In many ways, Europe provides a better Western alternative and stronger living narrative than the U.S., due to several positive factors. Some of these factors are:
- Respect for non-discriminatory rule of law
- Respect for much-needed human rights
- Respect for privacy
- Abhorrence towards gun violence
- Deep-rooted cultural sophistication and refinement
- Respect for human values
- Respect for law and order
- Ease of labour and capital mobility across the European Union
- Respect for other religions, notwithstanding the strong dominance and influence of Christianity
There are many other positives, too many to list here. However, there are several detracting factors as well, not the least of which are whole countries such as Poland and Hungary, which are deviating from time-tested EU value systems and integrity.
The inability of Europe to handle the influx of immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa is clearly a serious cause of concern. There is no unified EU response to the problem at the borders. Hungary does not wish to take in any immigrants. Germany is on a pause, after taking in the most number of immigrants. There are two things that the EU needs to develop – an integrated, unified approach to the immigrants problem, and a systematic approach towards integrating the immigrants into the EU way of life, while protecting religious matters.
This blog post is not about the immigration problem faced by the EU. This is more about how Europe has allowed itself to be played as a pawn between the U.S. and Russia, and how the U.K. is also playing on its weaknesses.
Europe has got to be friends with Russia always, as it is in the same continent and shares thousands of miles of border, both on land and sea. There is no way a NATO Alliance can wage a war on Russia without accomplishing a total and complete annihilation of all of Europe. I do not understand how the EU politicians can miss this geographical proximity and necessity of living together peacefully at all times.
An aggressive flexing of muscles by the U.S. should not be the sole reason for the EU to antagonize Russia. The U.K. is a stooge of the U.S., and will always be subservient to U.S. interests. France is mostly independent-minded, but it chooses to join the U.S. in attacks in the Middle East to test its gleaming new weaponry.
Only Germany stands guard as the protector of EU values and integrity (smaller nations like The Netherlands and Belgium also represent these values). Greece and Italy are on the fringes. The erstwhile Eastern European nations are still not that economically strong.
It is strange that the country which originated Nazism is now playing the role of the most important country in all of Europe, with an economy even bigger than that of the U.K. or France. My views on Germany changed substantially during the regime of Dr Angela Merkel as the German Chancellor. She is the best that could have happened, not only to Germany, but also to Europe as a whole. After she leaves government, we do not know where Germany will trend towards – more right wing, I guess. That may not be a good outcome for Europe.
The downward spiral of Europe has already started over the past couple of years, accentuated by constant friction with both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, who are sandwiching and sacrificing Europe’s strategic interests with their own brand of extremism. Compounded by the omnipresent immigration challenges, and many other almost insurmountable problems like the stupid Brexit, Europe is teetering towards strategic instability. In another decade or so, Europe will mainly be of interest only to foreign tourists, at this rate. Unemployment is mounting, racial segregation is a problem in countries like France, some immigrants are creating law and order problems, terrorism is nipping Europe at the fringes, Hungary is closing its borders, and Poland is denouncing its judiciary.
The EU was always a wonderful idea which is probably the only successful union of countries in the world, with so many common approaches. It would be a pity if it unravels due to lack of a common approach driven by a committed leadership, as exemplified by Dr Merkel, who successfully stood up to both Trump and Putin.
I still believe there is a very good chance to sustain the EU for the long term. It would necessitate dropping of the “soft-hearted” approach towards larger super powers, dominated by insecurity and fear. It would require the EU to spend more than 2% of its collective GDP on its own defence and security, which means they have to spend more than USD 400B every year, which the EU countries have been loath to spend. But there is no choice. NATO Alliance may not even exist in the next decade or so.
If bold actions are not taken for collective defence and security, and for warning member states who do not subscribe to EU values with ejection from the EU, then Europe’s downward spiral cannot be arrested. It will continue unimpeded. And that will not be good news for Russia (which has to sell its natural gas to Europe) and the U.S. (for which Europe is the single largest market).
Well, have a good week ahead folks, and enjoy the Tamil New Year today!
14th April 2019