By Khalid Hussain
The West is now finally fully fallen apart for the first time since World War II. The proposals for a European military have hit raw nerves on both sides of the Atlantic following a suggestion by Mr Macron to ensure Europe’s security in the shadow of the United States. Brexit in the United Kingdom and the election of President Trump in the United States now stand connected in their desire to be rid of the European Union.
There is no hiding the English animosity to the European Union. The pound fell almost 2 percent against the dollar and was headed for its biggest drop this year against the euro after Brexit minister Dominic Raab and three other ministers resigned in protest against Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan. May’s leadership is now in serious jeopardy and her long-awaited Brexit agreement has proven contentious just hours after it was unveiled. Yet May remains adamant to see her Brexit plan through and is ready to deliver ‘what people voted for’. A vote of no confidence has been triggered. she said she is ‘sorry’ colleagues have left the government but believes what she is doing is right.
The election of Mr Trump to the White House following Brexit in the UK was what gave more urgency to the cause of boosting the EU’s defence capabilities, with leaders warning they cannot simply rely on the United States. It is telling that in 2016, then defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon said the UK would use its veto to stop the creation of any EU army.
Little wonder France has been compelled to give the call for a European military. And Germany has seconded it forcefully. This has come at the heels of American President Trump breaking tradition by insulting the President and the nation of France publicly. And the British Prime Minister fights to retain her office following a political breakdown over her Brexit deal with the European Union.
US President Donald Trump attacked his French counterpart in a series of tweets on Tuesday. His astonishing attack on Macron came two days after he was the French leader´s guest at World War I centenary commemorations in Paris. In five posts sent on the same day France marked the anniversary of the 2015 attacks that killed 130 people, Trump blasted the key US ally over its near defeat to Germany in two world wars, its wine industry and President Emmanuel Macron’s approval ratings. He posted these tweets after returning to Washington from a weekend in Paris to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One where strained relations between the American president and European allies were on full display. Trump, pointed to Macron’s recent comments about Europe’s need to protect itself, tweeting on Tuesday: “Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the US, China and Russia. But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two – How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the US came along. Pay for NATO or not!”
The French president made his call during a radio interview last week: “We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America. Macron’s call reflected a broad trend of EU thinking in response to U.S. demands that Europe do more for its own security and rely less on America’s security umbrella. Following the offensive Tweets by President Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also backed Macron’s call for an EU Army. She set out her vision of a more assertive European Union, with a European army, in the wake of a flurry of provocative tweets from Donald Trump stirring up old divisions between the two key EU allies.
The normally understated chancellor took an uncharacteristically bold stance as she addressed EU lawmakers in Strasbourg. “We should also work on the vision of one day creating a genuine European army,” Merkel said. “The times in which we could unconditionally rely on others are over.” She called for an integrated European Union military, echoing language used by French President Emmanuel Macron last week. “We should work on a vision of one day establishing a real European army,” Merkel told the European Parliament. She said such armed forces would not undermine the US-led military alliance NATO but could be complementary to it.
First proposed in the 1950s and taken up four years ago by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker as a response to fraying EU unity, an EU armed forces is seen as strengthening the global power of the bloc, which is an economic giant but a geopolitical minnow. The European Commission has said it is “delighted” that the leaders of France and Germany have backed the creation of a “real” EU army. A spokesperson for the commission’s president Jean-Claude Juncker said he was “pleased” that the argument for the force seemed to be “going in our direction”.
This clearly delineates new global geo-political fault lines. The Transatlantic alliance is finally over. Mr. Trump might not realize it, but a European military puts and effective end to American Hegemony that has been unchallenged since World War II. This means new alliances are going to be forged and that will have ramifications for the biggest geo-political tussle in the world that has been going on between the United States and China. The on-going tariff tiff between these two countries is going to become a lot more interesting with Trump alienating his EU allies. That the UK is playing in its old team with the Americans tells that the five eyes are now a different block that is going to be increasingly estranged from the EU. This will further weaken the American position of dominance in trade as well as finance.
China will no doubt act carefully. Russia will be wood by the US to counter the EU as well as China. Let’s see how France and Germany convince the rest of Europe it cannot rely on the US and has to defend itself. But the task for our foreign office is rise to these new developments by forging closer ties with the EU, especially with Germany and France.
Khalid Hussain is Resident Editor of TLTP – You may contact Khalid Hussain at Resident.Editor@tltpnews.com.pk
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