Magazine article Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy

The Lights Are Looking East, All over Europe

Magazine article Defense & Foreign Affairs Strategic Policy

The Lights Are Looking East, All over Europe

Article excerpt

UROPE is at a pivotal point. Or, rather, it is at a point where its structural transformation can no longer be ignored.

Events in Europe have finally led us to the dénouement of the 20th Century. It may presage a new Europe tied more firmly into the Eurasian heartland than old Europe. It is the end - 'though not without economic, social, and political pain - of the 20th Century form of Atlanticism.

Similarly, the United States and much of the West is at a pivotal point, except that - by almost all public reaction - this reality can be, and is being, ignored. Within the morphing of the US, as it sidesteps the question of its own strategic pivot (and the signs of its own strategic mortality), Washington has - like Europe - walked away from the 20th Century form of Atlanticism, in favor of a Pacific orientation (but a Pacific orientation which continues to remain ignorant of the reality that it is the Indian Ocean which is the dynamic).

The Presidential elections in France on May 6, 2012, and Parliamentary elections in Greece on the same day - each overturning the status quo - brought some aspects of the European "crisis" back into international debate.

There is as yet no revolution in Europe, or the US, or elsewhere in the greater West, which will see massive transformation from one day to the next. The process of change is more gradual; more evolutionary than revolutionary. It is nonetheless profound. The election of a doctrinaire socialist, François Holland, to the French Presidency will not appear at first to yield dramatic change. Neither did the election of a doctrinaire socialist to the US Presidency when Barack Obama took office. And Holland knows that, however much he wishes to appease his electorate by offering to extend the benefits of government employment, he has little room for maneuver within the German-dominated eurozone. If anything, the removal of Nicolas Sarkozy as French President places Germany even more at the center, and in control, of European continental power.

Arguably, now, more than ever, the European Union is Germany. And Germany, which wishes this outcome above all else because it sees it as an alternative to a fratricidal, war-torn Europe, then has to accept that a high level of structural inefficiencies in most eurozone member states degrades the average economic performance of the whole. Even so, it gives Germany, essentially, a massive market and manpower base.

So now, whatever Holland might do to cause France to retreat somewhat from eurozone diktat, Europe has become Germany. How long it remains thus is still open to question.

This structural shift, with Continental Europe turning eastward and the US turning Westward (with both actually gazing across the world to East Asia), has some interesting ramifications for the continued viability of 20th Century alliances and even terms such as "Westernism" and "Easternism". North Atlantic states, such as the United Kingdom and, to a degree, Canada, and some of those European littoral states clinging to "Westernism", will need to look to their futures and decide how to ensure them. The UK, already facing a breakdown in internal sovereignty or cohesion as a unitary state, will have to consider whether it wishes to once again become a major state in its own right (and therefore resist the fissiparous tendencies of the Celts), or whether it will be content to be essentially a city-state built around the markets of London. …

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