by Tahir Mahmoud (Special Reports, Crescent International Vol. 48, No. 2, Rajab, 1440)
With all the shortcomings of the EU, the Western part of the European continent is the most successful socio-political project that has prevented war among these powers since the end of the Second World War. Of course, the wars have been exported elsewhere: Africa, Latin America, and the Muslim East. Once Washington subverted the EU into a military/security project following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the EU lost its original orientation. The US began utilizing European institutions to mask NATO’s expansion toward the Russian border. The EU’s approval of this US policy created major headaches for the alliance, as witnessed in Ukraine.
Today, the EU is a declining mega project. The presence of the camouflaged fascists on the European political scene was always a norm, but it is a new political reality of having these forces run government institutions in various European countries. On its own, even this would not be such a tragedy. The worrying factor is that when the Western secular civilization malfunctions, it turns into utter barbarity and extremism.
It is the Western secular system (US) that utilized a nuclear weapon and it is Western secular governing systems that back the most brutal dictators worldwide. There were two world wars; both were “gifted” to humanity by Western European powers. Trouble among Western European imperialists was never civil and always destabilized the rest of the world. The problem now is that the European continent is in economic distress. Even this would not be so problematic were it not ruled by regressive forces as the ones in power in Austria, Hungry, Italy, and Britain, combined with the intellectual and spiritual crises of the European ruling classes.
The rise of the alt-right forces to power is a symptom of the EU’s eroding confidence in being able to project global influence and create soft-power appeal. As secular liberalism’s philosophical inconsistencies are beginning to manifest themselves politically in the form of Brexit and the Yellow Vests movement, the EU brand is no longer as appealing as it used to be. The system is marginalizing itself using nationalism and state sovereignty as a copout.
As this continues, differences between European powers themselves will continue to grow. Why? One of nationalism’s intellectual flaws is that it must cultivate conflicts with other nations to thrive, preferably the ones with whom borders are shared. As nationalism continues to assume a virulent form in Europe, it is natural to see the European regimes begin to cannibalize themselves.
Now that the EU is experiencing major economic problems combined with political and ideological ones, it is a deadly cocktail for a system with barbaric historical precedents as Europe. The red flags of Europe relapsing to pre-EU internal strife are everywhere. On February 6, France warned Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio not to interfere in France’s internal politics, after he met French “Yellow Vest” protesters. On the same day, France recalled its ambassador from Italy. This is one of the major post-WWII spats among European imperialist regimes.
With this in mind, it is important to remember that EU’s ethnic minority politics, purposefully directed toward assimilating ethnic minorities rather than integrating them is another deadly mixture to the currently developing crisis in the EU. Historically, Europe has tried to prevent internal strife by directing fire toward the “other.” At one point it was Africa, then Jews and now it is Muslims.
Contemporary secular European/Western civilization is highly materialistic and defines success primarily within the materialistic paradigm. Thus, EU policymakers will opt for all sorts of Machiavellian tricks to save the mega-political project as the Western world continues to spiral downward economically. Since the technocratic leadership of the EU has not shown the intellectual ability to tackle its myriad problems, looking for econometric solutions with no alteration of EU’s philosophy and intellectual foundations will always be a short-term solution.
On the positive note for Europeans, Donald Trump’s presidency provides a unique opportunity for the EU to distance itself from the US and formulate an independent economic, social, and foreign policy not tied to Washington’s neoliberal vision for humanity. Currently this possibility seems bleak.
Considering the EU’s lukewarm actions to maintain the nuclear agreement (aka JCPOA) with Islamic Iran, its inability to properly deal with the legitimate Yellow Vests movement and its bandwagoning with the US to topple the elected president of Venezuela, the EU is proving resistant to reforming itself.
The chances of the EU completely unraveling are increasing. However, because its collapse most probably would mean some sort of war on the continent, all parties involved will attempt to extend the lifespan of the alliance. This might change if the US — the empire in decline — pushes the EU to further irritate Russia in the regions of the former Soviet Union.
Should that happen, Moscow can easily activate its leverage in the Balkans and Ukraine to destabilize the EU on several fronts. At the moment, as before, Moscow is highly interested to keep its most profitable petrochemical market as stable as possible.
Judging from the armies of expat workers from Western countries in the Muslim East, Southeast Asia and other parts of the developing world, the EU’s demise might come not from minorities, Russia, or China, but from the growing inequality gap among its own citizens. As wisely summarized by Hafsa Kara for the American Herald Tribune in December 2018, “this is a major protest that whatever direction it takes will have a long-lasting effect on the establishment and its sense of impunity. With their bright yellow vest and their frank discourse French protesters have shown that ultimately it is about power to the people by the people.” It appears the French ruling establishment is not willing to recognize the reality articulated in the American Herald Tribune.
The EU political establishment’s reaction toward the Yellow Vest movement partly resembles the shocked reaction of America’s political elite to the selection of Donald Trump as president. Just as Trump’s presidency is a symptom of Washington’s imperial decline, the misreading of the Yellow Vest protests by the EU’s elite is a sign of its potential decline. Its biggest symptom yet, is the open political spat between Italy and France.