Alwaght- As deepening chill continues to upset the American-European relations, President Emmanuel Macron of France recently in an interview with The Economist newspaper emphasized on the need for NATO and Europe to engage in dialogue with Russia, warning that Europe needs to wake up and build itself as an autonomous geopolitical power as it teeters on the edge. Over the past three years, the French leader described NATO as “brain-dead” and talked about the necessity of European defense strategy under a purely European military force and the end of age of European-American alliance.
His remarks received welcome from some European countries like Germany and Turkey. After Europe was left in the dark about the American withdrawal from Afghanistan and France was snubbed by Biden in AUKUS submarine pact that brings together the US, Britain, and Australia in a new alliance, the death knell of the European-American alliance began ringing.
But this separation of ways raises a question: What are Europe’s challenges and capacities as it steps in a path of independence of policy from the US?
Here are the capacities:
The US unilateralism: The first and perhaps most important opportunity for European policy independence from the US can be seen in relation to Washington’s unilateralism in global decision-making and policy-making. The Americans have acted independently in various crises over the past two decades, ignoring Europe’s demands and fraying ties with it. The first signs of division appeared in the US invasion of Iraq during which France and Germany, contrary to Britain, refused to join in. Under President Barack Obama the White House embraced a doctrine of collectivism in the foreign policy, smoothening the troubled ties with Europe.
After Donald Trump came to power in 2017, the rift between Europe and the US became more apparent than ever. Under Trump, NATO member states began to notice that Washington could no longer be considered a shield provider for Europe as it was during the Cold War, so Europeans had to think of new solutions for their future. It was at this time that the leaders of France and Germany in 2019 spoke of the need to establish a “European Security Council”. In the new situation, Biden’s decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, which did not take into account the positions of European countries, and ultimately the conclusion of the AUKUS agreement was a finishing blow to the Transatlantic alliance. So, this American policy unilateralism can provide an important motivation for Europe to think independence.
European Union’s successful experience
European countries, despite all the ups and downs and their allegiance to the US in the years after World War II, have shown that they have the ability to manage a successful alliance. A clear symbol of this is the European Union in which the European countries have extensive cooperation with each other, both politically and economically, and their regional union is pointed to as the largest and most successful union in the history. This success story can inspire positive European movement towards policy independence from the US.
Special European potentials
In addition to the mentioned capacities, European countries have appropriate historical potentials for independence from the US. Looking at the political history of Europe in the past centuries, it is clear that today’s US is the product of immigration of Europeans, and even in the history of this country, the States have been colonies of Britain. In fact, Europe’s unique historical and civilization background is an important potential that can serve as a stimulus to Europe’s quest for independence from the US. In other words, the civilization and historical background of Europe is a significant potential that can drive policy independence efforts from Europe.
Downscale in European-American trade
Another European capacity is the EU strategy in the trade with the US. In fact, the European Union has taken serious steps over the past year to reduce its economic dependence on US. China is now Europe’s largest economic partner and has the biggest trade deals with the European bloc. In 2020, the EU imports from the US dropped 11.4 percent and its exports to it dropped 10 percent. Perhaps this means that the bloc has already taken the steps to reduce dependence on Washington.
What are Europe’s obstacles towards independence from the US?
The first obstacle ahead of the European policy autonomy from Washington is the division among the European countries. Despite the predominant desire of European citizens for independence from the US, European politicians do not share the same views on how to deal with Washington. For example, even between France and Germany, the main political and economic powers of the European Union, there is little consensus on independence from the US. Even these countries are not united on how to deal with various international crises such as Yemen, Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan. In general, this situation has led European countries to take cautious steps on the issue of independence from the US.
No clear roadmap for military and economic independence
In the past few years, France and Germany emphasized the need for Europe to end its military, security, and economic dependence on the US, however they have not prepared a clear roadmap to move in this path. Even many political observers believe that the issue of creating a European army and joint European military forces is more like a dream that a reality as it lacks the necessary support in terms of quantity and quality. Additionally, the European economy lacks a culture of risk-taking, which has left European countries economically unprepared to confront possible US outrage and pressure. Even many economic observers and technology experts hold that Europeans believe they are dependent on Washington for modern technology.
Europe’s psychological weakness for independence
There is a psychological aspect for this issue. Actually, the European transition to independence requires some psychological readiness. This is while all factors prove that Europe is never psychologically prepared for full movement to independence.
Lasting Russian threat and European phobia
A fear of Russian influence and military might in Eastern Europe is another repulsion forcing Europe away from its pro-independence aspirations. For decades reliant on the US military forces on their soil, the Europeans are afraid that in case of breakup of NATO or reduction of the US security commitments to them, they are far from ready to face off Russia. Therefore, existence of the Russian threat remains a strong repulsive force keeping Europe away from autonomous policy.
The independence outlook
Looking at the above-mentioned capacities and restrictions, the independence from the US should be seen a difficult and complicated job. Still, the Transatlantic alliance in the past sense is not possible anymore. Actually, the European separation of ways from the US is inevitable since Europe is increasingly coming to the notion that it has no other way than relying on its own potentials and adopting a policy independent from Washington. The new White House policies under President Joe Biden are even accelerating the European independence project.