Is the North Atlantic Partnership in Danger?
While the Soviet threat remained during the Cold War, Europe—and especially Germany—was highly appreciative of the United States. However, the relationship began to deteriorate in the late 1960s, enhanced by Soviet disinformation and supported by protest movements of the so-called “1968 Generation” and the Vietnam War.
Since then, Europe’s relations with the United States have become increasingly schizophrenic: Europe still needs American protection, while at the same time intensifying its relationships with Russia and China. This, however, is insufficient to balance Europe’s position as a North Atlantic and Eurasian region, due to a lack of military power.
To keep good relationships, Europe needs both sides. However, in instances of tensions between the Atlantic partners, the European public and politicians have, especially over the past 20 years, taken a very one-sided course and mostly have blamed the United States.
This has been especially striking in the relationship with U.S. presidents. In Europe, President George W. Bush was considered a danger, while President Barack Obama was well-liked.
Now, Donald Trump is considered a major threat to world peace. However, if one ignores his sometimes rash behavior, one can find sound policies and people in his administration who consider Europe’s protection a top priority.
There is a European schizophrenia in the admiration of President Barack Obama’s policies and the claim that presidents Bush and Trump hurt the transatlantic relationship. Both the Bush and Trump administrations have considered Europe an important issue, while Obama’s pivot to Asia had a distinctively different orientation. Europe was clearly a less significant concern.
In fact, one year after leaving office, Obama’s decision to pull out of Iraq and destabilize the Syrian regime, as well as get rid of the Libyan regime altogether, have helped ISIS and other terrorist groups. The European refugee crisis is a direct result of these policies, yet Obama remains as popular as ever.
On the other hand, Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear agreement has again caused strain in the relationship. Some claim the move is a major threat to the international framework and stability. According to the European mantra, there is one culprit: Donald Trump. On the surface, this might appear correct, but if we dive a little deeper, the story looks somewhat different.
Iran’s politics, as well as its military and paramilitary activities, including the support of terrorism, are destabilizing the entire Middle East. Tehran intends to become the dominant regional power and advances that agenda with all means.
It supports civil wars and threatens Israel’s very existence. Moreover, it poses an existential danger to Saudi Arabia, doing its utmost to control Syria and Yemen. Its support of terrorist organization Hezbollah weakens Lebanon, strengthens its own access to the Mediterranean, and makes possible direct attacks on Israel. All of this also presents significant challenges for Turkey.
The Iran nuclear agreement, which was reached between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany, did not include any neighboring countries.
It contained no provision that protected Iran’s Middle Eastern neighbors from its subversive and terrorist agitation. The agreement was a priority for Obama, and the administration was in a rush to conclude it, but the Europeans could have pointed out this problem.
Leaders in the UK, Germany, and France are now appalled that the new administration withdrew from the deal. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel both visited Washington in April, begging Trump to maintain the agreement.
Macron tried to use French “grandeur” and youthful charm, while Merkel tried the German attitude of “Bedenken” (compunction)—both in vain. Does that mean that Washington made the wrong move and that the White House is at fault? Not necessarily.
Since the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, it had been well-known that Trump considered the agreement deficient and that he wanted a replacement. Once Trump was elected, London, Paris, and Berlin had ample time to try to renegotiate with the other partners of the agreement. This was neglected, and Trump’s move wasn’t exactly a surprise.
Now the UK, France, and Germany are paradoxically seeking the support of Russia and China to counterbalance the United States.
Washington may have been the trigger, but European negligence was the cause of the current situation. And the losers are not only the countries of the Middle East, but also the Western alliance.
Prince Michael of Liechtenstein is the executive chairman of trust company Industrie- und Finanzkontor, and founder and chairman of Geopolitical Intelligence Services. This article was first published by GIS Reports Online.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.