by Waseem Shehzad (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 53, No. 3, Shawwal, 1444)
The US-led unipolar world order is dead. Even the Europeans have indicated that they no longer wish to remain America’s vassal states. True, there are nuances in the policies of various European countries based on each one’s peculiar circumstances but there is no mistaking the fact that they want to chalk out a policy independent of US domination. Or, as much as they can push for.
This was most clearly demonstrated by the three-day visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to Beijing (April 5-8) where he was warmly received by his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping. This stood in sharp contrast to the low-key reception accorded to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen who had accompanied Macron on the China visit. Since she was peddling the US narrative, the Chinese gave her the cold shoulder.
Macron’s highly-publicized visit came just days after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was in Beijing huddling with Chinese leaders. No sooner had Macron left, than German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock arrived in the northeast port city of Tianjin on April 13. While her remarks, as quoted by Reuters, were highly critical of China’s role, the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on April 25 extended an invitation to Chinese Premier Li Qiang to visit Berlin for talks. The proposed visit on June 20 is aimed at establishing guidelines for the future of EU-China relations.
Let us, however, return to Macron’s visit and his comments both in Beijing as well as on his return flight home that have ruffled so many feathers in Washington. His comments about the EU maintaining a “strategic autonomy” have caused severe heartburn among Americans.
In interviews he gave to media outlets on his return flight from China, Macron said that Europe cannot blindly follow the United States’ lead and should avoid “getting dragged into crises that are not our own.” This was interpreted by many commentators as referring to Washington’s deliberate provocations to create a crisis with China over Taiwan. Macron went on: “Europeans cannot resolve the crisis in Ukraine; how can we credibly say on Taiwan, ‘watch out, if you do something wrong, we will be there?’”
The US Foreign Policy magazine pointed out: “Though US policymakers may not be ready to hear it, the uncomfortable truth is that Macron is saying out loud what many European partners quietly believe.” This was acknowledgment of the emerging reality but unfortunately this did not sit well with US establishment mouthpieces, even though Foreign Policy magazine is hardly a radical publication.
Macron is known to think aloud. “Being a friend doesn’t mean that you have to be a vassal,” he said on April 12, repeating a remark from his trip that alarmed some European rulers close to Washington. “Just because we’re allies, it doesn’t mean (that) we no longer have the right to think for ourselves.”
Such comments were clearly considered heretic by the likes of the New York Times which expressed “Dismay”, while the Washington Post claimed it caused an “Uproar” among US allies.
The Wall Street Journal resorted to ridicule. “Emmanuel Macron fancies himself a Charles de Gaulle for the 21st century, which includes distancing Europe from the US,” the capitalist mouthpiece said in an editorial. “No one wants a crisis over Taiwan, much less to accelerate one, but preventing one requires a credible deterrent,” the WSJ editorial continued. For “credible deterrent”, read that as joining America’s aggression against China without question.
Across the pond, the British business mouthpiece, the Financial Times did not want to be left behind either. It asserted that Macron’s comments had resulted in “Turmoil” among America’s European allies.
There is little doubt that Britain would like to remain America’s poodle. This is not the case with other European powers who have paid a steep price for US belligerent policy over Ukraine. By provoking Russia into taking drastic action, America has devastated European industries, especially in Germany while Uncle Sam has watched from afar.
True, it has sent more than $100 billion worth of weapons to Ukraine but they have not made a huge difference on the battlefield, notwithstanding the lies western corporate media outlets churn out on a daily basis.
The US forced Europe to not buy Russian gas even though it benefited their industries. To make sure this demand was complied with, the US blew up the joint Russian-German pipeline—Nord Stream, as reported by the American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh. Instead, the US is selling gas to Germany at four times the price the Russians charged. Some friend, some ally.
For Europe, the stakes in the US-engineered crises are very high. Washington pushed them into a corner over Russia. The Europeans are reluctant to fall into another trap over China. They do not wish to sacrifice their business interests with China. Who can blame them?
Here are some figures to consider. In 2022, the EU and China did more than $2.5 billion worth of trade every day. That is almost one trillion dollars per year. Who in their right mind would want to jeopardize such trade when so much of Europe’s well-being depends on it. True, the trade balance is in China’s favour but the Europeans can take comfort in the fact that unlike the US, Beijing does not demand subservience, political or otherwise.
Instead, China, and indeed Russia, have called for a multi-polar world to end US unilateralism in global affairs. The multipolar world order is well on its way to being established while the disastrous US-led unipolar world order is finally being buried, for good, one hopes.