The Disintegrating Power Bloc of the Western Powers
(A Short Research Paper)
Brigadier (Retired) Dr Ahsan ur Rahman Khan
Thesis Relating to External Factor
Javier Solana’s article titled ‘The Western Crack-up’ was published by many publication outlets in last week of June 2018. He mentioned that US’ President Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda, as reflected by his refusal to sign the joint G7 communiqué, the incessant slandering of US’ allies by himself and his coreligionists, as also the divergence of US’ foreign policies like that related to Iraq War with the policies of its allies, clearly reflected the crumbling of the Western Bloc, which supposedly rests on a set of common ideological pillars (1).
Javier Solana’s observations and analytical inferences in this article do deserve a careful note, because of his in-depth knowledge of the affairs of the ‘Western Bloc’ – he was EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Secretary-General of NATO, and Foreign Minister of Spain. He is currently President of the ESADE Center for Global Economy and Geopolitics, Distinguished Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Europe (2).
In a resume of the same article Russia in Global Affairs mentioned “By imposing tariffs on US allies and cozying up to brutal dictators such as North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, US President Donald Trump is sowing deep mistrust within the West. But if Trump thinks a divide-and-rule strategy can “make America great again,” he is in for a rude awakening” (3). Javier Solana’s thesis therefore is more focused on his inference that Donald Trump’s “make America great again” or “America first” agenda, being applied in a rather arrogant manner even on the closest of its European Union (EU) allies, is the main cause of the commencement of ‘Western crack-up’ or ‘Disintegration of The Power Bloc of The Western Powers’. His thesis certainly deserves proper examination in relation to the evolving ground realities in the countries of the Western Power Bloc, especially EU.
Thesis Relating to Internal Factors
A similar article titled ‘The Fracturing of the Transatlantic Community’ has been published in the bimonthly magazine The American Interest (4). Its author is Andrew Alexander Michta who is a political scientist and Dean of the College of International and Security Studies at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Germany. Previously he was Professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College. He was also an affiliate of the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, an Adjunct Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies – Europe Program in Washington, DC, and an adjunct political scientist at the RAND Corporation (5).
The Trans Atlantic Community, mentioned in this article, mostly refers to US and Canada on the west and European countries on the east of Atlantic Ocean. The Western Power Bloc comprising of US, EU and Canada also falls in this category.
The underlying ideas of the thesis put forth in this article by Andrew Alexander Michta can be grasped from some of the main assertions of the author in this article: (a) The key tenets of Huntington’s theory of Clash of Civilisations have held out; the forces of the anticipated civilizational clash have accelerated their remaking of the international system. They also continue to reshape the Western democracies from within and without; (b) In the next NATO summit the agenda needs to also include deeper reflection on how to sustain and revitalize the larger bonds that for close to seven decades have maintained the indispensable foundation of allied security; (c) “But what has been missing from the larger debate about NATO’s adaptation is the extent to which national resilience has been failed by decades of postmodern ideological deconstruction, with group identity politics, multiculturalism, and, more recently, the surge in immigration into Europe and the United States, which is redefining the meaning of national communities on both sides of the Atlantic”; (d) “The increasingly serious national security consequences of ideologically polarized and increasingly tribal publics do not seem to register in today’s debate about the collective defense of the West”; and (e) “As a result of immigration, countries that were once the proud lynchpins of Western civilization are increasingly in turmoil, with deepening ethnic and religious divisions and possibly at risk of fracturing”.
Andrew Alexander Michta’s thesis, relating to the cause(s) of ‘The Fracturing of the Transatlantic Community’, thus places more emphasis on two sets of causes: (a) the emergence of rather fiercely competing – if not yet actually clashing – group identities in the Western countries along the societal fault lines of the notions of nationalities, race, religion, and culture, etc. In his view this emerging problem is not only adversely affecting the societal texture of the Western countries internally, but also the state-to-state international relations in the decades’ old established institutions of the Western Bloc, like NATO; and (b) he also asserts that the phenomenon of immigration of people of non-Western countries into Western countries is also causing increasing turmoil “with deepening ethnic and religious divisions and possibly at risk of fracturing” in the Western countries “that were once the proud lynchpins of Western civilization”.
Examination of the Internal Factors Thesis
The first set of causes stated by Andrew Alexander Michta relating to the emergence of the afore-mentioned severely divisive tendencies in the societal texture of Western countries is a correct observation. However, what Andrew Alexander Michta has not mentioned is the fact that these divisive tendencies, along the societal fault lines of the notions of nationalities, race, religion, and culture, etc, are not the ‘newly born’. All those who are acquainted with the history of Europe and US know it well that these notions are factually ingrained due to the centuries-old historical experiences in the psyche of at least those of the nations of the Western countries which prided in their élan relating to their race, religion, culture etc – the recorded history of the hugely bloody wars within and among those nations due to such notional differences provides the undeniable testimony to this fact. What factually had happened that after World War Two the emergence of Soviet Union (USSR) as an aggressively competing and at times even conflicting supper power, which especially threatened West European countries, as also US’ interests abroad, the Western Bloc countries and their public were compelled to forget about their own ‘competing notions’ and get united in two aspects, i.e. – for military purposes under the umbrella of NATO, and for own socio-economic development with much increased mutual trade and economic investment measures. However, after the removal of that threat due to the breakup of USSR, those ‘competing notions’ slowly started emerging again, and are now gaining further strength.
As regards the second set of the causes, relating to the problem of immigration of the people of non-Western countries to Europe and US, Andrew Alexander Michta has again not mentioned the fact that the problem of the influx of migrants / refugees to Europe and US itself is of the making of West European powers and US (the Western Bloc). This influx of migrants / refugees is mostly from the countries which have been extremely inhumanly devastated by the ‘military-imperialism’ of the same Western Bloc – such military devastation of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, etc are the examples.
Examination of the External Factors Thesis
Javier Solana’s assertion, that Donald Trump’s policies and behavior are mainly responsible for the initiation of the breakup of the Western Bloc, can be examined in relation to six aspects: (a) US’ imposition of trade tariffs on even its close Western Bloc allies; (b) US’ mind boggling withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Agreement under which after lot of efforts Iran was compelled in the year 2015 to agree to give up its alleged intentions of producing nuclear weapons; and from the Western Bloc side this Agreement was signed by US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany; (c) US’ militarily aggressive policies in certain areas like Syria thereby destabilising the region of Middle East, which runs counter to the geopolitical interests of certain EU powers; (d) US’ demands from its EU NATO allies to increase their financial contribution for NATO; (e) Trumps’ policies relating to Immigration and ‘Islamophobia’; and (f) Trump’s behavioural problem amounting to slandering, or even at times insulting, US’ allies. The first two of these aspects deserve some explanation for proper understanding, which is given in the succeeding paragraphs.
US’ President Donald Trump strongly complains that US’ EU partners have long been treating US unfairly in mutual trade policies due to which US is constantly suffering trade deficit in relation to such EU countries. Certain US’ own census publications do also support this allegation by Donald Trump. For example US Department of Commerce Census report shows that US’ deficit in trade in goods with EU in 2010 was – 79, 672.9 million USD; which has risen to – 151,363 million USD in 2017; and just in the first six months of 2018, to – 77,563.1 million USD. (6) However, a CNBC report of 9 June 2018 negates this claim by Donald Trump. It highlights, “The United States and the European Union clashed over trade tariffs at a summit of G7 leaders in Canada on Friday and Saturday, with U.S. President Donald Trump complaining his country has been unfairly treated in trade by the EU for decades. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the European Union and the United States have the largest bilateral trade and investment relationship in the world worth roughly 900 billion euros ($1.06 trillion) per year and growing. The trade created 6.9 million jobs in the U.S.——– More than 70 percent of all foreign direct investment into the United States comes from the European Union. This number has doubled over the last 15 years. U.S. companies earn more than twice as much exporting goods to the EU as they do exporting to China – 251.5 billion euros ($295.91 billion) compared to 115.4 billion euros ($135.78 billion) in 2017. U.S. companies earn some $106 billion more in corporate profits in the EU than EU companies do in the U.S. When these corporate profits are added to the US trade balance, Washington has no trade deficit with the EU”. (7) However, Donald Trump not only refused to endorse the declaration of that G7 summit, threatened to start the trade war through trade tariffs, but also insulted Justin Trudeau the Prime Minister of Canada who had hosted the summit, as reported by The New York Times, “President Trump upended two days of global economic diplomacy late Saturday, refusing to sign a joint statement with America’s allies, threatening to escalate his trade war on the country’s neighbors and deriding Canada’s prime minister as “very dishonest and weak”. (8)
As for the US’ mind boggling withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Agreement, its real reasons are linked more to the place of religion in US’ policy making and religious beliefs of Donald Trump and his Vice president Mike Pence, rather than politics. In that connection some of the more important pieces of credible published information which need to be highlighted are: (a) Paper published by Utica College Center of Public Affairs and Election Research US mentions, “Religion has played a major role in shaping political leadership, the presidency, and presidential elections throughout U.S. history. ——— Since the 1970’s, evangelical Protestants have positioned themselves as one of the most impactful religious voting blocs, ———Donald Trump was able to garner the
Vast majority of evangelical support in the 2016 elections” (9); (b) evangelicalism, evangelical Christianity, or evangelical Protestantism, is a worldwide crossdenominational movement within Protestant Christianity. Its largest concentration is in US, where it forms a quarter of nation’s population, and is politically important (10); (c) Donald Wagner, Professor of Religion and Middle Eastern Studies at North Park University in Chicago and executive director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, wrote his commentary titled ‘An Historical Account of Christian Zionism’. In that he mentions, “Christian Zionism is a movement within Protestant fundamentalism that sees the modern state of Israel as the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and thus deserving of political, financial and religious support. Christian Zionists work closely with the Israeli government, religious and secular Jewish Zionist organizations. Both the secular and religious media place Christian Zionism in the Protestant evangelical movement, which claims upward of 100-125 million members in the US. However, one would more accurately categorize it as part of the fundamentalist wing of Protestant Christianity” (11); (d) in the introductory note to the book titled ‘The Faith of Donald J. Trump A Spiritual Biography’ by David Brody, Scott Lamb highlights the rarely discussed, but deeply important, religious beliefs and worldview of Donald J. Trump and his advisors. It mentions that Donald J. Trump was raised as a Presbyterian (i.e. belonging to Protestant Church) and has praised both Christianity and the primacy of the Bible. In the Oval Office, he has surrounded himself with close advisors who share his deep faith (12); (e) Paul Rogers, Professor in the Department of Peace Studies at Bradford University, UK has published an article titled‘Trump, Pence, Jerusalem: the Christian Zionism connection’. In that article he mentions “Although Pence’s family background is Irish-American Roman Catholic, he embraced a markedly evangelical perspective at college and has maintained that faith orientation ever since. It includes a particularly strong Christian Zionist perspective”. Besides that, the article highlights, that Mr. Pence is the first sitting Vice President of US who delivered a key note address to the annual meeting of Christians United for Israel, which is one of the two most powerful groups of Christian Zionists which are linked to the pro-Israel lobby (13); and (f) An article of Tara Isabella Burton, who holds a doctorate in Theology from the University of Oxford, has been published by Vox – an American news and opinion website. In that article she mentions, “Many evangelical speakers and media outlets compare Trump to Cyrus, a historical Persian king who, in the sixth century BCE, conquered Babylon and ended the Babylonian captivity, a period during which Israelites had been forcibly resettled in exile. This allowed Jews to return to the area now known as Israel and build a temple in Jerusalem. Cyrus is referenced most prominently in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, in which he appears as a figure of deliverance” (14).
These pieces of credible information, five of which were published in US and one in UK, clearly bring to fore the reality that the US policies made about Israel or Israel’s adversaries, by President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and their policy making colleagues, are strongly driven by the Christian Zionism religious faith. It is a well-known fact that Zionist believe in expanding the current state of Israel to create a ‘Greater Israel’ as a dominant power in the region; and as for now Iran is the only challenger to that Zionists plan. So, US doesn’t miss any chance of at least depleting Iran’s power potential. It was for this reason that despite the fact that while US’ State Department have been confirming that Iran was fully abiding by the conditions of Iran Nuclear Agreement, Donald Trump not only unilaterally withdrew US from the Agreement but also announced sanctions on Iran starting with the automobile and civil aviation sectors, and energy and finance to follow; besides that Donald Trump also in a way ‘ordered’ all firms of any country to wind down their business dealings with Iran between three and six months. Additionally, US’ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in his speech on 21 May 2018 announced additional sanctions including 12 Demands from Iran if Iran wanted to avoid being economically ‘crushed’ by US. Of course those demands are unacceptable to any sane person. (A detailed grasp of this issue has been published in my paper, titled ‘Latent Aspects of US’ Withdrawal from Iran Nuclear Agreement: Discerned Realities and Analysis’, in my website www.intrinsicoverview.com (15) and Eurasia Review (16).
As for US’ militarily aggressive actions in Syria, that is also a part of the same US’ design to erode the influence of Iran in Middle East and destabilise that region to facilitate the Zionist plan for expanding Israel to a ‘Greater Israel’.
US’ demands from its NATO allies to increase their financial contribution for NATO to meet the agreed formula of 2 % of each member country’s GDP. The 2017 NATO record shows that only about 10 out of 28 members including USA were meeting that target. Donald Trump is pressing the NATO members to meet that target. However, the chances of that demand being met are lesser; there are many reasons: (a) the severe military threat which these countries once faced from former Soviet Union’s WARSAW does not exist anymore; (b) there are serious internal problems within NATO as explained in the article title ‘The Threat within NATO’ (17).
Trumps’ anti-Immigration policies and ‘Islamophobia’ are well-known. Reports about his extremely inhuman action of separating children from families in that context are also well-known. That is most likely because of his ingrained racism and religious extremism – which certainly puts a blot on the US’ civilization where such people are elected as the president of the country.
Trump’s behavioural problem amounting to slandering, or even at times insulting, US’ allies has also appeared in many published reports – the case where Trump in his tweet derided Canadian Prime Minister as “very dishonest and weak” has already been covered earlier in this paper, similarly Trump’s refusal to shake hands with German Chancellor Angela Markel, as reported by Independent, “In footage of the photo opportunity, as photographers call for the two to shake hands, Ms Merkel can be heard saying: “Do you want to have a handshake?” Mr Trump briefly turns towards her, but continues sitting with his legs apart and hands together. She then turns back to face the cameras, smiling thinly” (18).
Divisive Repercussion in the Western Bloc
There is no doubt that the ‘internal factors’ causing the ‘Fracturing of the Trans Atlantic Community’, as empesised by Andrew Alexander Michta’s in his thesis (i.e. the emergence of rather fiercely competing group identities in the Western countries along the societal fault lines of the notions of nationalities, race, religion, and culture, etc. at internal and international levels, and the issue of Immigration), have slowly started causing the disintegration of the Western Bloc.
The evidence of this fact is provided by the oft-published news reports of the Far Right, Populist, and Neo-Nazis etc emerging not only in group identities but also in political parties which are in the process of gradually taking dominating positions in the body politic of their respective countries – the report by BBC dated 5 June 2018 is an example. That report mentions, “Across Europe, nationalist and far-right parties have made significant electoral gains. Some have taken office, others have become the main opposition voice, and even those yet to gain a political foothold have forced centrist leaders to adapt. In part, this can be seen as a backlash against the political establishment in the wake of the financial and migrant crises, but the wave of discontent also taps into long-standing fears about globalisation and a dilution of national identity. Although the parties involved span a broad political spectrum, there are some common themes, such as hostility to immigration, anti-Islamic rhetoric and Euroscepticism. So where does this leave Europe’s political landscape?” (19).
And not only that, the interview of the former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis even carries a warning, the extract of which was published in Euro News: “A nationalist and quasi-fascist force is rising up in Europe, former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has warned. Varoufakis, in an exclusive interview with Euronews’ new Raw Politics programme, said the continent was heading for a return to 1930s fascism. “We are going to unleash demonic political forces that will recreate a post-modern 1930s, with a nationalist, quasi-fascist international rising up both in the United States and Europe,” Varoufakis told Tesa Arcilla. “That is exactly what has been happening.” Varoufakis was then asked if Europe had already reached this stage. “Absolutely,” he responded” (20).
However, as explained by Javier Solana, the ‘external factor’ basically related to US President Donald Trump’s policies (of ‘America First’ and ‘Make America Great Again’ applied unilaterally and rather arrogantly even on its close allies) is factually accelerating the process of disintegration of the Western Bloc or causing the ‘Western Crack-up’ as mentioned by Javier Solana. While such US’ policies of Donald Trump are alienating a number of the countries of the Western Bloc, a brief mention of its most powerful EU allies – UK, Germany and France – and its next door neighbour Canada is worth.
As for UK, a report published by CNBC (US) of 12 July 2018 highlights that US and UK prided themselves on sharing a cultural, political and commercial bond that has long been called “the special relationship” (term coined by then-Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1946); however Trump’s position on trade, and other issues, has rattled his relationship with Downing Street. And the huge anti-Trump policies’ reaction even in UK public was also published in the same report: “Trump has since ruffled the feathers of both British politicians and the general public with a range of controversial comments on women, immigrants, Mexicans and Muslims. Indeed, his controversial remarks and policies have made it awkward for the U.K. to even host the former businessman this week. In fact, such was the opposition to Trump’s upcoming three-day visit, from Thursday evening until Sunday, that an initial invitation to the U.K. for a state visit — where the head of state Queen Elizabeth II would host the president in a visit full of pomp and pageantry — was downgraded to a “working visit” amid concerns over likely widespread protests. As many as 1.8 million Britons signed a petition in 2017 protesting against the then-planned state visit. Despite the downgrade, U.K.-wide demonstrations against Trump are still planned, with an expected 50,000 people likely to gather in London on Friday for a “Stop Trump” protest. The itinerary for the three-day visit appears to be designed to keep Trump as far away as possible from the capital to avoid any embarrassment by the protests” (21).
Besides that, a BBC report of 25 August 2018 also highlights certain important aspects in this regard from UK Prime Minister Theresa May. It mentions that before the scheduled meeting with Donald Trump, “Theresa May has told US Republicans the UK and America cannot return to “failed” military interventions “to remake the world in our own image”. That pronouncement was extremely important seen in the context of US’ continuing militarism in the countries like Syria. The report also highlights, regarding Donald Trump’s authorisation of torture including waterboarding in intelligence operations, that “Mrs. May has been urged to reject the comments about torture when she meets President Trump, and she has suggested that British intelligence sharing could be withdrawn from some operations with the US if it reintroduced torture” (22).
Germany-US relations are similarly deteriorating, and public opinion about Trump and US too are getting lower in Germany. Much credible information has been published. Brief extracts from some of the publications are worth.
A South Korea based online magazine International Policy Digest has published on 5 May 2018 an article relating to US-German conflicting relations. Its author is Trivun Sharma, who is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Political Science and International Studies, University of Warsaw, Poland. His working thesis is entitled, ‘Changing Dynamics of European Geopolitics: A Case of Russia and Germany’. That focus of his PhD research, renders his observations / inferences in his article due attention (23). Some of the extracts from his article are: (a) “U.S.-German relationship has been strained for quite some time. The primary issue concerns the nature in which the two countries perceive their national interest and foreign policy. The German Chancellor has been critical of President Trump’s statement over NATO and the demand for each country to meet the 2 percent budget requirement for shared NATO expenses, the intervention in Syria and, moreover, the imposition of protectionist U.S. trade policies. On the other hand, Berlin faces criticism over the refugee policy, limited military support in Syria and Iraq, trade surplus and a complex economic relationship with Russia over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline” (Note about the significance of Nord Stream 2 Gas Pipeline see reference (24); (b) “Germany’s current account surplus and President Trump’s protectionist trade policies have brought the two countries to a crossroads of a brewing trade war. Trump’s determination on eliminating America’s trade deficits threatens the business interest of major German companies, primarily automobile”; (c) “On security, German-U.S. interest differ as much as their economic priorities. For instance, the case of Syria. Berlin’s strategy rests on its pacifist foreign policy of avoiding direct military involvement and finding a peaceful solution to the conflict. Moreover, the objective for Berlin is to achieve stability in Syria in order to contain terrorism in Europe and facilitate the return of refugees, both of which have become a cause of political concern, given the rising popularity of the Alternative for Germany (AFD) party among the electorate. This is diametrically opposite in the United States. President Trump’s popularity and foreign policy towards Syria stems from the effective use of military force, not just to defeat the Islamic State but also as a show of strength against Russia over its increasing support for the Assad regime”; and (d) “Iran is also an issue. —————– For Berlin, interest in Iran rests on two factors; economic and energy policy. Germany’s primary interests in Iran are, first, to promote stability in the Persian Gulf region which continues to be vitally important for global oil supplies; and, second, to resolve the conflicts in the Middle East, in order to prevent further refugee movements toward Europe”.
DW has also published a report on 11 June 2018, titled ‘US- German conflicts – what you need to know’. It highlights six areas of US-Germany policy conflicts – very briefly : (a) Trump has pulled US out of the Iran Nuclear Agreement deal, but “Germany has vowed to keep the deal alive with the rest of the signatories”; (b) “Trump accuses the EU and Germany in particular of maintaining unfair economic policies toward the US,—————. On June 1, he imposed trade tariffs on imports of European steel and aluminium. In the past Trump has specifically singled out German cars as a potential target of other, further punitive action. More broadly, Trump’s economic protectionism has led to the suspension of negotiations over the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)”; (c) “Trump has accused Germany, most prominently among NATO members, of under-spending on defense——————. Berlin argues that the relatively large sums it spends on developmental aid (€23.3 billion in 2016) help prevent conflict around the world and should be taken into account as a contribution to international security”; (d) About environment protection, Germany is one of the world’s leading advocates of the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change, though Germany is finding it difficult to meet the target set in the Agreement—————-Trump has announced that the US will withdraw from that agreement in November 2020, the earliest possible opportunity for him to do so; (e) “Nowhere is the contrast between Germany under Angela Merkel and the US under Trump starker than on the issue of migrants and refugees. Whereas the populist president campaigned on a promise to build a wall between the US and Mexico to keep out illegal aliens, the centrist chancellor adopted a welcoming policy to the refugee “crisis” of 2015-16”; and (f) “Trump has been heavily critical of Berlin’s plans for a second natural-gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea connecting Russia with Germany, saying that it would increase German and European dependence upon the Kremlin. —————– Germany has accused Washington of being motivated by a desire to export American liquefied natural gas” (25).
In a latter report on 28 February 2018, DW has also reported that “Donald Trump remains very unpopular in Germany, while people in the US are generally positive about Angela Merkel, a new study finds..——— Donald Trump’s approval rating at home may not be much to boast about, but in Germany it’s abysmal. A mere 11 percent of Germans asked expressed “confidence in the US president,” confirming the results of other public opinion studies. ————64 percent of American Democrats say they have confidence in Merkel to do the right thing regarding world affairs. Despite the fact that the chancellor has never concealed her skepticism, if not aversion concerning Trump, even 50 percent of Republicans approved of Merkel. Interestingly, Merkel’s popularity in the US has been steadily growing, perhaps reflecting her increasing presence as a veteran leader on the world stage” (26).
French President Emanuel Macron has often been mentioned as the only prominent leader of EU countries for his sort of personal friendship (often termed as bromance) with US President Donald Trump. There is also no doubt that in their country’s internal policies Macron and Trump generally appear to have many commonalities. In reality, however, both have marked differences in many of their policies relating to the international affairs.
An article published by New Statesman (UK) on 26 April 2018 clarifies that reality. It has been written by Pauline Bock who is French and writes about France, the Macron presidency, Brexit and EU citizens in the UK. She has mentioned the internal issues of their respective countries where Macron and Trump reflect similarity. However, she has also highlighted, “The French president admitted in front of the US Congress that Trump would probably scrap the Iran deal anyway, a decision he also called “insane”. ———On most international policies, their stances couldn’t be any more different. Macron worked hard to convince Trump not to leave both the Iran deal and the Paris accord on climate change. He has voiced his disagreement when Trump declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel. He generally admits that they see the world very differently. Trump “is rejecting multilateralism, free trade, and climate change”, Macron noted in his address” (27).
Yet another article in this regard written by Uri Friedman, published by The Atlantic (an American magazine) on 24 April 2018, carries a much more important point to note – its extract (underlining added for highlighting the emphasis): “Emmanuel Macron had something surprising to say about the United States last week, given that the president of the United States would soon be hosting his French counterpart for an elaborate state visit. Hard-edged “national selfishness”—of the kind that plunged the world into war nearly eight decades ago, long before the 40-year-old leader was born—is resurgent and endangering Europe’s “model” of liberal, pluralist democracy and international cooperation, Macron said in a speech before the European Parliament. And the threat to Europe is coming not just from without (“authoritarian powers”) and within (“illiberal” politics in certain European countries), but from its centuries-old ally across the Atlantic. “We share so much with” America, Macron noted, but it “is rejecting multilateralism, free trade, and climate change.” Macron wasn’t just voicing disagreement with Trump’s policies of pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement and potentially imposing tariffs on European steel and aluminum. He was warning of a fundamental rupture in the Western alliance.” (28).
As for Canada it may suffice to mention that, as published in The Guardian (UK) on 29 June 2018, “Canada has announced billions of dollars in retaliatory tariffs against the US in a tit-for-tat response to the Trump administration’s duties on Canadian steel and aluminum”. Besides that Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland said, “We will not escalate and we will not back down”. However, “Freeland also said they are prepared if Donald Trump, the US president, escalates the trade war” (29).
The foregoing appraisal of the ground realities of the fast evolving socio-political changes in the European countries internally and internationally, as also in the US-EU relations, makes it abundantly clear that the about seven decades old politico-military bonding of the Western Bloc, symbolised mostly by NATO, is breaking down. The recent emergence of the rather fiercely competing group identities in the Western countries along the societal fault lines of the notions of nationalities, race, religion, and culture, etc, initiated the dissolution of that bonding. Besides that the threat from USSR’s WARSAW has gone since long, and the recently changing ‘geopolitical stance’ of Russia towards Europe, especially towards the actual ‘powerhouse’ of the European part of NATO – Germany, France and UK – is in a way causing a split in the eastern and western Europe. To this complex process of dissolution of the bonding has now been added the ‘Trump factor’, which has factually accelerated this process. This Trump Factor includes Donald Trump’s strong-headed ‘going alone’ ‘America first’ policies in which he stubbornly took unilateral actions in many international affairs against the urgings of EU allies, his oft-indulging in deriding and slandering even close EU allies on debatable unfair trade practices or lesser financial contribution for NATO, as also his threats of trade war through trade tariffs and sanctions to be levied by his government against any company / firm doing business with Iran, etc.
The only factor which may be saving this Trans Atlantic Western Bloc from a quick disintegration is the trillions of dollars worth EU-US mutual trade and foreign direct investment, which of course is the financial lifeline for the large number of companies and huge number of jobs in the countries of this Western Bloc. However, even that sort of compulsion may not sustain for long, because the continuation of the Trump Factor has already started compelling some EU governments to look for alternatives – examples (all events of about mid this year): (a) the reported meeting of France’s Macron and Russia’s Putin, and also Macron’s reported address in St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia where he described Russia as “an inalienable part of Europe” and called for dialogue and trust, saying: “Let us get around the table to talk about things. If we miss this moment then we really lose it forever”; (b) the reported possibility of a UK-China free trade agreement; and (c) despite opposition by Donald Trump and certain East European countries, Germany has started construction of its part of Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in Lubmin on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast on 3 may 2018. When this project is completed Germany will receive 55bn cubic metres (bcm) a year of Russian gas via the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
In all probability, therefore, in the shorter time-frame – may be 2 to 3 years, the Power Bloc of the Western Powers is going to finally disintegrate and a ‘Eurasian Geopolitical Group’, if not exactly a ‘Eurasian Power Bloc’, is more likely to emerge keeping in view the currently discernible ‘geopolitical/geo-economic reset’ activities of Germany, France and UK, leaning towards Russia (and may be subsequently towards China) for finding geopolitical/geo-economic alternatives.
References and Note
(24). Nord Stream 2 is a new export gas pipeline running from Russia to Europe across the Baltic Sea. The decision to build Nord Steam 2 is based on the successful experience in building and operating the Nord Stream gas pipeline. The new pipeline, similar to the one in operation, will establish a direct link between Gazprom and the European consumers. It will also ensure a highly reliable supply of Russian gas to Europe. This is particularly important now when Europe sees a decline in domestic gas production and an increasing demand for imported gas.
Tags: #Disintegration of the Western Power Bloc, #Fracturing of the Trans Atlantic Community, #Western Crack-up, #Emergence of Eurasia, #Eurasian Power Bloc, #US-EU Relations, #Geopolitical Reset