Thursday, January 30, 2020

Europeans Need to Grow Up

If you want to understand the world, you need to read widely ... and for an American, that means to actively seek out non-Anglosphere writers, perspectives, and opinions.

It makes things so much clearer.

One of the fun parts of the Trump administration is that it teased out already existing European - and especially German - antipathy towards the USA, especially in their political/media class, that we had not seen since Bush43 was in office. Yes, there are great friends of the USA in Germany ... but as I learned living amongst them, just below the surface with a plurality of them - they have "issues."

They hate us, but they are dependent on us. The two are in a way probably connected, but enough of that.

In a great article over at EstonianWorld by Sigmar Gabriel, a former German foreign minister, and Michael Hüther, the director of the German Economic Institute, you have a nice sample of the present mindset of the Boomer leadership of Germany;
The European Union, and particularly Germany, have yet to rise to the challenge posed by the United States’ retreat from global leadership. But, given the new competition from China, together with Russia’s renewed great-power aspirations, the Western countries must find a way to cooperate more closely.
Just because they keep saying that, does not mean it is true.

Retreat? No ... just tired of doing other people's job for them.

Perhaps we are investing less time in areas of the world where we simply don't see the juice worth the squeeze. If we were really retreating, then why would the authors write this later on in the article;
If Europe does not wake up to the realities of the new Sino-American rivalry, it could find itself in a position of geopolitical irrelevance. In fact, there are already signs of Europe’s declining global significance. Wars and conflicts along the European periphery are increasingly being decided by other powers, with Europe playing no discernible role in their resolution.
Bingo. Europe is not the world.

We are still engaged in the world, we have just moved our attentions towards areas of greater importance. I don't think the Continental Europeans have fully hoisted on board that a critical mass in the USA have realized that Europeans have grown rich and lazy under our umbrella only to provide sloth and distain in return ... so we will let them take more responsibility for their own business.

Along those lines, the authors are sniffing at action items they can do to help the collective Western effort on our little planet;
...five issues seem vital. The first is Germany’s relationship with the US, which is now under severe stress. The elephant in the room is Germany’s failure to increase its annual defence spending to 2% of GDP, as agreed at the 2014 NATO summit in Wales. For obvious historical reasons, Germany is hesitant to become Europe’s de facto military power. Were it to meet its spending commitment, it would be allocating €80 billion ($89 billion) per year to the Bundeswehr, which is €46 billion more than what France spends.
For well over a decade on this blog we have been asking Germany to grow up and join the family of nations as a full partner. Trust us, we fully believe that today's Germany has regained her position as a respected and valuable member - indeed a critical member - of Western Civilization. WWII is almost out of living memory. We're all friends now. Your neighbors and friends are not afraid of a democratic Germany pulling her weight. We actually want her to. Heck, the Balts would love to host at least a division of German infantry and armor ... again.

Step up.
The second big issue is US-EU relations. The immediate challenges facing America and Europe have changed over the past seven decades. Most recently, Russia has expanded its sphere of influence into Crimea, eastern Ukraine, and the Sea of Azov, and China has begun to assert economic and technological dominance in Eurasia.
The USA has no issues with the EU. The EU though, keeps trying to make drama. Let's trade and work together on those things that benefit us both. We are more than happy for the EU to take the lead contra-Russia. The bear is your neighbor after all. Again, we're cool with that. 

As for China, it is clear what she wants to do. Don't let yourself fall for her ham-fisted efforts. You have agency, national interests and free will. As demonstrated by your politicians ear-deep in Russian corruption in the energy sector, you do have some easily purchased power centers, but again - that is within your control if you so wish.

Step up.
Amid deteriorating economic security and social cohesion, populist and nationalist movements have exploited voters’ anxieties by promising to defend the homeland against cosmopolitan elites and the multilateral institutions that have underpinned politics and economics since World War II.

Notwithstanding populist rhetoric, economic globalisation has, in fact, created prosperity and reduced poverty and opened up new development opportunities around the world. But without the West’s support, this system cannot be sustained.

What we need now to open up new possibilities for the world order is a globalisation of civil society, and to remind people and communities that the state is still capable of acting effectively. That starts with investing more in education, research and infrastructure, while striking a balance between cross-border cooperation and respect for cultural idiosyncrasies.
No, what you need to do is listen less at Davos, and more to your own people.

The center-left and center-right have failed the people in the center, so they are looking elsewhere. Protect your borders. Don't import an underclass. Show pride in your national character and history. That is all the "populists" are doing, answering the call that your establishment thinks is too "icky" to address. You don't even need to go in full throttle, just meet them halfway. Do that, and the fringes on both sides will go back to being single-digit parties.
...the third issue: Russia. Here, the EU’s pursuit of a balanced policy has created friction within the transatlantic alliance, as exemplified by the tensions over Nord Stream 2, a joint Russian-German pipeline project. In the German government’s view, Nord Stream 2 is fundamentally an economic issue. After all, German, French and other European companies have invested heavily in the project; in any case, it would be a grave political mistake to intervene in the private European gas market.
Still strange how they see that. When you see "transatlantic" they mean USA. The USA cannot be more concerned about European security more than the Europeans are ... oh, wait ... sure we can. That is part of the problem.

The core issue is that we know that if the Europeans hand the Russians a sword - the Russians will use it against the Europeans. It is amazingly obvious ... but the German leadership - as we've blogged about here - have been bought by the Russians - and the German elite in politics and the media defend each other. Some people in power need to be willing to lose some friends.

The last part of the quote above is almost beyond parody - just look at who is running the NORD STREAM project ... it is soaked in politics and politicians - from former Chancellors to former GDR Stasi leadership.

Private my ass.

I think the authors know this all too well, but are either too scared or polite to say so. Once again, they contradict themselves;
...a better way to secure Europe’s energy supply would be to expand and further integrate Europe’s natural-gas infrastructure, while building more terminals for liquefied natural gas. That way, no country – be it a member state or close partner – could be held hostage as a result of its dependence on Russian energy.
Yes, but what is being done to do that?

Things get better in the article the further you go;
... the fourth issue is China, which has made clear that it seeks a revision of the international balance of power. For its part, the Trump administration rightly challenged China on trade. There can be no “fair trade” when a country that does not play by the same rules as everyone else organises two-fifths of the global economy.

China lavishes subsidies on its industries, limits access to its markets and routinely violates intellectual-property rights. Moreover, China’s model of authoritarian state capitalism poses a double challenge, because it represents both economic competition and an alternative political model. As such, the EU and America urgently need to devise clear, mutually agreed rules for dealing with China.
We cannot wait for the EU and America to create the perfect together. Both can move faster alone. Let the EU and the USA get a "good" on the books now individually, and then work towards a "perfect" together. China is already 2-moves ahead of both of us. We need to move now. In the interim, keep China out of your 5G.

This should have been a realization at the top - but this isn't an issue as much as a statement of reality;
The fifth major issue is Europe’s role in the wider world. If Europe does not wake up to the realities of the new Sino-American rivalry, it could find itself in a position of geopolitical irrelevance. In fact, there are already signs of Europe’s declining global significance.
Relative decline.

Europe has a static to shrinking population with stagnant economies, importing net drains on economic growth from Africa and the Middle East. East Asia on the other hand, while having demographic problems on their own, have growing economies and per-capita GDP not overburdened by welfare state underclasses.

They are larger populations climbing out of poverty - not importing it. They are just growing stronger in relative terms ... which builds mass in real terms.

The article ends, surprisingly, in Salamanderland;
For good reasons, the EU has long resided beneath the US security umbrella, with the union effectively remaining on the sidelines. But that geopolitical conception of Europe is an American artefact, based on the Marshall Plan. As NATO’s first secretary-general, Hastings Ismay, famously put it, the purpose of NATO was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.”

Much has changed since the 1950s. Today, we Europeans are only gradually beginning to understand that we must adapt to the geopolitical realities of the twenty-first century. The Atlantic era is giving way to the Pacific era. Europeans must harbour no illusions that all will turn out well on its own. Now is the time to muster the courage and the will to take responsibility for our strategic interests.
Yes. Good. Nice.

European NATO, starting with Germany, needs to invest its fair share. 

Europeans need to focus on the legitimate concerns of their citizens, not what the strap-hangers in Davos and Brussels feel would make them feel better. 

Europeans need to give their people security, not let their governing elites line their pockets with Russian and Chinese graft.

If Europe can stop from importing its own destruction, it will be fine. If its politicians will stop focusing on each other's virtue signaling, and instead focus on the standard of living and quality of life of its working citizens, they will be even better.

That would be pretty good advice for the USA as well.

No comments: