Europe Concerned about West’s Decline and EU’s Uncertain Future

2020/02/29 | interview, political, top news

Strategic Council Online: A professor of international relations, explaining the reasons for Europe's and America's disagreement over the “West's decline”, said Europe believes Britain's departure from the EU would add to the transatlantic burden, undermining Europe's role. They are worried that the United States and Britain will abandon Europe more than before, so what the Europeans see as the decline of the West is not so irrational.

In an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Dr Jahanbakhsh Izadi pointed out the differences between the US and Europe on the “decline of the West” at the Munich Security Conference and said: The reality is that there are differences between the US and Europe, but the level and the nature of these differences and the origin of those issues need to be examined separately.

Origin of US-EU Differences

Explaining the origin of differences between the US and Europe that leads to a different understanding of the subject of Western decline, he said: “The origin of the differences goes back to two things. One is the Republican rule over the White House and the other is Trump’s takeover as a personality, both aspects being predictable!

He said the American “hawks” are not very active in interacting with international institutions, but their rival, namely the Democrats are also called institutionalists. That is to say that the Democrats work and interact with international institutions more than the Republicans, the professor added. We can regard Obama and Clinton as two instances that usually interacted with specialized committees, the United Nations and affiliated agencies, respected their regulations and expanded the scope of engagement to European countries and their allies.

The international affairs analyst said that the Democrats were more in touch with Europe and their intergovernmental organizations, adding Mr Obama, as an institutionalist, while on a trip to Saudi Arabia said: You would better accept the cold peace and observe the law on rivalry about Iran in the region. Respect Iran’s influence and presence in the region. So far this thinking has been extensible.

Emphasizing that the Republicans would neither tolerate nor exercise this amount of engagement, he said: “Some of the actions Trump is pursuing represent his partisan thinking. But another part relates to Trump’s way of dialogue and behaviour and it is a personal matter.” For example, if the Republicans did not apparently weaken or pressurize NATO before, Trump would openly state this and tell NATO members ‘increase your budget and if you want our support to modify your behaviour to please us. The explicit character of this personality, the type of his expression and behaviour not suiting the White House is a matter for Trump.”

 

Cause of Different Outlooks on ‘Decline of the West’

The Munich Security Report 2020 sheds light on the phenomenon that it refers to as “Westlessness” – a widespread feeling of uneasiness and restlessness in the face of increasing uncertainty about the enduring purpose of the West. A multitude of security challenges seems to have become inseparable from what some describe as the decay of the Western project.

The professor of international relations said that Westlessness meant that the Western established order was losing its significance both theoretically and structurally. Referring to the statement by the US secretary of state that the West had not been weakened and was moving on track to victory at the same speed, he said: Part of the differences between the two sides relates to “approaches” and part to “supply sources”.

Izadi explained, for example, that “budget” and “abuse” issues are among the differences between the two sides. Even under Barrack Obama, we’ve seen him say that some of our Arab allies and some of our European allies seek to abuse the power of America. That is to say, even this discourse is also not new.

America, Europe Have Different Outlooks about China, Russia

The professor of international relations saw the degree of sensitivity on Russia between Europe and the US, saying that Americans are not as sensitive as Europe to Russia because the latter is closer to Europe and has wider trade ties with them. Americans have none of these two considerations. So it’s natural for priorities to be different, but Americans believe the Chinese are conquering global markets on America’s behalf and this is not a matter of concern to Europeans and that they have no sensitivity to worry about China. These are, of course, symbols of these differences.

He cited the issue of Iran’s Nuclear Agreement as another symbol of differences between Europe and the United States. He added: Europeans believe that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will provide security for Europe, but Americans see the issue as a matter of honour and sovereignty, so their view is different. If Europeans are worried about the outbreak of war in the Middle East, it is because of the size of immigrants and the threat to European security and the difficulty of energy transfer to Europe. Americans do not have any of these considerations, so the type of disagreement is quite evident and cannot be denied.

Noting that the origin of the international order is Western, Izadi said: “The institutions that have been established and the security that is being defined, whether soft or hard security is Western.” In fact, the West has built a United Nations and has offered liberal or democratic values ​​to the world, and now it feels like there are competitors that might take it from the West. It’s not just about security; it’s about economics, culture, and a multiplicity of resources.

America Views Europe as Abusive

He said that the issue of Westlessness had already been raised by Macron as NATO’s brain dead, adding that Americans reacted negatively to the project because of their point of view that Europeans want to say that Trump’s rise has caused the situation and that the ruling clique in the White House does not want to admit it. They want to tell the Europeans that by the way, we have come to realize that you are abusers and we want to bring the rules into place and this decision has disturbed you! So the West has not weakened and we are the same power we used to be, but you need to spend more resources and coordinate some of your considerations with America!

But as to why Americans want such coordination it should also be borne in mind that undermining Western values ​​is also tantamount to weakening America, Izadi said. They want to say we make decisions based on our interests and you have to respect that. While Americans believe that Europeans are exaggerating somehow.

Europe Concerned about EU Weight Loss

Stressing that Brexit would reduce the weight of the European Union, the analyst said: It was always said about EU that if France was a political pillar and Germany an economic pillar of the European Union, Britain was its security pillar. They believe that UK withdrawal from the Union will not only weaken the role of Europe but will add to the transatlantic weight, meaning that the British will no longer have the former adherence to European standards, but rather align with the United States. The Europeans are worried that the US and the UK will leave Europe alone more than ever; therefore, what the Europeans are predicting is not irrelevant and irrational.

He also commented on the French President’s remarks about the failure of European defence policy towards Russia and the desire to get closer to Moscow. Despite these statements, Europe’s rapprochement with Russia and China is not at all easy. There are many serious differences between Europe, Russia and China, including differences in geography, history, ideology and approach.

Without doubt, Russia and China are emerging powers, but there are many complications whether they would be able to play the role the United States plays in the world, said Izadi, adding that the EU has always had reservations about the Russians.”

Besides, the Europeans are worried about the monopoly of the Americans on the one hand, and concerned about the emergence of two powers that can undermine America and put Europe in the vacuum of power on the other; so EU is under pressure from both fronts.

Emphasizing that the European Union is powerful because of its alliance, the university professor said: To be merely France or Germany, having nuclear weapons, being permanent members of the UN Security Council and having high GDP standing would not provide the influence and weight required to play a role the international community.

So they believe that the traditional order that can be perpetuated within the status quo and supported by the US, could be role-playing against Russia and China, and if this polarization weakens, it will help them become more powerful and role-playing.

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