Seen it this light, the US assault on the world’s existing trade system becomes less of a mystery. It is not a discussion about tariffs or Ricardian theories of comparative advantage. It is about geopolitics. This is much more threatening for Germany.It also makes it all the more important that we work to keep Germany tied tightly into a Western European alliance (EU and NATO). Yes, it's all about geopolitics - not the stale Nazi lebensraum variety but the cerebral Kissinger realpolitik kind.
This is how the theory goes. The global core remains pivoted around Poland, and comprises the nations of Mitteleuropa from the Danish border to Croatia, the Baltic lands, Ukraine, Eastern Europe north of Bulgaria, and Western Russia. This core is both self sufficient in energy, grain and most raw materials and is wholly-land connected. Around the core is the 'rimland' - connected by land to the core. Beyond the 'rimland' are the 'islands' - Britain, the New World, Japan, Oceania, which depend on the seas and ships for trade and defence. There is a continual and tectonic struggle for power and dominance between the three regions.
Following the fall of the Wall in 1989 both Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote of the importance of maintaining focus on the core - it was not, as Fukuyama so naively claimed, the 'end of history' and Russia and Germany remained the focus of global policy and international strategy.
After Russia, the second geopolitical threat traditionally remained Germany and, as Mackinder had feared ninety years ago, its partnership with Russia. During the Cold War, Kissinger argues, both sides of the Atlantic recognised that, "unless America is organically involved in Europe, it would be obliged to involve itself later under circumstances far less favourable to both sides of the Atlantic. That is even more true today. Germany has become so strong that existing European institutions cannot by themselves strike a balance between Germany and its European partners. Nor can Europe, even with Germany, manage (Russia) by itself. It is in no country's interest that Germany and Russia should fixate on each other as principal partner."And it's not just one-way. America alone cannot contain the endogenous expansionism of the core; "Without America, Britain and France cannot cope with Germany and Russia" and "without Europe, America could turn … into an island off the shores of Eurasia."
The aims of this geopolitics are summed up in the classic aims of British diplomacy - "To keep the Americans in, the Germans down and the Russians out" and the fall of the wall hasn't changed a thing.
And there you have it. Trump knows he must both weaken Germany and keep her tied into the Rimland - this I think is that to which AEP alludes. And Brexit is no more than a re balancing that confirms Britain's geopolitical place amongst the nations of 'the islands' rather than tied to the rimland.
And it doesn't really matter whether you or I believe this analysis or not - it's clearly part of the understanding of the Davos and Bilderberg class. It's also a framework that allows one to place global players in support or otherwise of the three competing blocs. And explains a lot.