Vibe Shift: Europe Chooses Irrelevance
Cowardice and the Collapse of European "Strategic Autonomy"
There’s nothing like a war to clear the air and see where people and countries stand.
The current conflict in Ukraine is another example of where warfare does us this valuable service. Ukraine is defending itself from a Russian invasion. Russia, on the other hand, is defending itself from encroaching US Empire that seeks to engage in regime change in Moscow. The Americans? They are engaged in an open proxy war with Russia and will fight it to the proverbial last Ukrainian.
And what about Europe?
European leaders have almost unanimously decided to enthusiastically support the US proxy war in Russia, even if it means economic disaster for themselves.
I struggle to think of a historical precedent where an entire continent decided to purposely self-immolate at the behest of an “erstwhile ally”. Nevertheless, here we are. This is the vibe shift: from European “Strategic Autonomy” to collection of American satrapies that willingly absorb negative economic impact (an impact that is minimal to the USA in relative terms) and happily clap like seals whenever other dictates arrive from the metropole, provided that the “correct” party is in the White House in Washington DC.
The European Union announced a policy objective entitled “Strategic Autonomy” to allow Europe to pursue its own security (and economic) interests while maintaining its close ties (and in most cases, alliance) with the USA. This policy kicked into high gear when Donald Trump became President of the USA and European leaders experienced pressure with respect to issues regarding trade, and American threats to pull out of NATO, most of which was just “shit talk” to pressure European members of the alliance to up their military spending to 2% of GDP.
Receiving its strongest support in France, this policy fell into the tradition of Europe, particularly Western Europe, being very wary of a Republican White House. One need only look back at George W. Bush’s Presidency, where Donald Rumsfeld divided Europe between “Old” and “New”, i.e. West and East, the criteria being that “Old Europe” opposed the War in Iraq, while “New Europe” willingly sent forces to aid in that invasion.
The French have served as the engine of this policy, but they realized early on that any such moves required buy-in from larger European states, primarily Germany. The Germans were happy to go along with it while Trump was in office, but with Biden winning the election in 2020, they fell into the old habit of slavish devotion to the USA, albeit less muted than the embarrassing continuous public fellation given to Barack Obama by German media when he entered the White House. Without German support, European Strategic Autonomy loses an entire leg.
The Americans want to co-opt any tentative moves towards Strategic Autonomy for their own purposes, mainly to use Europe to keep Russia busy while they pivot to Asia to confront China. “Strategic Autonomy? Sure, as long as you do what we say.”, is the natural and logical position of the much stronger Americans. Little wonder why European proponents of the policy view the USA as an “unreliable partner”.