The Fracturing of Europe

As Old Europe slides towards a major economic downturn, and protests mount​,​ the EU may have little or no agency in any final outcome. That will either be determined by Moscow​,​ or agreed by Moscow and Washington, all because the EU allowed the Russophobic zealots to guide them on policy.

The Middle East will soon face a fractured Europe — imposing new dilemmas for the region, on top of it having to navigate Beltway Foreign Policy constituencies slugging it out in Washington for primacy over Russia policy.

In the US, it is a three-way contest: Extreme ‘hawks’ such as Senator Graham vs the Realist camp ​– ​with Dr. Kissinger somewhere in between.

In Europe, the fractures are there, too. But are structurally different.

To understand the European fracture, we have to return to the Bucharest NATO Conference of 2008. This was the infamous event at which NATO’s door was opened to Ukraine and Georgia joining.

The point here is: This​ was the moment at which the ‘western EU’ abdicated EU foreign policy dominance over Eurasia to ‘eastern EU’ ​(allowing the eastern ‘Russophobes’ to ‘wag the whole EU dog’). The EU power structure shifted, firstly under pressure from Madeleine Albright’s ‘Central Europeanism’,​ and incrementally thereafter with the State Department’s manipulation of the EU Russophobic bloc and its allies in the German Green Party and the ​Commission.

There is little sign that the western bloc can recoup their leadership from Ukraine war ‘maximalists’ any time soon, for several reasons.​ ​First, western EU leaders retrospectively have said (i.e. Merkel in the Zeit interview) that they opposed the Bucharest Declaration. Yet they stayed SILENT in their opposition​,​ faced by the growing radicalism issuing forth from the Ukraine ‘maximalists’. The western domestic audience increasingly understands this strategic error.

In other words, the EU big players ‘sat on their hands’ first when the Bucharest Declaration was made​,​ and again when President Poroshenko and the EU maximalists pressed for the Minsk Accord to be treated as deceit, in which its provisions would be explicitly ignored, in favour of the stealth ‘NATOisation’ and NATO training and re-equipping of the Ukrainian military​ — w​ith the explicit intent to strengthen Ukraine before the next round of military confrontation in Donbas.

This silent lacuna turned toxic for the western ‘bloc’ because it made the EU hostage to the lie that Ukraine is a unitary state, whose natural ambition for sovereignty (such as becoming an EU or NATO member) is being cruelly suppressed by Russia.

Sticking with this Washington ‘line’, simply effaced the reality of ​the Ukraine​ conflict, removed it from consideration​,​ and substituted a fantasy.

Ukraine is a hotchpot nation ​–​ one put together in different eras, and over varying landmass ​–​ of peoples who despise each other’s account of history. ​The sides refuse equally to tolerate each other’s vision for the future​,​ and have differing linguistic, cultural and ethnic roots. ‘Ukrainians’ have been in ‘hot’ civil war since at least 1941.

​In this respect, ​Ukraine is as complicated as Ireland.​ ​And on personal experience​,​ I affirm there is no ‘silver bullet’ solution to Ireland​ any more than there is one for Ukraine.

Put plainly, the western EU bloc yet again ‘sat on their collective hands as the Victoria Ne​u​land narrative spooled out,​ leaving ‘leaders’ such as Macron and Scholz to spout ceasefire platitudes and stay SILENT over the reality that something serious like the Minsk concepts was precisely the way to address a complex issue of adversarial blocs embedded within the state.

Instead, the western ‘bloc’ opted for superficial soundbites about full Russian withdrawal.

Can these EU leaders not understand (if only from the Ireland experience) the visceral hatred and retribution that would ensue from their ceasefire naïvety? (Westerners who live in stable, reasonably prosperous societies often find it hard to assimilate the deep-seated hatreds that swirl in such conflicted societies. In Ireland, memories of injustices from hundreds of years ago are felt as if they occurred,​​ but yesterday).

Why will this fracture the EU? Well, the EU already has serious faultlines​ –the biggest being that of the Euro currency ‘construct’ which locked into place one undervalued ‘playing field’ for the ‘frugal’ northerners​ (​who are zealots for austere economics​),​ and another overvalued currency ‘field’ for the ‘profligate’ southerners that resulted in their industries being poached from the north.

Both narratives are glib​, b​ut they underlie the ​n​orth-​s​outh economic divide, and to a limited extent​,​ coincide with the ​traditionalist vs post-modern ‘wokery’ fault line.

But this new fault line​ –​ the radical Ukraine maximalists vs Old Europe ​– ​will both eclipse and displace these old divisions​.​

Simply put​,​ the Ukraine radicals (egged on by Blinken et al) have tied the EU to a policy of steady mission-creep toward military escalation ​–​ an escalation for ‘as long as it takes’ ​–​ which on present prospects may prove to be longer than Old Europe, and its leaders can politically survive in the upcoming recession. No wonder they flail impotently.

That policy ‘line’ translates to ‘forever sanctions’ on Russia; a war in Europe with the latency to widen dangerously​;​ and to subsequent mammoth EU financial contributions for Ukraine ​–​ stretching into an indefinite future.

Here is the key: the eastern states can luxuriate in their radicalism toward Russia​, ​whilst Old Europe ‘goes to hell in a handcart’ economically.  With its financial solvency increasingly questioned​ and​ its credit system scrutinised as never before​,​ old Europe is becoming the ‘sick man of Europe’, rather than its blue check ‘sugar daddy’.

The optimistic view in Brussels is that, “despite its lack of legitimate envoys and military weakness, the EU will carry considerable weight in any negotiations because it is the economic powerhouse that will pay for Ukraine’s reconstruction and be the arbiter of any process by which Ukraine joins the EU single market, customs union, or even the EU itself.”

Is such optimism justified? No. For starters, it is contingent on predicates which are far from assured. Will there be a clear-cut outcome? Ukraine’s power system wobbles on the edge of structural collapse. Ukraine’s economy is on the edge​,​ and the ability of Kiev to funnel more Ukrainian military forces into Bakhmut to sustain positions there is ‘on the edge’, too.

Everything connected with the conflict is at the edge. Maybe Russia will choose to let Ukraine ‘stew’ ​at​ the edge for a while until​, ​possibl​y​ its machinery of war grinds to a standstill, as the flywheels stop turning and fall silent.

Pay?  For sure, the EU will​ –​ heavily!  However as Old Europe slides towards a major economic downturn, and protests mount​,​ the EU may have little or no agency in any final outcome. That will be either be determined by Moscow​,​ or agreed by Moscow and Washington. There is absolutely no European leader with the weight to impress both Moscow and Washington, jointly.

Yet, the EU leadership class resides in its Panglossian fantasy as to its own importance in affairs. Dmitry Medvedev wrote Sunday that​, ​for Russia, there will be no restoration of normal relations with the West for years or even decades to come: “From now on we will do without them until a new generation of sensible politicians comes to power there​.”

So, how serious is this division? Put it this way: An influential number of EU members – backed by Washington – wants to grind Russia’s military into dust. This EU constituency is cocky and is relishing wielding a primacy within Brussels, which carries a Washington imprimatur.

A despairing Old Europe, by contrast, sees that it cannot radically change course, without a major blow-up in the Union, threatening its integrity. But were it to continue silently to ‘sit on its hands’​,​ it will sit and watch as the industrial heartland of Old Europe becomes a desert – and observe that it is their political futures that are being ‘ground into dust’ by the Ukrainian zealots.

The EU stands at ​the edge, too.

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