Any alternative to the current European Union is the grand accommodation of either France or Germany with Russia Representational Photo: Getty Images The recently released International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) World Economic Outlook brings no comforting picture to anyone within the G-7, especially in the United States and European Union — the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Round is dead, trade wars are alive, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is rapidly Pakistanising while Asia’s core and its far east slows down.
No comfort either comes from the newest Oxfam Report — Are 26 billionaires worth more than half the planet — which the ongoing Davos vanity fair, known as the World Economic Forum, (WEF) has been ignoring. The Brexit after-shock is still to reverberate around.
In No Exit , Jean-Paul Sartre’s Garcin famously says: “Hell is other people”. Indeed, business of othering remains lucrative — the NATO 70 summit will desperately look for enemies.
Escalation is the best way to preserve eroded unity, which requires the confrontational nostalgia dictatum. Will the US-pushed cross-Atlantic Free Trade Area (substituting the abandoned Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and compensating for the Sino-US trade war) save the day? Or, would that pact-push drag things over the edge of reinvigorating nationalisms, and mark the end of a unionist Europe?
Is the extended EU conflict with Russia actually the beginning of an Atlantic-Central Europe conflict over Russia, an internalisation of mega geopolitical and geo-economic dilemma — who accommodates with whom, in and out of the post-Brexit union?
Finally, will more Ukrainian (Eastern Europe or Middle East and North Africa) calamities pave the road for a new cross-continental grand accommodation, of either austerity-tired France or über-performing Germany with Russia, therefore marking the end of EU?
The southeast flank is already suffering enormously. Hasty castling of foes and friends caused colossal geopolitical vertigo in Turkey, whose accelerated spin produces more and more victims.
For whose sake has Eastern Europe been barred from all important debates such as that of slavism, identity, social cohesion (disintegrated by the plunder called ‘privatisation’), secularism and antifascism? Why do we suddenly hear that all around Germany-led central Europe neo-Nazism is gaining ground, while only Russia insists on anti-fascism and (pan) slavism?
Before answering that, let us examine what is (the meaning and size of) our Europe? Where, how and – very importantly – when is our Europe?
The letzte Mensch or Übermensch
Is the EU an authentic post-Westphalian conglomerate and the only logical post-Klemens von Metternich concert of different Europes, the world’s last cosmopolitan enjoying its postmodern holiday from history? Is that possibly the lost Atlántida or mythical Arcadia–a Hegelian end of history world?
Should this OZ be a mix of the endemically domesticated Marx-Engels grand utopia and Kennedy’s dream-world “where the weak are safe and the strong are just”?
Or, is it maybe as Charles Kupchan calls it a ‘postmodern imperium’? Something that exhorts its well-off status quo by notoriously exporting its transformative powers of free trade dogma and human rights stigma — a modified continuation of colonial legacy when the European conquerors, with fire and sword, spread commerce, Christianity and civilization overseas — a kind of ‘new Byzantium’, or is it more of a Richard Young’s declining, unreformed and rigid Rome? Is this a post-Hobbesian (yet, not quite a Kantian) world, in which the Letzte Mensch or the last man expelled Übermensch (superior man of the future)?
Does the ‘EU-isation’ of Europe equal to a restoration of the universalistic world of Rome’s Papacy, to the restaging of Roman-Catholic Caliphate? Is this Union a Leonard’s runner of the 21st century, or is it perhaps Kagan’s ‘Venus’ — gloomy and opaque world, warmer but equally distant and unforeseen like Mars?
Is this a supersised Switzerland (ruled by the cacophony of many languages and enveloped in economic egotism of its self-centered people), with the cantons (MS, Council of EU) still far more powerful than the central government (the EU Parliament, Brussels’ Commission, ECJ), while Swiss themselves stubbornly continue to defy any membership.
Is it important to then consider what (and if so, to what extent) Niall Ferguson said: “…the EU lacks a common language, a common postal system, a common soccer team (Britain as well) even a standard electric socket…?”
Henry Kissinger himself was allegedly looking for a phone number of Europe. Baron Ridley portrayed the Union as a Fourth Reich, not only dominated by Germany, but also institutionally Germanised.
Another conservative Briton, Larry Siedentop, remarked, in his Democracy in Europe , that it is actually France that is running the EU ‘show’, in the typical French way — less than accountable bureaucracy that prevents any evolution of the European into the American.
Evolutionary Biology and geopolitics
Regardless of different names and categorisations attached, historical analogies and descriptions used, most scholars would agree upon the very geopolitical definition of the EU — Grand re-approachment of France and Germany after World War II, culminating in the Elysée accords of 1961.
An interpretation of this instrument is rather simple — a bilateral peace treaty achieved through consensus by which Germany accepted a predominant French say in political affairs of EU/Europe, and France — in return — accepted a more dominant German say in economic matters of EU/Europe.
All that tacitly blessed by a perfect balancer — Britain, attempting to conveniently return to its splendid isolation from the continent in the post-WWII years.
Consequently, nearly all scholars would agree that the Franco-German alliance actually represents a geopolitical axis, a backbone of the Union.
However, the inner unionistic equilibrium will be maintained only if the Atlantic-Central Europe skillfully calibrates and balances its own equi-distance from both assertive Russia and the omnipresent US.
Any alternative to the current Union is the grand accommodation of either France or Germany with Russia. This means a return to Europe of the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries — namely, direct confrontations over the continent’s core sectors, perpetual animosities wars and destructions.
Both Russia and the US have demonstrated ability for a skillful and persistent conduct of international affairs, passions and vigorous visions to fight for their agendas. Despite the shifts in political affiliations and drives triggered by the Brexit, migrants, economic performance or generational encompassions, it’s high time for Brussels to live up to its very idea, and to show the same.
Biology and geopolitics share one basic rule — comply or die.
(The author is professor in international law and global political studies, based in Austria. His seventh book ‘From WWI to www. 1918-2018’ is just published by the New York’s Addleton Academic Publishers)
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