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The European Union is under numerous existential threats. On one hand, there are the internal threats, with the rise to power of the so-called nationalist-populist eurosceptics — which are in reality racist neofascists — in Austria, Hungary, Poland, and to a lesser extent Italy, with the Interior Minister Matteo Salvini being an influential part of the country’s coalition government, as well as the recent gain in political clout of anti-EU far-right parties such as the Rassemblement National of Marine Le Pen, in France. On the other hand, there are the external threats, which used to be diffuse and secretive but are becoming more and more overt, from the Trump administration in the United States through the unofficial operative Steve Bannon, as well as, to a much lesser extent, Russia, perhaps China, and also, for some odd reason, even Iran’s Islamic Republic on monetary issues. Go figure. It seems that a downgrade, or even dismantlement, of the EU as a geopolitical major player suits the needs of other leading world powers. There is a cautionary tale here for all Europeans, especially those like the Gilets Jaunes who reject the Europe of bankers and technocrats. It is a geopolitical cautionary tale about reforming what you have and not jumping to conclusions and doing a tabula rasa of a European Union adventure that is 62 years in the making.
In an era of Cold War redux, the EU is a geopolitical imperative
The birth of the EU was in 1957. It was signed into existence in the Treaty of Rome by the six founding members: Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Italy, Luxembourg and West Germany. Naturally, this must be understood in the context of a post-Yalta world, which effectively started the split of world affairs and influences between the two empires born out of the ashes of World War II: the United States of America, of course, and the USSR, which have agreed to disagree on ideologies, but have come to a tacit understanding about their spheres of influence. The constant conflicts between the two blocks have manifested themselves through various proxy wars, always at the expense of third parties. From a military standpoint, the US came up with NATO in 1949, using the fear of the supposed Soviet threat to subjugate its European so-called allies, which became not much more than vassals. Behind the legendary Iron Curtain, Stalin’s USSR had the Warsaw Pact.
Since the Ukrainian crisis, five years ago, we have reentered a Cold War logic, and again Russia is painted by Western mainstream media as the biggest threat to the supposed free world — whatever this means in the propagandist lexicon — and Vladimir Putin as the ultimate bogeyman head of state. At the time of the treaty of Rome, it took some courage for the six founding members to take this initiative, considering that all of them had US troops de facto occupying their respective countries. This very timid start in the mid-1950s was followed by attempts to make the EU, not only an economic union but a political force.
Let us fast forward to the current legal framework of the EU: the Treaty of Lisbon, still in force today, which is an amendment of the Maastricht Treaty of 1993. The Treaty of Lisbon was signed in Portugal on December 13, 2007; however, it took two years to be ratified by all EU members, and it became a legally binding agreement for all members on December 1, 2009. It is the current cornerstone of the EU’s political framework. In this treaty, which of course, BREXIT has put to a serious test, Article 50 established the provision that “Any member state may decide to withdraw from the union in accordance with its own constitutional requirement.” In the case of BREXIT, this was after an exit of the EU was voted on by British citizens, and this narrowly won a referendum.
In the case of the BREXIT win, which could turn out to be disastrous for the welfare of British people, and even the influence of the former British Empire, it was not the immensely and famously nefarious hand of Vladimir Putin that was involved, as claimed by many in the UK, but actually the hand of Steve Bannon, through the shady firm, Cambridge Analytica, using the vast assets of the Mercer hedge fund. This hedge fund is the financial entity that powers Alt-Right sites such as Breitbart and many others. This being said, to be fair, Mercer’s nemesis George Soros, for his part, invested heavily in the No-BREXIT vote. Where there foreign influences in the BREXIT vote? Yes, but it was a Robert Mercer vs George Soros confrontation that involved two conflicting visions of globalization, each one as toxic as the other. But Bannon, Mercer and Co.’s instrument, who is now operating in Europe to trigger similar scenarios, such as FREXIT for France, is in reality working for the neocon US world domination program, which is the so-called Project for the New American Century.
In a better-known fight between financial puppet masters, it was Bob Mercer’s cash and Steve Bannon’s media savvy that arguably elected Donald Trump US president in 2016, against a Clinton campaign that was partially financed by the billionaire George Soros. In both cases, Soros lost. Regardless of the pseudo-ideological bickering, and Bob Mercer phony libertarian views, US imperialism is still the hallmark of US foreign policy, just as it has been since 1945. Allies are truly vassals, and States that attempt to be independent are not fair competitors but enemies. A politically strong European Union, with its own military, independently of NATO, would be a perceived threat to the American Empire.
The neocon United States of Trumpism: Main enemy of the EU
A recent event in Washington went almost unnoticed by European observers, although it was symbolically of great importance. The Trump administration decided to downgrade the status of the European Union’s official foreign representation from an embassy to mere delegation with an office. This is an important illustration of the current US administration’s view of the EU as being something cumbersome and redundant in its foreign policy lexicon and agenda. This stand of Trumpism, really controlled by the neocon John Bolton, is reminiscent of what another neocon, this time Donald Rumsfeld, called, in the build up to George W. Bush’s 2003 Iraq war, the Old Europe. A more compliant New Europe was wanted, as opposed to the not-so-subservient Old Europe, personified by then French President Jacques Chirac, who was unwilling to join the folly of Iraq’s invasion. France was not then part of NATO.
Let’s face it. The neocons are fully in charge of Trump’s foreign policy and are pursuing more than ever their agenda. Their goal is uncontested US world domination by any means necessary: political, economic through various sanctions on whatever countries they define as enemy states, and of course, in cases of last resort, through the armed fist of US imperialism, which is NATO. Those are the US policy imperatives defined almost a quarter century ago in the neocons’ bible and opus: The Project for the New American Century. Rain or shine, the neocons still control the US foreign policy agenda.
Instead of imploding the EU, Europeans should exit NATO
What the demagogues of the European far-Right in Italy, Hungary, Austria, and Poland, as well as neoliberal governments in Germany, Spain, and the UK are not telling their populations while they posture about nationalism, is the simple fact that their countries are actually occupied by US troops. In the case of Poland, they are even eager to host more American occupiers. The unapologetic ultra neocon deep-pocketed think tank, The Heritage Foundation, which is providing a lot of top-position appointees to the Trump administration, gloats about the US empire’s military strength in Europe, and of course frames the narrative in terms of deterrent against semi-fictional potential Russian aggressions.
Today, 74 years after the end of World War II, the number of US troops stationed in the European Union is absolutely staggering. About 65,000 active US troops are deployed in Europe, in around 17 main operating bases mainly in Germany, Italy (Mr. Salvini, how about Italian sovereignty?), the United Kingdom and Spain. Deployments are in the works in Poland as well, at the request of the far-Right government. The Gilets Jaunes and some European politicians are correct: the respective EU nations should break free from their servitude to giant multinational corporations, financial institutions like the IMF and the World Bank, as well as nefarious state players such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. But the real masters are not in Bruxelles, they are somewhere in the United States, around Washington DC, shuffling between the Pentagon, the White House, the CIA and of course Wall Street.
Despite the claims of the US administrations, either Democrat or Republican, and their allies/vassals in Europe and Canada, NATO’s wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syriawere not necessarily meant to be won on the battlefield, but rather to become a semi-permanent occupation of various countries mainly for the exploitation of natural resources. This first-wreck-then-exploit strategy has been especially applied in the Middle East by toppling Saddam Hussein and Qaddafi. In both Iraq and Libya, two failed states were, either on purpose or by default, engineered by NATO. Because of Russia, Hezbollah, and Iran, the same plan, with the minute variation of using ISIS as a proxy, didn’t work at all against Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
Afghanistan has been called the graveyard of empires: rightly so in the cases of Alexander the Great, the British Empire and the Soviets. NATO, and especially Europeans should have known better than to venture into such a dangerous land as invaders. However, America Empire Inc. and its financial, economical and military might thought that they could break the will of the Pashtuns. They didn’t.
The European Union must become for the people by the people
In December 2010, I was, to my knowledge, the first analyst to forecast the collapse of the current dominant global empire. The out-of-control madness of Trumpism might be providing a helping hand in that process. Perhaps a redefined European Union, for the people by people, following the impulse of the Gilets Jaunes movement leading the way, will help us to free ourselves from the shackles of a globalization that only serves to profit a minute portion of the population worldwide. The European Union can be built upon rather than destroyed, and perhaps, once it finally stops serving as the little helper of corporate imperialism, it could become an inspiration of real conviviality for other continents, a truly multi-ethnic and multi-cultural association of people, more than States, which departs from the dead end that is our global capitalist system.
Editor’s Notes: Gilbert Mercier is the author of The Orwellian Empire. Photographs one by Theophilos Papadopoulos, two by Looking for Poetry, five by Gage Skidmore; six by Ian Glover, seven by Jason, eight from the archives of Resolute Support Media, nine from the archives of NATO, eleven by Radiowood; and composites ten and twelve byJared Rodriguez.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.