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How can the US Presidential Election result, potentially affect Europe's future How can the US Presidential Election result, potentially affect Europe's future
by Christos Mouzeviris
2020-12-08 11:41:22
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At last we managed to see the end of the US Presidential Election 2020 saga, with Joe Biden finaly securing his victory over Donald Trump. And while many in Europe were highly interested in the outcome, primarily siding with Biden, I was largely uninterested. One reason is of course, that during the past few years, the American electoral campaigns have become similar to a reality show, shameful, catty and spiteful. Plus the fact that I never considered myself an Atlanticist, rather a pro-European.

But do not get me wrong, it is not that I do not appreciate the importance of the outcome, or who will preside over USA and his government's relations with Europe. It is simply that I would ideally prefered a more independent and united Europe, plus a multipolar world. Something that hardcore Atlanticists reject as they view of the utmost importance, the dominance of the Western alliance between North America and Western Europe over other competing regions. In other words, they want to keep the current balance or power and status quo intact, to protect their interests, which are not shared by everyone on the planet.

bid001_400_03However, the European supporters of this long-standing alliance, forget that ultimatelly a US President will promote the affairs of his or her own country first. So no matter who gets elected, Europe will have to adjust to their demands or requests. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel, rushed to congratulate President Elect Joe Biden in early November, stating that Europe is ready to take more responsibility.

Thus, I wonder if the European Atlanticists really comprehend what this means. For some time now, the US-and rightly so, demanded more European military spending under the NATO frame, plus further engagement in it. However, public opinion in most countries, apart in those who are located on the borders of Europe like Greece, were firmly against it. So why are they cheering for Biden? It is clear that he will seek to restore US-EU relations, with a significant focus on their military alliance.

In Ireland where I live, the traditional "underline the Irish roots of the new US President" hype settled once more, as the news of Biden's victory emerged. The President Elect, has Irish ancestry and like many before him, which gave such joy to the country's public. However, although Ireland enjoys so many benefits from US favoritism and investments, I wonder if they will be happy to pick up the tab on further military expenditure, or must countries such as Greece appease the American presure on this matter again. As Ireland and other states like Sweden or Austria are outside NATO, they get all the benefits from the Europe-USA alliance and stability or "protection" that it provides, yet they are managing to escape the obligations. It is brilliant when others have to pay for your security of course.

Still, military expenditure is only one issue that will require reconfiguration after the Trump presidency. The EU-US trade wars, the Paris Agreement, or the Iran Nuclear deal are matters that also must be addressed. During the erratic Trump administration, many achievements that Europe and the US accomplished together, were scrapped. That bewildered European leaders, as they witnessed their most trusted and loyal ally, not only abandoning them on their own, but also turning against them. So understandably, many wished for the normalization of the relations between the two sides. But has anyone questioned what this will mean for the future of Europe?

With previous US governments, Europe was relying on American protection and investements, like a child or adolescent requires constant guidance and provisions from its parents. But I wonder if the Atlanticists ever considered what Europe had to relinquish in order to enter into an agreement with its Atlantic partners, or what our continent had to compromise in order to convince the Americans to pay for its protection. And from whom by the way, or how do American investments and companies, influence social policies in Europe?

Under Trump, we saw a more self-centered US, with slogans like "make America great again". However, we also witnessed the polarization of the American society, as it naturally happens in any attempt to change the course of a country's policies. Never before a US President came under such ridicule, criticism and controversy as Trump did, dividing the US public opinion. But with a good reason too.

While his supporters were happy to see someone from outside their country's establishment ranks leading them, they ignored that Trump is not one of them either. He is a billionaire businessman, who although does not have a considerable political background, it is doubtful if his priorities were to serve the interests of the ordinary Americans. But rather of those elites which he represented, that were different to the ones who ruled the country for so long. In other words, he saw an opportunity and grabbed it, yet the fault lies on the US establishment's lap; if they did not ignore the public's plea or needs for many years, voters would not desperatelly turn away from them.

All the American establishment resulted in doing once it lost, was to ridicule and mock Donald Trump with every opportunity. Naturally this cemented the support of many for him, as themselves were also branded as "biggots". That kind of simplistic stereotypicality is often not working though, as it brings the opposite results. It was in fact unnerving and amusing at the sametime to watch, the daily sinking of the US politics into a farce and comedy. And Trump was basking in the attention he was receiving.

One had only to follow him on Twitter, to realize that we are not dealing with a politician. Sometimes I wonder if his son, or some teenager was posting the tweets, yet that made him more appealing to some US voters. That daily dose of direct communication from their President without the political jargon, false promises or academic grandiose, is perhaps what they seek or need. Trump is not the idiot that the American elites portray him to be. He is a self-serving and self-centered narcissist yes, but underestimating him and his supporters is what brought him into power; almost twice.

It is clear now that the USA and the Biden administration, need to keep the lessons that they hopefully learned for the past four years. They will have to try and mend their country, which means that most likely, some of Trump's legacy will have to linger, in order to appease his voters and unite the American society. Something that of course Europe must take into account too, if they expect an instant and absolute U-turn in EU-US relations.

Understandably, the European elites are wishing for a quick return to "business as usual". In some matters like climate and the Iran deal it is indeed crucial and necessary. Not just Europe but the world needs a more engaged and compliant USA in those issues, since they are imperative for humanity's future and the stability in the Middle East. However there are other topics involved. Europe often expects America's cooperation and support when dealing with China or Russia, and vice versa. Something that in certain cases does more harm than good.

By constantly trying to keep Russian interests out of Europe and the country subordinate to Western affairs, we are pushing them right to the arms of China, thus strengthening our "opponents" instead of weakening them. For that reason, Vladimir Putin's government was favoring Trump, as Biden represents the establishment and they are not too keen on Russia's influence in our continent. Trump was an outsider, a businessman that cares little for decades old politics and status. He just wanted to make sure that his supporters were happy, while his partners had their financial interests served. Something that was suitable for Russian attempts to expand theirs further to the West and elsewhere.

As for China, the Atlanticists believe that a US-EU alliance, has better chances in standing firm against the increasing Chinese assertiveness, and force them to back down. You see, the battle is purely based on our elites' interests, or who will maintain the lion's share in everything; energy, trade and resources. Until recently, the West monopolised most of the forementioned, so understandably it doesn't want to lose its priviledges with no fight or negotiations.

However, it was the Western expansion with its political and financial ideologies prevailing, that triggered globalization, so how can we now be so fearful of the challenges and changes that it brings. When all our industries were escaping to China to benefit from the country's cheaper labour, we still refrained from protectionism as it would clash with what we were preaching at the time; open and globalized economy, free market etc. The benefits would apparently "trickle down" to the rest of us and we would all enjoy affordable goods, "made in China".

The same practice continues to this day, with other emerging economies entering the competition for wealth and resources. As they should really, because the more they remain poor and the world unequal, we will have to constantly be dealing with refugees, migration, conflict, poverty and instability around the globe. However, can we treat all of them the same way we do China and Russia in the future? Can we afford to engage in never-ending conflict with every country or block, which wishes to challenge Western hegemony and compete with it and at what cost?

Instead of let's say a US-China "trade war" in which Europe must take sides, and hopefully it does not develop into a real military confrontation, we could maintain the bilateral agreements with numerous parties, that we have in place now. Plus, rather of a costly discord,we could all just invest those billions that could be potentially lost, into developing new industries, greener or otherwise. This in contrast to lets say, allowing them to leave for countries with cheaper workforce, offer them insentives to stay and develop in Europe.

If we resolve in siding with the US in an effort to secure their dominance around the globe, hoping for a favorable treatment, we could end up carrying the can for any failure that may ensure and find ourselves engaging in conflicts that offer us little benefits. In addition, if we are forced to sit down and negotiate with any other party as result of such "wars", with lets-say China or whoever else, we may have to compromise or sacrifice a lot in order to get what we want. Or more accurately what America wants. And we have already done so, to entice US companies to invest in Europe.

To achieve American investments, European governments had often to completely reform their societies, sacrificing social security and worker's rights. If we end up doing the same with China, which of their demands we will have to adopt? It could be wiser to start investing money in Europe, instead of saving banks and repeatedly requiring to attract investments from others, while we side with one party solely, which it has proven to have doubts on their future position in the world and its relationship with Europe. As someone else has already stated, Trump may have gone, but "Trumpism" could be here to stay, at least for a while. So where does this leave the future EU-US relations?

No matter how long-standing our relationship is, we should not be returning to what we had previously. If the US wants more responsibilities from our part, then Europe should grant them this wish and finally grow up; initially militarily, which will translate politically too. If we do not rely on others for our "protection", then we can have a more independent foreign policy, that sometimes could be close and adjacent to that of America, in other occasions not so much. For too long we looked to the US to fix our own problems, because we do not trust other EU members, thus becoming their subordinate.

So in this matter, the Biden administration may not prove to be what everyone expects in Europe. Instead of blowing our horns out of joy, we should wait to see what it may unfold. Trump may have left us alone, but this is not necessary all bad. We should have grasped the opportunity to forge ahead towards our own future, instead of waiting for America's decision on their internal affairs or future path, while we are unable to agree on our own unanimously.

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