Ted Malloch: European Peoples Are Rising Up!
Do you remember Ambassador Kennan’s “Long Telegram”, written at the outset of the Cold War decades ago?
In it, Kennan underlined the differences between the Soviet and American systems and what the strategy should be to contain — and eventually defeat it.
The European Union is not the Soviet Union (although I half-joked about this on the BBC, See: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/donald-trump-eu-ambassador-ted-malloch-tame-european-union-like-brought-down-soviet-union-russia-a7549696.html); nor is Brussels a new Moscow, offering the world an ideological alternative to liberal free-market capitalism and democracy.
The Europeans are clearly occasional friends of the US, and will forever remain so, even post-Brexit when the UK-US Special Relationship bond is likely to intensify.
The source of tension today however is the halfway house the Europeans currently find themselves in; one they built, which is both protectionist and increasingly anti-American.
The EU is a regional integration mechanism, an intergovernmental organization, and a multilateral political forum, with an executive (the Council), a legislative (the European Parliament), a judiciary (the European Court of Justice), a civil service (the European Commission), a diplomatic service (the External Action Service) and a common monetary policy for some Eurozone members (but no common fiscal policy or finance).
The EU of today obviously is not greater than the sum of its parts.
These pillars of the “ever closer union” currently do not add up to a peer or equal for America – until and unless the ultimate step is taken; probably not even then.
Should the Europeans wish to federalize and unite under one flag (perhaps, speak Esperanto or eat one cuisine), which appears less and less likely post-Brexit, they are free to do so under the democratic rights they retain as free peoples in the international order, and America will neither encourage nor discourage this outcome.
However, Euro-federalists are not the only political force in Europe, they do not hold a monopoly on political legitimacy in Europe, and the challenge to their primacy will only get stronger as they are forced to accommodate factions who represent opposite views in a post-Brexit world.
Indeed, there are impulses potentially for other countries to leave the EU, especially if and when they see the UK thriving.
Until then, the EU post-Brexit is going have to get used to being treated as soon to be 27 separate countries, with separate nationhood and sovereignties.
To grant (implicit) recognition of their unity prematurely is to pick a side in a foreign political debate America shouldn’t have an opinion about – the side most at odds with the philosophy of the Trump administration, to boot.
EU President Juncker is not the Prime Minister of Europe; he heads a regional body that sometimes has legal force and is sometimes disobeyed anyway, much like the United Nations.
“First Vice President” Mogherini is certainly not the foreign minister of Europe’s 500 or so million “EU citizens” (a meaningless category outside Europe), nor are EU missions abroad “embassies” (the US downgraded the Washington office), nor the heads of those missions “Ambassadors”.
European fantasizing over China’s replacement of America as internationalist-in-chief was swiftly found to be wishful thinking.
Similar international organizations (ASEAN, CARICOM, the African Union, etc.) would never be treated as such an equal to the federal government of the United States, unless their member states subsumed themselves into a fully federated polity, not even then.
We need to treat the European Union for what it is—and with a dose of realism.
The hope of a Europe of nation-states, or a revamped EU post-Brexit with deeper democratic checks on its bureaucratic excesses remains salient.
The party line, even in the most Eurosceptic political organizations, is that Brussels can and must be reformed. Who knows how or when?
Eurosceptic parties left and right are finding that modern takes on welfare statism coupled with their opposition to globalization can deliver surprisingly high electoral returns.
The elements for an anti-federalist coalition – breaking the wall– are all in place and lack only the leadership to put the challenge to the current crop of Eurocrats.
As Kennan said of America in 1946, winning at home is the key to winning abroad – if Eurosceptics can keep the momentum in their favor, they will indeed triumph.
Where differences in political systems do exist, they are mainly the consequence of the Reagan/Thatcher revolutions. Europe never experienced such.
Recent political developments seem to be dragging Europe to the right, toward the “bipartisan consensus” of the Democrats and Republicans in Washington – a position not exclusive to President Trump.
Dissident federalists and Eurosceptic forces in Europe need someone to lead the caucus of rebels against Junckerian federalism, if Europe is to start emphasizing sovereignty, strong defenses, law and order, and strong borders.
It remains to be seen what the non-political staff of the European Commission would do faced with a less-than-federalist leadership in the Berlaymont. How could they unwind and deregulate?
The battle lines in Europe post-Brexit are drawn: 2019 will see whether Macron’s reformist and integrationist promises fall on deaf ears. It surely looks as if they will.
The future EU and the transatlantic relationship will be riding on the post-2019 May European Parliament and whatever new found, breaking coalition that emerges from it.
My own prognosis is that the national-populist sovereignist group, the new Alliance for Common Sense led by Italy’s formidable Matteo Salvini, will be the tipping point.
He is now called, the “Trump of Europe.”
Ted Malloch is the author of Common Sense Business