Recently, an ever increasing number of countries has started distancing itself from the United States. This process became particularly noticeable a couple of years ago when Donald Trump announced a new policy that he dubbed America First.
It’s noteworthy that in the aftermath of the Cold War the US assumed a dominant role on the geopolitical stage, claiming that it was the sole surviving superpower. Under Trump’s leadership, America would try to maintain its “primacy” over the rest of the world at all costs, but Washington’s policies under the slogan America First have recently started to provoke rejection by a great many of countries of the world.
More and more often across the EU analysts turn to discussing the question that bugs them the most: who is the principal problem for Brussels – Russia or the United States? Which of these powers is a lesser evil for Europe?
And now, the recent diplomatic steps undertaken by Angela Merkel provide us with an answer to this question. Recent contacts and personal meetings between the leaders of Germany and Russia on topical issues facing Europe and the Middle East, on the civil war in Libya, an exacerbation of tensions between the US and Iran, on the conflict in Ukraine and the completion of the Nord Stream 2, all clearly hint us about warming ties between Moscow and Berlin. We see assessments of how Europe’s perception of the United States changed in recent years, the growing criticism of Trump’s policies introduced against the current leader of the EU – Germany, as the latter suffered significant financial losses due to harsh anti-Russian sanctions imposed from across the Atlantic. And Germany is not the only one frustrated here, as a lot of European companies have effectively lost the Russian market with their former positions now being firmly occupied by Chinese manufacturers. However, Berlin continues to suffer from US sanctions, especially those recently introduced against the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline, as the US refuses to take into consideration the damage it has inflicted upon one of its closest European allies – Germany.
Angela Merkel, a sensible European leader, has already realized that the EU should rely on its own strengths to ensure security and safeguard its interests, while adjusting to ever changing realities. Therefore, it is not surprising that an ever increasing number of political parties that are competing with Merkel’s CDU have come to a common conclusion that it’s time to revise their policies towards Moscow and do away with Washington’s sanctions.
Pretty much the same can be said of the French leader Emmanuel Macron who is trying to escape a dangerous trap of getting locked in confrontation with Russia, that is why he keeps reminding his listeners that without sorting out differences with Russia, there’s no independent and secure future for Europe.
However, such steps won’t make those politicians handled by Washington happy, as those continue reiterating Cold War slogans and inciting further confrontation with Moscow. That is precisely why the question of Europe’s approach to Moscow was made the main topic of upcoming discussions at the Munich Security Conference, which opens its doors in the Bavarian capital on February 14. This summit is held annually in Germany since 1962, as it was known as the Conference on Military Affairs before 1993. It’s noteworthy that both in the report published on the eve of the conference and in various interviews given by the Chairman of this conference – Wolfgang Ischinger, we here the same exact notions about the collapse of the West that was more or less a cohesive geopolitical body. But it’s underlined that ever since Donald Trump took office, the United States and Europe are no longer pursuing the same goals. Ishinger points to the Middle Eastern region as an example, as the EU doesn’t have its own effective solutions for hotbeds of tension and wars that exist there. In Ischinger’s opinion, Europe and the US are moving away from each other because they have realized that the era of Western hegemony is gone, as they failed to impose their own vision of globalization on the rest of the world, and now every man is for himself.
Speaking about military cooperation between Europe and the US, one should not forget that media sources all across European have recently started to criticize the Pentagon that sends an ever increasing number of troops and arms across the Atlantic. Thus, in the European edition of Modern Diplomacy, we find dissatisfaction with the fact that American officers will be presiding over the largest military games in modern history – Defender Europe 2020, while European troops are expected to be contended with playing a purely supporting role. In particular, the publication states:
The European Union, and particularly Germany have yet to rise to the challenge posed by the United States’ retreat from global leadership. Berlin and the EU as a whole have not yet accepted the challenge associated with the “retreat” of the United States from global leadership.
Moreover, “wars and conflicts along the European periphery are increasingly being decided by other powers, with Europe playing no discernible role in their resolution.”
Now we start witnessing the Old World growing increasingly critical of NATO, but in response Washington decides it’s about time to try to put out a fire with gasoline staging the largest exercise of the North Atlantic Alliance in three decades. However, if the Russophobic hysteria is to be carried on, then the consequences of such a method to the madness may overshadow the Cold War with the deployment of hundreds of nuclear-capable missiles on both sides.
In recent decades, the US would typically throw its allies under the bus by demanding them to take up various military responsibilities. But in a multipolar world, such an approach may lead to unintended consequences like those allies failing to fulfill the stated goals or them getting tired of being manipulated and leaving the “allied camp” altogether.
This notion becomes particularly viable when we take a closer look at Manila sending a notice to the United States about the termination of the bilateral Visiting Forces Agreement earlier this week, which has been in effect since 1998. The official spokesperson of the President of the Philippines, Salvador Panelo, noted that the agreement will cease to be valid after 180 days since the announcement. It should be recalled that Rodrigo Duterte would demonstrate his intention to move away from Washington and get closer to the “non-traditional allies” like Russia and China time and again.
On the eve of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security Between the United States and Japan the Japanese public urges its government to take a step away from the United States. The vast majority of Japanese media sources voice critical assessments of the above mentioned security treaty and its incompatibility with the current military and political realities of the world, as it puts Japan in a position when in can be drawn unwillingly in a number of military conflicts. Some of those sources try to point out the mistake of Shinzo Abe’s government, which is trying to turn a blind eye to the discontent of the people, while others speak of the urge to get away with this burden that endangers Japan.
Even the leading Japanese liberal newspaper Asahi Shimbun now argues that when President Trump came to power in the United States, he jeopardized the security cooperation between the US and Japan by announcing the short-sighted America First policy. Currently, the real question is how Japan may carry on working with America, which has transformed from what was described as a global policeman into a demolition machine that has gone haywire.
Vladimir Odintsov, expert politologist, exclusively for the online magazine ‘New Eastern Outlook’.