Veranstaltungen: Dokumentation

17.9.2003 | Von:
Yann Moulier Boutang

Panel: Disputing the New World Order : The position of Europe on the Transatlantic Context


Some remarks about transatlantic relationships and the building up of the European Union

1. The rebuke of the war solution in Iraq among the Security Council of the UN by Germany, Belgium and France, rejoined by Russia is perhaps one of the most important event for the political history of the European Union since the signature of the German-French Treaty between Adenauer and de Gaulle, with the German reunification and the re-inclusion of Eastern European countries in the UE

2. Several signals had appeared before that make the event not so surprising : the position of France and Germany in the Kosovo war, the Saint-Malo agreement between France and Great Britain on european defense (december 2001), and the famous speach of Joschka Fischer delivered at the Humboldt University of Berlin ( may 12 th 2000).

3. Untill october 2003, the main obstacle to a deeper fusion of the foreign policy of the row largest nation States of the European Union, had always been precisely the problem of the nature of relationship of Europe with Nato and the US. Whatever had been its boldness in several issues, (e.g. the Ost-Politik of Brandt), Germany had never challenged Nato´s alliance and the transatlantic leadership of the US. Whereas the gaullist France had breached in 1967 it belongings with the military organisation of Nato, withdrawing the Shape from its territory.

4. What was remarkable in this emancipation from american trusteeship, is that it involved also a little country of Europe, Belgium which harbours both the capital of the E.U and the Nato´s headquarters.

5. This could have been but a short crisis. But in the meantime Europe was living the Constitutional moment of the Convention, Russia started to pay much attention to Europe and the third world members of the Security council Cameroun, Angola,Chile, Mexico backed by Lulla Brazil and M´Beki South Africa resist the pressure of the Republicain administration.

6. This leads us to two mains statements, a bit provocative, about transatlantic relationships:

a. The gap between US and EU is not only a conjonctural and merely diplomatic dissent. It is an already old and structural issue. The term of gap commonly used on both side of the Ocean, conveys quite well the idea of a drift of continent, a geological movement slow but powerful. On almost every issue since the collapse of communism, Europe ( i-e. the kernel of the six founding countries of EEC) has dissent from US administration policies in foreign, commercial, economic, ecological, military matters. It is not necessary to dwell upon Palestine and Israel conflict, WTO various rounds including generic, GMO, software patents, Kyôto´s Protocol, nuclear weapons, stars shield program. The crusade against terrorism being only the cherry upon the cake.

b. Although right wing european politicians and american democrats have argue : that is the escapability of the gap through a sound and multilateral policy that could reanimate and foster dialogue, we must wait for a serious worsening of the gap in the future. Let me give you two rationale for that "bad new".First the position taken by President Chirac and Chancelor Schröder was backed by a powerful trend of the public opinion not only in their respective countries but all over Europe and specially within countries like Spain , Portugal and Great Britain, not to speak of Polonia. February 15th demonstrations were everywhere in the world expression for Peace, but in Europe it destroyed one main argument of the "sovereignist" party (those who advocate for a confederation of Nations instead of a federation) , that is : the void of a European demos, which is grasped through the public opinion (in polls) in a democratic regime. The manifesto of june 2th of Habermas and Derrida two of the outstanding intellectuals in Continental Europe, testified this new born European consciousness even if some of their arguments could be jeopardised. My second argument is a rather economical and strategic one. A more dynamic economic policy in order to escape the Japanese disease, i-e a floppy growth rate ( see Paul Krugman analysis) , and a European Central Bank that takes into account not only price stability but also employment rate, will necessary develop a program of public investment be it in building, transport and railways industries ( like the Italian proposal), or in research, education, new technologies in order to fulfil objectives of the Lisbon submit. The Stability Pact stipulations forbid a fiscal deficit of more than 3 % of GNP in the long run. That´s why the only technical solution to subsidise at a federal level the economic activity is to borrow money in the domestic market or in the world market using euro as a international currency. But this very need, contrasts obviously US need to get an positive inflow of 2 or 3 billion dollars of capital per day, in order to balance the deficit in trade, in the federal budget, and in war expenditures in Irak. Sooner or later, the raise of Europe as a unified federal power will lead to an increasing role of Euro in trade (specially oil trade with Middle-East) and seriously challenge the ability for the Fed to escape the international constraint on the dollar.

7. If the transatlantic situation can be sketched in such way, one can explain two things, and I will end my statement by these last remarks.

A. The clamorous success of the so-called "Hawks" within the Republican Administration, is not a matter of transitory fashion. I was deeply surprised by a very long Tribune in Le Monde, last Spring, gathering a very impressive list of American members of the former and actual administration, and several right wing atlantist politician, like Alain Madelin. The proposal to tighten the transatlantic link, included the presence of a member of the US government within each meeting of the European Commission and the European Council. A sort of co-governance of the EU as if Europe was a Province of Empire. It demonstrates to what extend the Americans administration has underestimated what is happening in Europe, that is the desire for a self government at a federal level, even if the term was avoided for diplomatic reason by Germany.

B. The second point is that the clamorous attempt of Donald Rumsfeld to split the New Europe and the "Old Europe", tricky and astute as it was, backing two heterogeneous components ( the old and already reactive atlantist behaviour of Great Britain, and the fear of eastern countries, of any kind of limited sovereignty since it has always meant the right for the Russian army to invade them) , is not very productive in the long run. The more the transatlantic gap is deepening, the more the attempt to divide Europe will make it clear for a growing sector of the public opinion that one strategic aim of US international policy is now to prevent the birth of Europe as a political power.

From a rather realistic analysis of the on going challenge of American leadership and superpower, (Europe and China), Robert Kagan brilliant analysis risks to become a mere wishful thinking. Kagan says the politics of Europe is a Venus and Kant´s Enlighments addicted policy because Europe is fickle and weak. One could hear quite differently the subliminal message : Europe should not become a military and diplomatic power. Last question : by the beginning of the XIXth century, European Nation States, including United Kingdom used to scorn at the weakness of the new born United States.

But I must add my last remark : the challenge Europe faces nowadays is more more complicated that the Philadelphian successful endeavours of the Federalists like Madison. We are not building up a Nation, with one language, one power, and a whasp dominant group; We come from the oldest Nations states in the world one the one hand, from Frederic II, Charles The Fifth and Napoleon failed attempts to build the Saint-Roman-Germanic Empire, a multitudes of cultures. We have too many writers, artists, composers, kings, heroes, scholars, scientists, religious, to rehearse the mythology of unity and origin. Jacobinism, as well as multiculturalism are not a solution for our problem. What is to be European , What is a federal government ? Those questions used to be typically american. It seems that the spirit of America has crossed the Atlantic. The news are not so bad.

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