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Trump’s betrayal and the future of the EU

In the age of Trump, the EU must strive toward ending its psychological and emotional dependency on the U.S. and be prepared to act unilaterally and independently

By: EBR - Posted: Friday, August 10, 2018

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In short order, Trump has shattered this most unique and successful alliance, questioned the value of NATO and disgraced its leaders. He is keen to tear Europe apart and subject it, along with his United States, to the whims of the West’s harshest enemy, Putin’s Russia.
In short order, Trump has shattered this most unique and successful alliance, questioned the value of NATO and disgraced its leaders. He is keen to tear Europe apart and subject it, along with his United States, to the whims of the West’s harshest enemy, Putin’s Russia.

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by Alon Ben-Meir*

Every U.S. President from Truman to Obama honored and took pride in America’s historic contribution to the rebuilding of Europe from the ashes of World War II, which led to the emergence of NATO and the European Union.

They did so as a testimony to America’s greatness, shining as the beacon of democracy and human rights, and inspiring scores of other nations to emulate it. The allies on both sides of the Atlantic stood together for what is right and moral. That is, until Trump became the President of the United States.

In short order, Trump has shattered this most unique and successful alliance, questioned the value of NATO and disgraced its leaders. He is keen to tear Europe apart and subject it, along with his United States, to the whims of the West’s harshest enemy, Putin’s Russia.

Trump’s betrayal of our European allies will be remembered as the darkest chapter in the history of the NATO alliance, and it will not be rectified as long as Trump is in power. Trump’s unreserved respect for the West’s foremost nemesis—Putin—was unconscionably disgusting and outlandish, if not a betrayal.

A historic opportunity

Due to this erratic behavior, Trump has now provided a historic opportunity for the EU to reassess its role and commitment to its alliance with the United States. Whereas the EU must make every effort to preserve the integrity of the alliance, it must strive toward ending its psychological and emotional dependency on the United States and anchor the alliance with America on a mutuality of strategic objectives.

That means the EU must be prepared to act unilaterally and independently when its collective national security interest is threatened, with or without the support of the United States. The EU will be far more respected by the United States. and treated as an equal by assuming an independent posture, which must be sustained regardless of who occupies the White House.

To that end, the EU ought to develop its own vision of where it wants to be in the next 15 to 20 years, and what measures it must take to preserve the integrity of the European alliance. The door will remain open for America’s leadership under a sane and principled president who understands the far-reaching values of the alliance.

European defense

This time, however, the EU should build the political and defense mechanism with all that implies to stand on its own.

Notwithstanding the fact that Merkel has until now been dancing around the issue of European defense due to the haunting history of Nazism, she has finally come to the conclusion in the wake of Trump’s mischiefs that it’s time for the European community to take care of itself. The key is that she follows up those words with real-world deeds.

Independently from the United States, the EU ought to strengthen its military capability and acquire credible deterrence against Russia. As such, the EU must remain the most potent military force in Europe within NATO’s framework and allocate all necessary funding to that end.

In this regard, the EU should reassess Turkey’s reliability and trustworthiness as a member in NATO and must not rule out kicking Turkey out as long as Ankara defies the NATO charter by its gross human rights violations and its cozying up to Europe’s foremost nemesis—Russia.

The EU must reform

The EU must also consolidate its institutions by reforming its constitution, particularly the decision-making process to enact timely and more effective policies. This is very important, especially now that it faces turmoil related to Brexit and internal political discord. Furthermore, it must develop a permanent financial structure that addresses the needs of member states experiencing financial difficulties such as Greece.

The EU should freeze further expansion of its member states until such time when it has realized much of its reforms. Meanwhile, the EU ought to develop and nurture relations with all potential candidates for membership, particularly the Balkan countries, to stifle the ambitions of Turkey’s Erdogan from luring these states into his Islamic orbit.

The EU needs also to focus on resolving conflicts, especially in the Middle East and Africa, as these have a direct and indirect impact on Europe.

The EU has direct strategic and security interests to play an active role in the search for a solution to the conflicts in Libya (a byproduct of the European role in toppling Gaddafi) and Yemen and should certainly make continuing efforts to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, however illusive that may seem.

The EU ought to change the nature of the relationship with Africa not simply from donor to recipient, but play a direct role in the growth of underdeveloped African countries—not only because it has a moral obligation resulting from colonialism, but because such efforts serve the EU’s own security interests.

A substantial part of the EU’s extensive financial contribution to the African Union (over $3 billion since 2004) should be devoted to sustainable development projects to provide job opportunities and empower local communities. This is the most effective way of addressing the root causes of violent extremism and migration, from which the EU suffers greatly.

*Senior Fellow at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs and Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute
*First published in theglobalist.com

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