russian and Assad bombing of civilian areas. This would be an unraveling of the Western consensus to target ISIS and simultaneously prevent a new Russian dominance over Arab countries.

Of course, the Arab world also hears Trump's anti-Islamic rhetoric including his call for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. This will make already difficult negotiations in that part of the world even harder.

Still Trump does claim a circle of friends in the Muslim world, which includes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom the president-elect had praised after the failed coup attempt in July.

U.S. relations with Iran could also prove to be dangerous with Trump at the helm, after the Republican has repeatedly criticized the nuclear deal that President Obama and European allies signed with Tehran.

Meanwhile, accords on free trade and climate change are also at serious risk of being scrapped by a Trump administration that sees them as drags on the American economy.

Such is the outline of Trump’s “America first” strategy, getting the U.S. involved when he feels that direct national interests are in danger.

From a European point of view, the world is now facing a new axis of evil led by Trump, Putin and Erdogan. We may see French nationalist Marine Le Pen added to the club if she is elected France's president in May.

No one knows for sure if Trump really does plan to forge such an isolationist foreign policy for the U.S., which would inevitably lead other parts of the world into a series of unfathomable crises. But right now, the future looks to be bleak, extremely bleak.
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Green

In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat


CAUCHARI
— Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.


It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park

Xinhua/ZUMA

Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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