Europe must move towards Russia

Wednesday September 30 2020



By Jonathan Power

If Donald Trump wins re-election as president is Europe going to bellyache about him for another four years without, as now, having any firm, cohesive, strategy for dealing with him and his foreign policies?

There is a chance that Trump will surprise the political establishment, as he did last time, and win. Europe can’t continue with its wing and a prayer approach, hoping that his perniciously volatile policies will be terminated in the very near future. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t.

Mainstream commentators say Europe has nowhere else to go. It has to accommodate itself to US interests, even if means putting its telescope to its blind eye. It has to go along with piling economic sanctions upon sanctions against Russia. It doesn’t complain too much that Trump refuses to negotiate a diminution of the threat posed by Russia and the US having too many nuclear weapons. Trump has abrogated past key treaties on limiting nuclear arms, but Europe has behaved like a wimp, voicing no loud objections and failing to lead an opposition that could be fashioned among nearly all UN members. Europe, too, goes along with the expansion of Nato up to Russia’s borders, threatening Russia, breaking assurances not to expand Nato given by the US, Germany and Britain to Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev.

Europe has to get tougher with US policy not just on Russia but on China too, starting with resisting the pressure to disallow Huawei from selling 5G internet technology to European countries. It must also resist becoming part of Trump’s campaign to highlight China’s role in allowing the coronavirus to take off, rather than highlighting that China’s counter-corona policies have resulted today in there being no significant number of deaths among its population of 1.4 billion. Indeed, this amazing success should put China in a position to advise America on how to get rid of the virus.

As well, Europe has to counter America’s propensity to exaggerate the military threat posed by the Chinese occupation of disputed small islands and coral reefs in the East and South Chinese seas. After all in part this occupation is a defensive reaction to the US which for many years has made provocative fly-pasts close to the Chinese coastline. How would Washington feel if Chinese jets flew up and down America’s coast?

Europe has had to accommodate itself, to the US’s role in supplying sophisticated weapons to Saudi Arabia which it uses mercilessly in its vicious war against Yemini rebels. It has rarely if at all questioned US policy in Afghanistan where the longest war in America’s history grinds on. Europe capitulated early on to Trump’s decision to break apart the deal carefully crafted by President Barack Obama to freeze nuclear research in Iran. The talk of the Europeans finding a way round the US sanctions that have significantly undermined the Iranian economy at the expense of the livelihoods of ordinary Iranians has come to nothing. Europeans know that a riled Iran is a threat to peace in the Middle East but nonetheless they have capitulated before the American threat to penalize European companies and banks which do business with Iran.


Europeans have stood aside while Trump has built up the political strength of Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and undermined that of the Palestinians. A two-state solution is now off the table and probably always will be.

There will be no peace in the Middle East with Trump in power. Isn’t this why, for all his talk about no more “never-ending wars”, he maintains the huge presence of 80,000 US military personnel in the Middle East?

Dear reader, don’t shake your head if you are reading this in Paris, Berlin, Madrid or Stockholm as if there is nothing your country or the EU can do. If Trump is re-elected it is going to get worse, perhaps much worse. Something has to be done.

I suggest that Europe takes some steps eastwards, towards Russia and away from the US. Is this outrageous? I don’t think so. The great American political thinker and much respected George Kennan said that the expansion of Nato was the worst political mistake made since the end of the Second World War. He wanted to see a much friendlier relationship with Moscow, and the eventual Russian membership of the European Union.