19.08.2018 Author: Grete Mautner

Washington Treats the EU as a Vassal State


It seems that Donald Trump has no other approach to Brussels except from the one that is reminiscent of the way vassal states were treated back in Medieval days. One could even get an impression that the sole purpose of European existence is to satisfy the untamable avarice of American arms manufacturers and special interests. Within the last couple months the sitting US president has considerably toughened his stance on trade tariffs that European businesses are now to be subjected to. At this point it’s perfectly clear that in the race for global domination, Washington will deem no trick too dirty to be employed against friend and foe alike, introducing one package of harsh economic measures against various groups of its trading partners after another. Although those are sold to the general public under a bunch of various pretexts, the goal behind all of them remains the same – to get an unfair advantage to ensure that no state can contest Washington’s unipolar vision.

The US is clearly in no mood to practice what it has been preaching for decades, as notions of globalization and fair trade have effectively been torpedoed by the Trump administration. It is true that it’s the first administration in the modern history that could no longer ignore the dire economic situation inside the US, but instead of being honest in describing the approach it will choose to address it, Trump erects trade barriers, increases import duties, declares a trade war against America’s leading trading partners – China, the EU, Canada, Mexico, while strengthening sanctions against Russia and Iran. For the sake of protectionism the WTO rules have been shoved aside along with a decades old struggle for the liberalization of the international market. As for the possible consequences of this approach – the sky is the limit.

Trump has been pretty vocal in demanding European states to increase their financial contributions to NATO, although there’s no clear rationale behind it, as there’s no immediate military threats that the EU can face in the foreseeable future, which has been confirmed by the recent revelation of NATO’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, who openly admitted that he don’t see any imminent threat against any NATO ally. It goes without saying that American rams manufacturers will be the only one to billions of dollars in profits from this shift, and the largest importers of American weapons, among which one can find Britain, Poland, Romania, Greece, will soon be joined by other EU states.

The Trump administration has been taking every step to deliberately humiliate Europe by first backing from the Paris Agreement on climate change and then withdrawing from the JCPOA, which has already triggered an unprecedented transatlantic crisis, as Donald Trump is now trying to challenge the European system of values, notes Le Figaro. As the chaos across the Middle East is defying the limits of a purely religious confrontation, we witness external players getting drawn in a clash of civilizations. We witness Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt enjoying the support of the United States opposed by Iran, that enjoys the support of Turkey and Russia. Should Europe stop importing Iranian oil, in is going to face tens of billions in financial losses, as it has been noted by the ambassador of Austria to Terhran, Stefan Schulz .

American trade wars will inflict extensive damage to the economies of European countries, in defiance of all the norms of the WTO. Should Washington introduce the trade restrictions it has been threatening Berlin, the overall export of European cars is going to take a severe blow, especially the German car industry.

Under the pretext of containing Russia, Washington is also willing to force the EU into buying the unreasonably expensive American gas. However, this plan is likely to be hampered by the reluctance of Brussels to foot the bill for the construction of eleven new LNG terminals in the light of Nord Stream 2, Turkish Stream and the Shah Deniz Stage 2 pipelines being already constructed. So it’s only logical that the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker announced last June that Washington’s interests should not take precedence over Europe’s energy security.

As it’s been explained by the senior research fellow of The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, Dr. Thierry Bros, there is going to be no more than four gas importing facilities constructed in the EU, as the existing 24 facilities across Europe are only employing a quarter of their total capacity. On top of Russia’s being the cheapest on the market, its supply via gas pipelines sidesteps the process of liquefaction, transportation aboard a tanker and the consequent return to its original state. The CEO of the leading Austria’s gas importer OMV, Rainer Seel publicly stated that Russian gas us twice as cheap as its American liquefied alternative.

The blow that American trade wars are going to inflict to the European gas industry is by no means accidental. New sanctions are aimed at achieving long-term US political goals and Washington couldn’t care any less about the collateral damage. What we are witnessing is the embodiment of the political slogan “America first” or an example of how new markets are getting created through unscrupulous geopolitical steps.

Trade wars have not been invented yesterday. From the perspective of geopolitics, the ultimate goal of the so-called sanctions regime is to force a runaway state into submission and punish it for its rebellious behavior. With the use of sanctions, hegemonies have been imposing their own rules. However, economic experts are still arguing the effectiveness of such an approach, as it inflicts as much damage on the state that introduces sanctions as on the one subjected to those, if any. But Washington has clearly taken trade wars too far recently for anybody to try to justify this stance, as it damages Washington’s image in the world along with weakening the dollar system, notes The Washington Post. According to an analysis conducted by the law firm Gibson Dunn, the Trump administration has blacklisted nearly 1,000 people and entities last year.

It’s clear that Europeans are in no mood of being used as a tool in Washington’s quest for global dominance. The European Commission has repeatedly urged Washington to coordinate tariffs and sanctions. If these urges continue to be ignored, there’s a real threat of transatlantic rift emerging on the international stage, which may soon lead to the collapse of the transatlantic coalition. Earlier this month the European Union introduced a bill, which empowers Brussels to protect European businesses from American sanctions. And this was but a first step.

France called on the EU to “act as a united front,” reinforcing the 1996 European regulation on the blocking of US extraterritorial laws. One cannot agree more with the French minister of the economy and finance Bruno Le Maire, that has recently stated that Washington is no position to dictate economic rules to the rest of the world.

Grete Mautner is an independent researcher and journalist from Germany, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.