On Thursday German Chancellor Olaf Scholz published a very interesting – and probably historic – essay in Politico. “We don’t want to decouple from China,” the headline ran, “but can’t be overreliant”. Yet this somewhat banal statement papered over some radical claims in the text. Consider the following paragraph:
No country is the “backyard” of another. What is true in Europe regarding Ukraine is also true in Asia, Africa or Latin America. It is here that new centers of power are emerging in a multipolar world, and we aim to establish and expand partnerships with all of them. Thus, in recent months, we have carried out in-depth coordination at the international level — with close partners such as Japan and Korea, India and Indonesia, and countries in Africa and Latin America too. At the end of next week, I will travel to Southeast Asia and the G20 summit, and while I’m visiting China, Germany’s federal president will be in Japan and Korea.
Note the highlighted text: Scholz and the German government take for granted that what is emerging is a multipolar world; and they intend to become flexible in their foreign policy, to take advantage of this. Scholz’s vision is directly opposed to the rhetoric coming out of Washington DC. The Americans believe the new strategy should be to hunker down and reduce engagement with the non-Western world in order to preserve Western – or, more properly, American – hegemony.
Until very recently, writing articles pointing to the emerging multipolar world (and the ensuing geopolitical landscape) was enough to get you attacked on Twitter. I have been writing about this since March, and have been denounced as everything from a Putin apologist to a stooge of the Chinese government. Yet now a major world leader is saying the same thing. Suppressing this nascent reality will now become all but impossible: the genie is out of the bottle.