Rarely has a meeting weighed so heavily on a country’s destiny. Angela Merkel’s visit to the White House on Monday is, however, one of these moments that can change the course of history. In Washington, Pentagon hawks and defenders of an outdated concept of America’s power never stop mounting the pressure to massively arm Ukraine. Will Barack Obama give in?
Until now, the American president has refused the military option, even if it’s indirect. Arguments made by the German chancellor, who is against sending lethal weapons to the Ukrainian army, could hit the nail on the head with Barack Obama who devotes not only his friendship to Merkel, but also a profound respect. In this sense, the Democratic president has never been as European.
In the United States, however, the drums of war sound louder than ever. Chuck Hagel’s possible successor at the head of the Pentagon, Ashton Carter, is in favor of arming Ukraine. Since the 2003 Iraq war, it has been thought that Europeans and Americans had finally overcome their differences, but the very same fractures could come to the surface. In the United States, there seems to be little understanding of the Europeans, who are seen as being incapable of measuring the current security issues, while they simply fear the breaking up of Europe’s unity.
Nothing could better illustrate these differences than what happened at the Munich Security Conference. The Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, wasn't far from calling Angela Merkel a failure of a Munich woman by accusing her of “abandoning” Ukraine. In Washington, the anti-Russian lobby even went as far as spreading the theory that Vladimir Putin is affected by Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. Some papers urge the West to be realistic concerning the head of the Kremlin, who only has one object: take over Ukraine and restore the Soviet Union.
Although it is true that, since his re-election in 2012, the Russian president has gone far beyond restoring Russia’s wounded honor after the chaos of the 1990s by flouting the fundamental and constitutive principles of the postwar European order and of international law, the West has also been incapable of removing its doubts over Ukraine’s possible membership in NATO. If it clearly stated its opposition, then perhaps, we wouldn't be asking ourselves if we were on the dawn of a European war with incalculable consequences.