The USA’s return to benevolent leadership is just an illusion. Europe must therefore defend its economic and social model.
All is no longer quiet on the Western front: the Atlantic Alliance has become an Atlantic Misalliance. This was made obvious at the Munich conference on security from 15th to 17th February. Founded in 1963 as a temple dedicated to NATO, it has become NATO’s mausoleum, consecrating the disintegration of the world order and the break-up of the transatlantic link.
As a symbol of the breach between the two sides of the Atlantic, there was a head-on clash between Angela Merkel and Mike Pence. Although, since 1949, Germany has been the most faithful ally of the USA, which sponsored its recovery and then its reunification, the Chancellor did not just limit herself to making a plea for multilateralism. She berated the incoherence of Donald Trump’s foreign policy: a trade war that was targeting the allies as well as China; withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership leaving the field free for Beijing in Asia; withdrawal from the Vienna agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, and the withdrawal of American troops from Syria and Afghanistan, leaving the Middle East at the mercy of Russia and Iran. When Pence came out of the disastrous summit in Poland that confirmed the isolation of the USA with regard to the Middle East, he lectured his allies on Iran and on the level of their expenditure on their military forces, with rhetoric worthy of the Warsaw Pact. He was rewarded by a stony silence.
To bank on the USA’s returning to a benevolent leadership of the free world is pure fantasy. The America of 1945 is dead and gone. The consequences for the security of Europe are immense, for Europe finds itself in a strategic vacuum at a time when there are renewed threats to its security: from Chinese state-capitalism that uses the financial strike force of its state-owned companies to take control of vital assets throughout the continent; from Russia, which is holding Europe in a vice-like grip – by rebuilding a formidable strategic arsenal and supporting and manipulating populist groups; from Turkey and Iran whose aim is to submit Europe to Islamic political law.
Europe has realized that it is ill-equipped to deal with these threats. It has no longer been able to rely on territorial stability ever since Russia’s incursions into Crimea and Donbass violated the 1975 Helsinki Accords which recognized the inviolability of frontiers. It has not been able to count on the established nuclear situation ever since Russia deployed dual capability SSC-8 cruise missiles – which caused the USA to withdraw from the INF Treaty, the prelude to its scheduled withdrawal from the New Start agreements in 2021. Neither can it depend on support from the USA, which has opened the door to the démocratures [a démocrature is a combination of democracy and dictatorship] by emphasizing that US commitments to their allies are merely virtual.
Therefore, Europe has no other choice than to defend its values and its economic and social model by providing itself with the means to ensure its own security. In short, it must consider itself to be – and gradually become – a political power and a major player.
The European army is just a pipe dream in the absence of any common vision, any agreement on vital interests, or any common operating culture. But this is no way prevents it from building up a European security strategy based on concrete principles: creating military capacity, common operations, training, defense programs and industry, research – particularly into artificial intelligence – and finance by the European fund (with13 billion euros at its disposal). It would cover three areas. Firstly, an autonomous strategy in the fight against terrorism, the protection of vital infrastructures and border control – beginning with surveillance of the Mediterranean, space and cyber-warfare. Secondly, the re-positioning of the Atlantic Alliance by strengthening the way in which it stands as a deterrent against Russia, without falling into the trap of deploying new nuclear missiles in Europe that would sharpen divisions and provoke public protest, as was the case during the Euro-missile crisis. Thirdly, the creation of an alliance between democracies that would work towards multilateralism in matters of disarmament, trade and the fight again global warming, and which would bring together Europe, India, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Australia and New Zealand.
(Column published in Le Figaro, 25th February 2019)