The Big Cons and the Vassalization of Europe

Seeing what’s in front of your nose demands a constant struggle.—George Orwell

I’m in Munich, my favorite European city, if I throw out Venice. Is Venice actually a city? At one time it was the center of a vast Mediterranean empire. It strikes me as more of a sprawling, open-air museum frozen in time. I just left there. It was, as always, wonderful.

There is a serious problem with Munich. It is under constant construction and reorganization. The inner city was bombed to smithereens in the Second World War and had to be rebuilt from scratch. That project continues through force of habit.

Another annoyance: I invariably begin the day by digesting my two least favorite establishment media outlets—the Financial Times and the NY Times—while having breakfast. The hotel provides them free of charge. What can one do?

I owe it to myself to keep up-to-date with Washington’s Big Cons which run simultaneously and nonstop, e.g., Ukraine, China, Russia, Iran, Israel, etc. The FT print edition is available in Munich. I love print. At home, I’m stuck with the internet.

Simply put, the Big Cons are the trumpeted false narratives that (a) Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was unprovoked, (b) China wants to invade Taiwan and threatens the peace of the world, (c) Russia is an enduring enemy of the West, (d) Iran is building an atomic bomb to nuke Israel and must be stopped, (e) Israel is an innocent, peace-loving ally of America worthy of unlimited support.

Plus all the rigorous, irrational corollaries supporting these narratives.

A recent FT column by Gideon Rachman caught my eye in the breakfast room and caused heartburn. It seems that Europe has fallen behind America in many important ways. Who knew? Rachman appears to be stunned. This surprising trend apparently commenced in 2008, the year of the global financial crisis. Why?

Rachman proclaims, “The aggregate figures are shocking.” He is right. As a result, Europe’s chances of strategic autonomy from Washington have vaporized. It is a dependency, if not exactly a nonentity.

The trend to nullity was accelerated before our eyes thanks to this insane war in Ukraine. Although instigated in Washington by our neocon and neoliberal masterminds, the war has been enthusiastically embraced by Europe’s lazy, subservient leaders. Even neutral Switzerland was caught up in Ukraine hysteria.

Most importantly, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, holding hands with his “green party” partner, Foreign Minister Anna Baerbock, has shot Germany in both feet, if not in the head. At the behest of Washington, these two have decoupled Germany from inexpensive, easily-accessed Russian energy next door.

In the NY Times and the FT, this is called sanctioning Russia, but it is something more.

It is madness. The real loser, the real sanctionee, is the EU and Europe as a whole, especially its largest economy, Germany. That’s me talking, of course, not FT’s Gideon Rachman. He is “all in” with Washington’s latest lunatic crusade, which now targets Russia for destabilization and regime change.

Just in case the hoodwinked Chancellor Scholz might become bedeviled with second thoughts, Washington bombed the Nord Stream II pipeline awhile back. Check with Seymour Hersh for details.

Scholz has no choice now but to keep the blinkers on, pretend he is in charge, hope for the best, and do as instructed.

So the self-sanctioning of Europe continues in place. Indeed, the whole Ukraine affair is an American show, and can be viewed in large part as a Washington-directed de facto attack upon Europe, with cracked-brain European elites serving as collaborators in the enterprise.

The Europeans, just like the hapless Americans, don’t count and are along for the ride.

It is not only Russia and Ukraine which have been placed in harm’s way by Washington’s coercive machinations. It is Europe, America itself, and the world at large. This well-executed scheme, using Ukraine as the wedge, had been planned for years in Washington.

Rachman’s column is entirely based upon an observation in a study published by the European Council of Foreign Relations. Never heard of it? Neither had I. The paper is entitled, The art of vassalisation: How Russia’s war on Ukraine has transformed transatlantic relations. It is engaging and informative. It was published in April.

The authors detect a problem: “To survive and prosper in the long term, the Atlantic alliance still needs a European pillar that is both militarily capable and politically independent. But the alliance response to the war in Ukraine has made achieving that type of balance much harder.”

The paper takes off from there. The writers desire a Europe with more independence, so that the Atlantic alliance will be more balanced. It is unhealthy otherwise…a form of vassalisation.

Such is their reasoning. Yet, at the same time, they believe Washington is generally making the right decisions on Europe’s behalf.

They concede, “American leadership remains necessary in Europe because Europeans remain incapable of leading themselves.” And why is that? What is the solution?

This is unclear in view of America’s growing economic and technological dominance vis-à-vis Europe. On top of that, we have Washington’s ace in the hole: the U.S. Dollar which acts as the world’s reserve currency, the major prize for winning the Second World War.

The authors point out, “The US has profited from the continuing dominance of its currency to gain an ever expanding capacity to impose financial sanctions on its enemies and allies alike, without really needing anyone’s cooperation…. it is the US dollar and American control of the international financial system that have given the sanctions [against Russia] their bite .”

But now there is the China factor. “The US and its European partners may have returned to their cold war alliance habits, but of course the current geopolitical situation is vastly different than during the cold war.“ That difference, in a word, is China.

The authors note that Joe Biden’s misnamed “Inflation Reduction Act” which seeks to counter the rise of China runs contrary to European economic interests. But Europe is expected to swallow negative US strategic industrial policy because Washington is the provider of European security against nasty Russia.

I could go on. The paper is seductive. You have to accept its assumptions, fixated on Ukraine. The central premise is that Europe is in danger due to Russian aggression. That is a false premise. Putin’s Russia wanted a partnership with Europe, a Eurasian alliance that would have peacefully benefited all concerned.

That was viewed by Washington as a danger to its primacy in the world. Accordingly, the Washington foreign policy establishment has taken counter measures. The contrived war in Ukraine to discredit Russia is the result. The European states have run back to Washington for cover, having lost their ability to think straight. It’s a game.

If Europe genuinely wants more autonomy and independence, it should decouple itself from Washington, not Russia which, after all, is a part of Europe. Ostpolitik makes sense not just for Germany but for Europe as a whole.

There is no threat when mutual self-interests are at stake. I suggest NATO be disbanded and that the EU be expanded to include Russia.

This must sound extreme to readers fed on the pap of the NY Times and the FT, but it makes sense. It does not require a continuation of never-ending tensions between “the West” and Russia.

Why revert to the Cold War, when it and the Warsaw Pact are in the past? Why re-demonize Russia, when it has embraced trade and commerce?

The alternative is to follow the “hedges” suggested at the end of “The Art of Vassalisation”…

(1) Deploy western European forces to the east in greater numbers, so called “tripwire forces”.

(2) Increase European defense spending “on a much higher level” which “will be politically sustainable if it creates jobs in Europe and benefits domestic industry.” In effect, a EU military-industrial complex.

(3) Set up a US, EU, UK “geo-economic NATO” to coordinate industrial policy.

(4) Create a special EU-UK defense partnership.

(5) And last but not least, the kicker, consider a European nuclear deterrent, independent of the U.S. Europe’s two nuclear armed states, UK and France, would be the basis. “Macron has repeatedly offered to enter into a dialogue on this with his EU partners. It is now up to other member states, particularly Germany, to take them up on this offer.” Can you believe it? Forget nuclear nonproliferation. Go nuclear.

And Europe should do all of this why, exactly? Because Russia invaded Ukraine, and this dispute in Russia’s backyard constitutes an existential threat to Europe? I for one don’t buy it.

Let’s not go down that road which will lead to a dead-end. No tripwires for war. No additional nuclear bombs in Europe. For the love of humanity, let’s rethink everything before it is too late.

Reprinted with the author’s permission.

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