This crisis has not only abated but it has been exacerbated with the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the EU with the suspected assistance of Russia who put its finger on the scale. Trump has welcomed Brexit, has declared NATO “obsolete,” is more concerned with the dues owned to NATO than in strengthening its resolve against the Russian bear roaming around, and has thus encouraged right wing movements for next year’s elections in Germany, France, the Netherland, Italy.
A 70 year alliance, Atlantic so called, which had assured stability and prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean is now in jeopardy hostage to right-wing political forces of populism and ultra-nationalism and the naïve notion that in trade there are winners and losers and therefore Germany who runs a surplus with the US is a winner and the US is a loser. Never mind that the US and the EU trade 700 billions of goods and services every year.
The threat to the union on every level is now considered existential and the more it is so perceived the more the focus will shift from examining its origins to considering its bleak future. It is perceived so menacing that it has been placed in the same category as that posed by an assertive China and that of an aggressive Russia toward the Ukraine, not to mention the Baltic countries which are now part of the EU and NATO.
There is little doubt that because of a weak identity the centrifugal forces of disintegration in the EU continue to gather momentum. The rise of right-wing fascist groups all over the continent, stoked by mass immigration and dislocation does not help either. The likes of Marine Le Pen are hoping to win the presidency, ditch the euro and proceed with further dismemberment. It’s a sad scenario and the storm has not even erupted yet.
But there is however a silver lining which may be worth considering. The effect that Trump and Bonner’s toxic Euroskepticism is having on Europe’s political leaders is that, despite all the pious assurances of Trump’s sycophants and aides who have come to Europe to square the circle and declare a deranged logic that says that a thing can be and not be at the same time, they are coming together as never before. Whether or not they also discover their identity remains to be seen.
In any case, the famous sobering quip of Benjamin Franklyn to the American revolutionary colonies is beginning to dawn on the Europeans with all its wisdom and impact: “either we hang together, or we will surely hang separately.” It is beginning to dawn that without genuine political solidarity that goes beyond the Central Bank lending loans to EU countries in financial trouble (at exorbitant interests, to be sure), the EU may continue to disintegrate and may even not survive.
As we speak, we continue to witness a naïve political analysis by experts that believe that Trump deranged policies will only enrage enough Europeans to elect principled candidates with principled stands. For example, they have urged American climate scientists whose research is currently imperiled by Trump’s policies, to move to France. There they will meet with the Wizard of Oz and all will be well. They will all criticize Trump’s policies as “un-American” has Martin Schulz has proclaimed while challenging Angela Merkel in up-coming elections. He has asserted that, as Chacellor, he will denounce Trump’s wrecking ball causing havoc to democratic values. He will declare that the EU and Germany’s policy is not that of the US. This is the other side of the coin of cynicism and Machiavellianism. And, of course, Bonner and Trump will thumb their nose at that kind of disingenuousness, as will Putin too, as long as the dismemberment continues unabated.
European voters seem to have accepted Schulz’ brave suggestion, given that his party is now on the ascendancy over the Christian Democrats of Merkel. But the fact remains that it must seem naïve to both Putin and Trump used to the cynical “art of the deal.” Who is the naïve now?
But, it must be acknowledged that even these naïve proposals have had the effect of closing the ranks. The Europeans are beginning to realize that the best response to Trump is European unity. What remains to be done now, is to find its genuine identity after a serious and honest dialogue on the issue.
“Either we hang together or we will surely hang separately”--Benjamin Franklyn to the Colonial Congress
“I don’t really care whether Europe is separate or together”--Donald Trump