The terms “inertia” and “bureaucracy” go together like potatoes go with beef. It’s a natural pairing. So, it should not be any surprise that policymakers both within the United States and throughout the world fail to grasp the monumental changes occurring in Europe. They continue addressing Europe, as though it were some unified entity. As such, the European Union continues its move toward disunity, NATO continues to weaken, and the rest of the world continues waiting for the EU to save itself, so that everyone can move on. But, this will never happen. Moving on means abandoning any pretense of a united Europe. The country that can do this and deal with European states through direct, bilateral engagements and at the sub-regional level will be the state that capitalizes most on Europe.
Internally, many European states (particularly western European countries) have been deeply influenced by neo-Marxist views since the 1960’s. A sort of identity crisis has set in throughout Europe, negatively impacting everything from the social policies of these states to their foreign policies. This identity crisis has also significantly distorted the immigration policies of Europe. It has also greatly complicated the security policies of Europe. This is to say nothing of how it has negatively impacted the economic conditions of Europe.
These three trends have coalesced and moved Europe away from operating as relatively cohesive bloc on economic or security issues and has relegated such concerns to the national level. Indeed, the rise of nationalism throughout Europe is an example of just how disjointed Europe has become. The slow down in the global economy following the Great Recession of 2008 exacerbated the national divisions within the European Union that had been papered over by the great bureaucracy in Brussels.
Now, the twin factors of the human wave flowing from the Muslim world to the south and the persistent threat of Russian revanchism to the east–as well as the apparent lack of interest in dealing with either of these issues in a cogent way–indicates that Europe is no longer unified. Thus, America should act accordingly.
While the most obvious response on the part of American policymakers would be to wash our hands of the Europeans, disassociate from NATO, and let the pieces on the continent fall as they may, the long-term implications of such a policy would be far costlier than maintaining our contacts with the Europeans. Yet, maintaining our contacts does not mean maintaining the status quo in the U.S.-European relationship. Indeed, if any constructive policy is to be crafted, the U.S.-European relationship will need to evolve.
What follows is a simple list of things that the U.S. must do in order to preserve healthy relations with Europe while at the same time, protecting America’s core interests:
- Recognize that the European Union is a dead bureaucracy simply riding on its own inertia (besides, the EU has, since its inception, been wholly anti-American).
- Repurpose U.S. financial, logistical, and military support away from the centralized core of NATO and into the sub-regional European battle groups, such as the Viségrad Battle Group and the Nordic Battle Group.
- The countries that comprise these two groups are a) the most threatened by Russia and b) the most predisposed to openly resisting Russia. With the removal of Russian forces away from western Europe following the end of the Cold War, countries like France and Germany no longer fear Russian aggression the way that places like Poland and Estonia do.
- The U.S. should encourage the southern and western European states to begin shoring up their national immigration policies and lending assistance to these states in stemming the human wave moving up from the war torn Muslim world into Europe.
- The issue lies in the Mediterranean Sea. Refugees and illegal immigrants looking to gain entry into Europe usually cross the Mediterranean unabated and, if they are fortunate enough to survive the perilous journey, they make it into Europe and simply overrun the under-resourced immigration services in “frontline” states, such as Italy and Greece. Turkey is not helping the situation, as they have at various times over the last few years allowed for groups of people to transit through Turkey into Europe as well.
- The U.S. Navy, the French Navy, and the British Royal Navy are all highly capable forces that could lead the effort in stopping the ceaseless flow of people at the source.
- Stop relying on NATO (but do not categorically end America’s commitment to the organization either).
The concept of a united Europe is dead. America will continue to have a rocky relationship with the continental powers, lest it stop trying to treat Europe as though it were one, cohesive entity. The concerns and interests of the individual EU members (and NATO states) are so dissimilar today that operating in a unified fashion, as a conduit for American power projection into the region, as it was used for in the Cold War, is simply impossible today.
The three threats of Russian irredentism in the east, the unforeseen complications of allowing for unfettered immigration from the Muslim world into Europe, and the related issue of terrorism in southern and western Europe all mean that there is much that America and the Europeans can work together on.
However, the institutional approach of Washington relying on Brussels is an outmoded concept that will be wholly insufficient today. The eastern Europeans worry about Russia and generally shrug at the western and southern Europeans’ cries that they are being invaded by terror-sympathizing immigrants. Concerns over Russia and over lax immigration policies and terrorism are legitimate concerns that affect the U.S. as well. American policymakers must recognize the sub-regional differences and craft policies accordingly. Otherwise, the situation in all of Europe will get worst.
Just remember from hereon out: there is no united Europe anymore.