Автор: Sergei Rogov, USA and Canada Institute Director, Russian News Agency, Moscow
Today notion of "Europe" has acquired a clearer, more organized definition. Looking at European Union documents, we see that the terms "European Union" and "Europe" are used interchangeably. This is the first reason that has led Russia, and possibly Belarus and the Ukraine, to certain presumptions. It implies that the countries that are not institutional members of the European Union are perceived as being outside the scope of the notion of "Europe". This is not a pleasant feeling - at least for a majority of Russians and the better part of Muscovites who are convinced that they are partially European.
Considering the trends in European development, we can say that the European Union has entered a new phase in its consolidation. And in about 10-15 years, it will look more like a confederation with a considerable part of the national functions and sovereignty functions being handed up to super-national bodies.
The third point related to Europe, namely the European Union, is the transformation of the European Union from a solely economic unit into a union with a political and military character. Sin-ce 1999, in accordance with the documents adopted in Cologne and Helsinki, the European Union began to acquire the characteristics of a military union, able to make decisions to resort to military force and suspension of hostilities should its political objectives be obtained. Though the European Union does not perceive itself as a military alliance, features of a military alliance are being outlined. European defense and foreign policy, in my opinion, is a very serious matter - no longer just a motto. However, even if only the first steps in the establishment of a European military and defense policy have been undertaken, what is important is that the process has already begun.
I would like to emphasize, once again, the point which I stated at the beginning. In general, Russia is an outsider, a spectator of the processes that are occurring today in Europe, in the European Union. There may be very serious consequences for Russia's internal development if this "outsider" status remains unchanged. The problem with relations between Russia and the European Union are worded not like "Russia in Europe" but like "Russia and Europe". I don't dare make estimates for Belarus, but I think that certain parallels with Belarus' situation can be drawn. In this respect, Europe from Brest to Brest may signify that Europe's border, indeed, will be drawn near Brest. It seems to me that this is the very example of which Anatoliy Mikhailov was speaking; our best intentions, for many Russians, and I think, for many Belarusians as well, resulted in something unexpected and not very pleasant.
Allow me mention a few words about the United States, as we all are curious as to what's going on there. It looks as if a second George Bush Administration has come into power. We get the feeling that it was on vacation for a while (during which, unskillful young people took their turns at the wheel), but now the vacation is over and everyone has returned to the ranks. This gives them the opportunity to continue where they left off in January of 1993. Nevertheless, the new President George Bush differs from his father, as he does
I think that George Bush, Jr. is an important political figure. He already managed to undertake a very unusual political step in domestic policy. Last year, Bush led the Republican Party to the centre
which seemed to have been solidly occupied by Democrats during the Clinton and Gore administration. In the same manner, as Clinton and Gore managed to diverge from the traditional leftist lines, to move towards the centre, and by means of it, ensure Democrat domination in US political life of the 90s, George Bush carried out the same maneuver. But this was only on the right flank as he announced his centrist positions during last year's elections and doing so, succeeded in not loosing right wing support. The result was fifty-fifty. In the end, everything depended on a couple hundred votes in Florida. But this result was the reflection of a situation where voters had to choose between two very similar electoral platforms. In general, the elections of 2000 only confirmed the former soviet rubber stamp that the two large bourgeois US parties - Democrats and Republicans - are not distinguishable from one another. One of the unexpected outcomes of the latest US presidential elections was the revelation of the well-known professional fact that the United States is the only modern democratic country where the one-person-one-vote principle is not working. No one denies that Albert Gore received half a million more casts, but the rules of the game are different and according to them, George Bush has become president. This means that the United States entered the XXI century with the Constitution of an aristocratic republic of the XVIII century, in which the choice of the leader is not determined by an elector selected, can be trusted to the president's election.. Only the most qualified citizens, specially
The second point concerning Bush's administration is its extraordinarily strong foreign policy team. This is a team of first-class professionals who, maybe, have not been involved in active work for the past 8 years, but on the basis of their qualifications, are considered to be the strongest administration in decades. Nevertheless, the administration today has only slogans, and no strategy. It's too early to predict what the future strategy of George Bush's administration will be. Only the first round of appointees has been defined, and the second is still in progress. A strategy revision was announced, but the new administration hasn't made any jerky moves. I believe it will take about half a year to define the major outlines of Bush's strategy.
In spite of the fact that prophesying is a thankless job, I dare to predict the following tendencies of this strategy. First of all, there will be a greater emphasis on traditional power structures (the 'hard power' vs. the 'soft power' which was the core of Clinton's administration). This means that the Republicans today strongly believe in classical foreign and defense policy power. This will be their springboard.
The next point is the fear related to the possibility that the US will overexert itself by trying to solve all the outstanding problems in the world. Madeleine Albright once said: "The United States is an indispensable country". Yes, Americans should settle all the disputes themselves - no matter if these are the disputes of Haiti, Kosovo, or Somali. The Republicans, on their part, think they should take care of major things and not dissipate their energy on trifles.
Another point is defining the candidates for "whipping boy". Right now, there are definitely two candidates: S. Hussein and the great North-Korean leader, Comrade Kim. But it's possible that a third "boy" could be included in this list. For now, the face remains undefined.
One more point. If we're speaking about top priorities, problem number one is China. How to treat China, and how to get it to stick to America's rules - these issues are on the top-priority list of Washington officials. China is not perceived as an enemy as much as it is a rival, a country that could possibly compete in power with the US in XXI century. And consequently, the task for the States is not to let China accumulate military potential that can be comparable to America's. This means avoiding a situation where China takes the place of for-mer Soviet Union in the "cold war" years, as a country almost equal in military potential to the USA.
Regarding Europe and the European Union, the United States during Bush's administration will try to restore America's absolute leadership in western society. The criticism of Clinton and the Democrats on the part the Republicans was partially due to the fact that they allowed Europe, to a large extent, to become undisciplined. Today's leaders of the Republican administration remember how it was during the first Bush administration, and even how it was during earlier times when the western community marched to the drum beat of the US. As of now, it's not following strict American instructions, and there's now a need to put everyone in his place.
I would like to quote an extraordinary politician who was appointed as US State Secretary Assistant on International Security Issues and Arms Control-John Bolton. His name is not yet familiar to many, though Bolton enjoys a rather specific reputation among Republican ranks. For instance, it was he who once said: "It is time we restore the policy of two Chinas". But his favorite subject is the European Union. His logic is the following: no one denies the fact that the USA deliberately helped Europe during the Cold War; it carried out the Marshal plan so that Europe could restore its power, but this was done in order to restrain Soviet Union. Briefly, this was justified. But after the end of the Cold War, "Europe became imprudent because of the Clinton Administration's stupidity". I am quoting him almost word for word. What's more, economically, Europe is becoming a rather serious rival to the United States and by no means, reckons with American leadership. In general, the European Currency Fund and Euro are a direct threats to American dominance in the sphere of world finances. But the European Union under the cover of the European motto of defense and foreign policy obviously doesn't want to act by NATO's instructions, i.e. by US instructions. Bolton's slogan is "It is imperative that the European Union be put immediately into its place" before separatism of the European Union leads to a NATO collapse, and western community breaks down. All of this sounds more like mocking, grotesque, but I am indeed quoting Mr. Bolton's statement at the Congressional hearing last year almost verbatim.
So the problem with relations between the United States and the European Union will acquire new dimensions with regard to these conditions. In my opinion, the European Union doesn't at all want to divide NATO, and by no means is it longing for a western community collapse. But today's tendency is towards the restatement of NATO's and the western community's rules under which the European Union will actually become a second base, along with the US, for the western community. NATO and the western world will rest on two rocks. Will the Bush administration accept it? It seems that a couple of interesting variants are possible here, and the upcoming year will not be easy for NATO, for the United States, nor for the European Union. Even now, a rather powerful pressure on the Americans part related to the establishment of European Rapid Reaction Forces is perceivable. The United States has clearly raised the point that these forces should not act independently of NATO.
Another sphere of tension is national anti-missile defense. Today, as it was 20 years ago and as it will be in 10 years, Americans will not have efficient anti-missile defense technology. But in this, only a political factor is perceived - nothing virtual, but as something politically concrete. The US anti-missile defense system is directed, firstly, against China. This is a very serious tool which should demonstrate to China that China will never be able to compete with the United States in military terms. The second point is Europe and the European Union. The extended deterrence which has been in enforced for four decades is becoming obsolete as Europe is no longer threatened by anyone putting aside Kalinigrad and Belarus. But as this doesn't require an American nuclear umbrella, and on the whole, probably no umbrella is needed, the extended deterrence is questionable. The anti-missile defense system is the type of instrument which renovates the American umbrella over Europe (not nuclear now, but anti-missile) and thus is strengthening American leadership.
I have tried, in a rather provocative way, to define a number of the issues related to the European Union, NATO, the United States, and Russia. But I would like to finish with the following statement: Today, neither the European Union nor NATO has a strategy in regard to Russia. There is cheap propaganda, "there is no need for Russia to be worried, it has always been and always will be in Europe." But this statement is unfounded because key decisions concerning the economic, political, and military situations in Europe are made without Russian participation. The same can be said about Belarus or the Ukraine. If such a strategy is not accepted, it will lead to a further alienation of Russia from Europe and the West. And movement in one direction will evoke rather serious consequences on the world's other side. The prospects for a Russian-Chinese strategic alliance today are looking more feasible than they were 2 or 3 years ago. This means that the absence of a strategy toward the integration of Russia, Belarus, and the Ukraine may cause very serious geopolitical consequences not only in Europe, not only on the Boug, not only near Brest, but also on a global scale. I think that this scenario could have had very
negative aftermath for Russia, and for our internal development. I suppose that this is a scenario makes the European Union and the United States losers as well. This is why discussion today (it's clear that we won't solve all the world issues at this table) should at least lead us to the issue of strategy, and the to strategy of integration. If there is no such strategy, all partial, fragmentary gestures will not give way to any long-term, positive results.
Опубликовано 09 июня 2016 года
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