I can only think of German interest colliding with the USA's in the form of Nordstream pipelines, and Turkish interest colliding with the USA's in the form of trying to liberate its foreign policy in the form of buying S-400, etc. Other than that, I can't recall any other countries in the USA's alliance community whose interests are seen to be colliding with the USA's interests.

This is baffling to me. As two countries cannot have 100% similarity in the area of interests. Right?

So, how do they manage their collisions?

Why does the US state interest seem to be in clash with Russia's and China's but not with other big guns in its alliances?

  • 1
    Comments deleted. Remember that comment sections are supposed to be used to improve the question, not to answer it. If you want to answer the question, then please write a real answer which adheres to our quality standards. Which means a detailed, unbiased and well-sourced answer.
    – Philipp
    Apr 26, 2021 at 8:41
  • US had a heated rivalry with Japan in the 1980's, which rose to a level of cultural obsession not unlike the US-China situation today.
    – Pete W
    Jun 1, 2021 at 3:44
  • The US even has differences with Canada, e.g. oil pipelines & lumber.
    – jamesqf
    Jun 1, 2021 at 15:56
  • How can allies and adversaries be compared in this question? Shouldn’t it be expected that adversaries are going to have more conflicts than allies?
    – Joe W
    Nov 5, 2023 at 20:39

4 Answers 4


German and US interests collide frequently, but on balance the similarity of other interests is great enough to make that relatively noiseless. A very partial list, in additon to Nordstream:

  • They disagreed about leaving the JCPOA with Iran.
  • They disagreed about the 2003 Iraq war. A good example, Germany did not joint but it permitted the use of bases in Germany.
  • Germany complained about the US spying on Germany, but again they saw benefit in allowing the US to spy from Germany on others, and getting some of the take.
  • Then there is the subsidy-and-tariff battle between Airbus and Boeing.

Summarized, Germany wants trade with the US and the US wants trade with Germany; Germany is more like the US than Russia or China (but less so than, say, the UK), so not every disagreement escalates to sanctions.

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    In terms of the spying issue as I understand it every country spies on every other country. They all know it's happening and accept it. Germany only bothered to complain at all because Snowden made the fact that US spied on other states so public that they figured it warranted a token response. I can practically guarantee Germany is also spying on the USA, the USA knows it, and just figures it's inevitable so it's not worth making a big deal over.
    – dsollen
    Apr 30, 2021 at 14:20
  • @dsollen This is a common argument made in this discussion to defend the US. It is generally not shared by Germany and other EU countries. They do not spy on each other (at least in the sense of telling their secret service to bug the telecom equipment of the other countries politicians) so they don't agree with that argument.
    – quarague
    Nov 6, 2023 at 7:31

I can't recall any other countries in the USA's alliance community whose interests are seen to be colliding with the USA's interests.

The premise is flawed. The U.S. has conflicts with almost every country in the world over one thing or another, which is why we have on the order of 30,000 full time employees in the U.S. State Department to deal with all of those conflicts.

For example, there are huge conflicts between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia over human rights and its treatment of people who have dealings with or affiliations with the United States. But the U.S. also has a realpolitik need for the U.S. and its allies to have normal trade relations for Saudi Arabia because its a key source of oil which is a key factor of production in the economy of almost every country on Earth that trades in a global market that influences every oil importing or exporting nation indirectly, even if they don't themselves actually import oil from Saudi Arabia. The U.S. also has made it a strong priority to protect Israel (the subject of other questions at this site) and arms sales and subsidies to Saudi Arabia from the U.S. are made in substantial part to prevent it from going to war against Israel.

But there are differences with every country from the U.K. to Canada to France to Japan and Korea that are its allies.

Also a comparison between "the USA's alliance community" whatever that is, and China and Russia, on the other hand, with whom the U.S. also has normal diplomatic relations and is not strictly speaking an enemy of, is confusing. At a military level, the U.S. views those countries are potential military threats in a way that few other countries other than Iran and North Korea are viewed, but at a diplomatic international dealings level there is no categorical differences between China and Russia on one hand, and other countries on the other.


The most economically powerful members of the American alliance (Germany and Japan) do have natural clashes of interest with America, much as China and Russia do. The difference is that these conflicts of self-interest were decisively resolved in America's favor. Germany and Japan tried to address their differences of interest with the US by fighting with the US, with disastrous results for them. So they settled for being junior partners of America.


The interest clashing with someone is never beneficial. Russia and China may be the exception, instead of the "other big guns".

The problem is, by having difficulties with Russia and China, the US may make the "other big guns" also have difficulties with them, somewhat willing and somewhat forced. And the US actually has much more flexible rules to deal with Russia and China than any followers could possibly have, if the US saw something is actually harming itself. For example, it may keep something as an overly long warning, and it may make a lot of exemptions.

The US may benefit from Russia and China clashing with the "other big guns", that is, the other parts of the world clashing with each other. Whether this is intentional or a side effect, the US would feel less damage resulted from clashing with Russia and China, so the will to change is low.

On the other hand, by clashing with European countries, Russia and China will not follow, and the two would actually benefit instead of the US.

The simplest way of not creating too much troubles is simply to do nothing, or just deal with the problems themselves instead of escalating.

To escalate, one would attempt to define categories, try to infer the other side is already "planning" something in the category (or they did something little but really for the bigger plan in the whole category) from some analysis, and make first moves in this category themselves for uncertainty and distrust. The implementation stage beside the event order get lost on general people's perceiving of media.

But it's 2021 and government bodies should already have departments researching everything that important. They don't reasonably ignore something, notice something and suddenly feel the imminent need of overreaction. If they notice something, and it's not a missile launching or an attempted murder of a person (or maybe the pollution of shared environment), they are supposed to have the ability to calmly finish their research, instead of making loose categories satisfying their own usual way of thinking, and it won't be too late because this thing most likely already happened a while ago anyway.

In any case, if someone is really able to escalate something instead of just saying, escalating really needs more steps than not today, and is at least supposed to be slow if not deliberate.

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