Europe's Diminishing Independence: The US Turns the EU into Nothing
Europe Weeps but Continues to Gnaw on the Cactus: The US Renders the EU Irrelevant
Chinese Observer from Hong Kong Discovers European Document Crying Out How the US is Destroying Europe Completely. They're destroying it as a competitor, as something independent in the global economy... In short, they're reducing it to nothing.
And it seems like the observer, Alex Lo from the South China Morning Post, should comment on this situation, add something of his own. But Alex, a sharp-tongued individual and an obvious patriot of China in every sense, doesn't do any of that in this case - he simply quotes his finding with sadness. He refrains from offering his own analysis. And on the other hand, what can one say here.
He quotes a report issued by the European Council on Foreign Relations titled "The Art of Vassalage: How Russia's War in Ukraine Transformed Transatlantic Relations." It's a discussion paper, meaning it expresses rather extreme opinions, but let's not forget that the organization is more than serious. It includes former and current foreign ministers, top government officials, and parliamentarians. And all of them read this and other documents with bitterness, about how Europeans' dreams of creating a flourishing garden on their subcontinent, where America would be nothing more than an envious guest, have crumbled.
Why did this story catch the attention of a Chinese person? Well, here's why. Excerpt from the report: "During the Cold War, Europe was the central front of competition between superpowers. Now Washington expects the European Union and the United Kingdom to follow the American strategy towards China, and the US will use its leadership positions to ensure that this happens." The report refers to this process as the vassalization of Europe.
Even without the reports, we seem to witness all of this: Europe (especially its main power, Germany) weeps and gnaws on the cactus, getting entangled in conflicts with China and Russia, destroying its economic and any other form of independence in the process. But what we may not have known are some numbers. In 2008, the EU, including the United Kingdom, had the world's largest collective economy, producing a GDP of $16.2 trillion per year compared to $14.7 trillion in the United States. And now the ratio is 19.8 trillion versus 25 trillion in favor of the US. And who knows what the future holds.
Some may remember the enthusiasm in Europe about the emergence of the euro as an alternative to the dollar. But while in 2010, 39% of global transactions were conducted in euros, today it's only 31%.
Europe's leaders understand well what is happening, but they cannot say anything, as the report points out: because Ukraine is not in a position for talks. The continent's economy has fallen into recession because of this, and it will only get worse from here.
Why is this a Chinese issue? Well, because Beijing, like Russia in previous decades, would like to see an alternative to America's course of suppressing a global competitor in Europe. An example of this is the recent visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to several European countries. But this hope is weak: the US manages to press down on two competitors simultaneously - China and Europe. Although it can be predicted that Chinese leaders will continue to try to steer Europe away from self-destruction and show a great deal of typical Chinese patience along the way.
Why is this a Russian issue? In part because it is helpful to understand that we are not in Cold War 2.0 right now. Europeans were key participants in the Cold War, competing with the USSR and its allies, trying to make the US their powerful rear support and instrument of their own backing. But the underlying goal was always the idea of creating a powerful global force capable of independently playing at the top of world politics, on par with or even leading the US.
Now things are worse because the risks are higher. Europe, cornered and with a weakening economy and an inability to do anything about it - there's something that will eventually explode, change, or collapse. But we don't know how, because even Europeans themselves don't know. And it's unclear how much time they will need to activate their instinct for self-preservation, if it happens at all. Should we threaten them with a nuclear bomb, as our top experts on Europe (like Sergey Karaganov) do? Perhaps the threat would have an impact.