01 April 2019

The transatlantic relation, indisputable condition for the European security

Sergiu Medar

Image source: Mediafax

The transatlantic relation was, for years, through NATO, the essence of European security. Together with the North Atlantic Alliance, an ascending positive evolution had the economic relations, mostly the political ones. Both parts were supporting these as principles of the global order, global and multilateral relations. When Donald Trump won the US elections, he introduced the America First principle as internal and international state policy. He brought the US to unilateralism, meanwhile Europe is still governed by multilateralism. These principles contradictions have raised disputes across the relations between both contingents on a political, but also economical plan and, less, on security, where the current solution, which is NATO, is not contested as essence, but as funding method only.

The transatlantic relation was, since 1949 till today, the European security’s engine and guarantee of the European security. Actually, it is the exact purpose NATO was created for, which is the vision, as well as the concrete method, to apply the collective defence principle of the member states. The North Atlantic Alliance was, for years, the collator of the European states.

Until the fall of Berlin’s Wall, alliance’s main enemy, which was connecting the security interests of the western states, was the Soviet Union. After 1989, it seems that the common enemy was gone. It was Western’s time marked by naiveness in regard of the relation with Russia, the successor of URSS. A simple example to that end was the elaboration of the new NATO strategic concept, from 2010, for the 2010-2020 period. Without counting the hostile signals coming from Russia, through its anti-US attitude, for the first time, through Vladimir Putin’s speech held at the Security Conference from Munchen, from 2007, the West, by underlining its will to cooperate with Russia, was hoping for “mutuality” coming from this state. But, mutuality did not come, and Russia showed its imperial historic attitude, whose inhibition created strong frustrations for the political elites from Kremlin, for almost two decades, aiming, consequently, at extending its political and security influence zone over the entire Europe. To this objective are subjected a  series of diplomatic and/or propaganda actions, the latter being a concrete one: the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, whose strategic objective is the intensification of central and west-European states’ dependency on the Russian gas.

Across a speech he delivered at the CSI states Summit, from May 2012, Vladimir Putin was revealing, within the creation of the Euro-Asian Union, his will in regard of Russia regaining the global power status: “…I would like to see a stability arch from Atlantic to Pacific”, of course, under Russian protectorate. This seems to have been the expression of his geostrategic ambition regarding Europe. All the ulterior evolutions seem to have followed the materialization of this objective.

Russia’s most important obstacles in reaching this goal are: the Trans-Atlantic relation and Center and Eastern European states, wherefore this relation is the center of their foreign and security policy. Threatening the NATO space from the outside is basically impossible and this is why the most effective solution is undermining, from the inside, the cohesion of a mechanism which has worked, successfully, for nearly 70 years. The methods of the hybrid war are allowing, now, the most effective aggression actions against the trust between states on both Atlantic’s rims.

With the presidential elections from 2016, at the US leadership comes the Trump Administration. This is the moment the Trans-Atlantic security relation, which has deep economic roots, is starting to be dominated by an inconsistent rhetoric which created a distrust environment from both parts. Starting from the transactional approach specific to his personality, the White House leader was stating that the US does not want to finance NATO’s states security anymore against threats coming from those wherewith the threatened states are making business. Here, Trump was talking about Germany and its relations with Russia, officially stated by NATO as the main threat against the European security.

The US has introduced, across the international relations, new principles which are in line with the well-known catchphrase “America First”. This vision, and mostly its consequences, have dramatically affected Europe which fails in finding a method to communicate with the Trump administration. The climatic changes, multilateralism, as principle of the international relations, the relations with China, the increase of taxes in trade relations with Europe and China as well, the fight against terrorism, the relations with Iran, the decision to pull the American troops out from Syria, the withdrawal from the INF Treaty on short and intermediate range of action missiles are just some of the situations with major disputes between Europe and Trump’s Administration. Moreover, the White House leader has made an awful statement saying that Europe is a source of intelligence threats against the US as well. Getting that out of context, the European media has underlined that Trump thinks that Europe is a threat for US’s security and has rolled this information around so much that the White House had to deny it.

With the withdrawal of Great Britain from the European Union, this organization has become, as many analysts are calling it, a French-German business. Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron are Europe’s voices in the Trans-Atlantic relation. Germany’s chancellor was actually saying that Europe can no longer count on the United States and that it “must take destiny in its own hands”.

The Security Conference from Munchen, February 2019, revealed the breach created in the Trans-Atlantic relation even more. Leaving the diplomatic method of pointing out the breaches between Europe and the Trump administration aside, the representatives of both parts have highlighted, undoubtedly, the disputes’ elements. Furthermore, Angela Merkel has ironically pointed out that, actually, Trump “thinks that the greatest BMW factory in the world, from South Carolina, is a threat against US’s national security”.

Thanks to the statements above, with references from both sides, the anti-American feeling is increasing in Europe. In a study made by Pew Research Center Global Attitudes Survey, it is mentioned that only 14% of the French trust the American leadership, an almost equal percentage with the one from the time George Bush jr. was president of the US. Karl Kaiser, an analyst for the Germany-US relations, was stating that “Two years of Mr. Trump, and French and Germans now trust Russia and China more than the United States”, which should be a negative sign for the current republican administration’s unilateralism.

This European state’s attitude is not ignored by Russia, which is willing to intensify the current tendency in the US relations even more, in order to reach its strategic objective, which is to divide Europe. This is why, one could say the difficulties in the Trans-Atlantic relation’s evolution have internal, as well as external causes and these are the reason of the correlation between the internal and external actors. This correlation may be possible between Russia and the anti-system movements throughout Europe. An example speculated by the media is the funding of the National Front, from France, or the magnitude of fake news across social media. These were effective propaganda methods in making Brexit happen, the division of Catalonia or the interference across the anti-American attitude among the Europeans. The simple fact that during the world football championship from Russia, in the summer of 2012, there was no violence on the streets, which is unusual for this kind of manifestations, could be a hint for the identification of the brain coordinating the anti-system violent movements.

Russia’s interference in the electoral processes on both Atlantic’s rims aims at bringing the anti-system representatives on the first plan, who could modify states’ policies so that to cultivate radical nationalism and to antagonize states one against the other. Unfortunately, this only increases the number of European citizens who are strengthening their beliefs accordingly with these messages.

Russia’s imperial attitude is a threat for Eastern Europe, which belongs to the old continent as much as the central and West European states. The Russian revisionism can reach all these states. It must not be ignored that, this year, the parliamentary or presidential elections will take place in almost all East European states and it is expected to be raised a wave of anti-system, anti-European, anti-American messages, to eliminate any reconstruction tendency of the Trans-Atlantic relation.

At the Security Conference from Munchen, seeing the perspective differences between Europeans and Americans, Serghei Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister, was mentioning, somehow happy about it, that “we see that there are new fractions created, meanwhile the old ones are getting deeper”.

At the same event, it could have been noticed a clear difference between the US representatives, members of Trump’s Administration and the members of the US Congress, some of them being exactly members of the Republican Party. From Joe Biden’s speech, former US vice-president in Obama’s democratic administration and possible candidate for the US presidency for the democrats, as well as Mrs. Nancy Pelosi’s speech, the leader of the democrats congressmen and speaker of the Representatives Chamber, it came out that the Trump Administration’s position does not always match the US position as well in the relations with Europe. Joe Biden has mentioned, firmly, that at the US leadership it will come the democratic administration and then the relation will come back to normal.

After a series of Trump’s confused messages on the possible US withdrawal from NATO, the Representatives Chamber from the US Congress, under Nancy Pelosi’s leadership, has introduced the H.R. 676 NATO Support Act, a law on the support the US offers to the Trans-Atlantic Alliance, stating that such a decision coming from the US administration cannot be made without the US Congress approval. “I don’t think that there’s any difference between Democrats and Republicans on our relationship with NATO. This is not partisan in any way”, said Pelosi. Another example is the threat of the White House leaders on giving up the INF treaty regarding short or intermediate range of actions missiles. On 16th of February, the democrat representative, Tulsi Gabbard, has introduced in the US Congress a support legislation for the INF treaty. As a response to these US positions, on 4th of March 2019, Putin has officially signed Russia’s withdrawal documents from the treaty.

These contradictory positions across the Trump Administration and the blockage of some decisions by the US Congress are not but making even more difficult to find some solutions for the consolidation of the Trans-Atlantic relation.

Four or three years ago, the American analyst George Friedman was questioning if the US president would want to speak to Europe on the phone, who would he call? He was trying to underline that Europe cannot talk to one voice only. This is what it is happening now with the US.

Regardless of the current situation of the Trans-Atlantic relation, regardless of the different positions on the economic, political or security relations, what is important is that on Atlantic’s both rims it is supported the North Atlantic Alliance collective defence principles, which is, during time, but also in the period to come, the main connection bridge between the two continents. This strong security leverage is based on the pillars created by the liberal democracy principles, based also on equality as individual value and freedom as collective value, both active pillars on Atlantic’s rims.