European ‘Strategic Autonomy’ and the Perception of Reality

Photograph Source: Marek Ślusarczyk (Tupungato) – CC BY 3.0

French President Emmanuel Macron’s statement in China about developing “strategic autonomy” from the United States is empty posturing intended for the domestic French market. Macron is a light-weight and a political opportunist, like so many before him.  He has done some back-pedalling since China, which justifies the criticism of some observers that describe him as “a well-oiled weathervane”.  The rest of the Europeans are no better, as the meeting of  G-7 Foreign Ministers in Nagano has shown.

This does not necessarily mean that rational considerations of self-interest in France, Germany, Italy, Spain might not eventually drive European governments to take concrete measures to buttress their own economies and assert European economic and political priorities – and not those of the Big Brother across the ocean.  It is time to rethink the Ukraine crisis, its root causes and the consequences for European citizens – and for the world.

One can legitimately ask whether and when the European politicians will finally understand that an alliance with the US represents a liability, not an asset, that the United States, not Russia or China, constitute the greatest danger for the survival of the planet, as the Global Majority already knows.  The recent Pentagon leaks confirm that the US systematically spies on European leaders and European industry, that the US shamelessly uses the Europeans as pawns in its geopolitical agenda.  The contempt that some US government officials have for Europe is reflected in the recorded statement of Victoria Nuland in 2014 in Kiev when she told the American Ambassador in Ukraine — “Fuck the EU”.

Europe’s euphoria about the United States is a form of unrequited love – and it will not be reciprocated anytime soon. On the contrary. The only role that the US has for Europe is that of a lowly vassal. And former investment banker Emmanuel Macron  (Rothschild & Co) plays the game of the world elites, maybe a bit more elegantly than Olaf Scholz or the inept Ursula von der Leyen.

When we talk about assets, let us talk about abandoning Europe’s irrational dependence on the so-called US nuclear shield, its new addiction to the hyper-expensive and ecologically hyper-unfriendly US liquified natural gas. This does not mean de-coupling from the US entirely, but Europe must think about loosening the transatlantic link and gradually de-dollarizing.

For Europe’s economy it would be important to ditch US sanctions against Russia and other countries and to protect European businessmen against the threat of penalties by the US Department of the Treasury – an outrage that must be resisted through the reassertion of the prohibition of the extraterritorial application of domestic laws, which violates the sovereignty of other states.  Europe must implement the international law obligation of every state to exercise diplomatic protection on behalf of its citizens, including its businessmen conducting legitimate business and trade abroad.

Recently I read an optimistic analysis in CGTN that France and Germany could gingerly move in the direction of greater European autonomy and European self-interest.  I am not as optimistic as the Chinese observer, because I see the US and Europe irretrievably caught in an irrational, self-righteous and obsolete cold war mentality — with everything that that entails.

Part of the problem lies in brainwashing, propaganda, and public relations. Notwithstanding all the evidence readily available about the horrendous crimes committed by the US in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo, etc. the US still enjoys a relatively good reputation in Europe (not in the Global South) and even pretends to be the “leader” of the so-called “free world.”  This really is the triumph of daily indoctrination by the mainstream media, social media, television, Hollywood.

Will the Europeans eventually understand that the US is not its friend and that essentially it never was?  The US intervention in the first and second world wars was driven purely by US economic interests and had little to do with the welfare of the Europeans.  Similarly, the Marshall Plan was for us, the US, not for the Europeans, who continue being naively pro-American instead of defending their sovereignty as Charles de Gaulle once did in France.  Unfortunately for everybody, de Gaulle’s successors have betrayed France and Europe.

NATO expansion has increased Washington’s power in Europe

Washington’s effort at full spectrum dominance led the world to the Georgia war of 2008 and to the Ukraine coup d’état of 2014 .  NATO expansion to the very frontiers of Russia, its arming of Ukraine and training of its army provoked the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Historians will not be able to maintain the US narrative of an “unprovoked” war.

Notwithstanding conventional “wisdom” and repetition, it is not impossible that one day Europeans will realize that NATO gradually morphed from a defensive alliance to a criminal organization within the meaning of articles 9 and 10 of the Statute of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg.  It is obvious that since the dismantlement of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, there is no justification for NATO other than an attempt at self-perpetuation, and at usurping the functions of the UN Security Council.  Countries like Finland and Sweden should be more circumspect about their wishes for security – sometimes people end up getting what they wished and it turns out to be contrary to their interests.   Finland will yet grow to regret joining this criminal organization because it thereby becomes complicit in the aggressions and war crimes committed by NATO members in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria over the past 30 years.

Europe must avoid being drawn into a potential conflict surrounding Taiwan

Europe must stay clear of the Taiwan conflict, because any direct involvement would be contrary to Europe’s economic and political interests.  Moreover, whether Europe wants it or not, the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative is a success with 150 countries buying into it.  Europe would be isolating itself it it considers departing from the one-China principle.

Yet, what is reasonable and rational is not what necessarily happens in politics. One problem is that in matters of foreign policy no European country behaves like a democracy.  Unlike Switzerland that has a tradition of referenda for almost everything, including the Swiss entry into the UN in 2002 by virtue of a referendum (prior referenda failed), there is no “people power” whatever in Europe.  Notwithstanding millions of European citizens protesting the run-up to the Iraq war, the US and the “coalition of the willing” bombarded the hell out of the Iraqi people and imposed undemocratic regime change.  Notwithstanding the opposition of many in Europe, the US sanctions regime is being implemented.   Indeed, most Europeans leave everything in the hands of their governments, assuming that the governments have democratic legitimacy by virtue of periodic elections.  Yet, on important matters such as the prevention of war, those who govern act directly against the interest of their constituencies.  A referendum in December 2021 whether NATO should have negotiated with Russland on the question of a European security architecture would certainly have favoured negotiation over confrontation.

I think that the so-called European elites are in a very real sense traitors to their own countries – giving aid and comfort to the United States, a foreign entity, at the expense of the interests of their own populations.  They are actually worse than Vidkun Quisling during the second world war.  In Norway’s case, the Nazis had militarily occupied the country. Today, the US economically and politically occupies Europe.

Russian frozen assets and international law

The G-7 foreign ministers meeting in Nagano have spoken about Russian frozen assets which purportedly will remain “immobilized” until the Ukraine conflict is resolved.  The G-7 assumes that Russia will lose the war will have to pay reparations to Ukraine.  The frozen funds would be used for that purpose.

This is an interesting idea, which remains contingent on the end of hostilities.  It would also set a precedent of far-reaching implications.  “Any resolution to the conflict must ensure Russia pays for the damage it has caused.”   By analogy, the United States would have to make trillions of dollars in reparations to Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc.  The Europeans would have to pay trillions of Euros to the Africans and Asians for the looting of the colonies and for the countless massacres of the natives, particularly in the “Belgian” Congo.

The foreign ministers also announced their resolve to increase the economic restrictions on Russia and to punish third parties for any attempts to “evade and undermine our sanctions measures.” They must “cease assistance to Russia’s war, or face severe costs,” the G7 warned.  Such “resolve” contravenes the Global Majority that votes year after year in the General Assembly and Human Rights Council to condemn unilateral coercive measures (US and EU sanctions).  The latest resolutions were GA Res. 77/214 of 15 December 2022 and HRC Res. 52/13 of 3 April 2023.  There too, bearing in mind the economic damage caused by unilateral coercive measures to countries like Cuba, Nicaragua, Syria, Venezuela – as well as to third parties, the bill to be presented to the US and EU would go into the trillions of dollars.

The perception of facts and law

We have been swimming in an ocean of lies for decades.  We are surrounded by fake news, fake history, fake law, fake diplomacy  – which has brought us to fake freedom and fake democracy.  The level of manipulation of public opinion can only be called “Orwellian”.  The mainstream media, schools, peer pressure, groupthink — all have led us to the dystopia we now live in. Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave new world – is equally relevant.  Worth rereading.

It is time for mature persons to make an effort to consult all available sources of information and evaluate different perspectives on the facts.  This requires consulting not only CNN, BBC and the NY Times, but also RT, Sputnik, CGTN, Asia Times, Xinhua, etc.  It entails reading and supporting alternative media including Counterpunch, Consortium News, Democracy Now, the Real News Network, Truthout, the Intercept, Push Back, etc.   We can do it.

Alfred de Zayas is a law professor at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and served as a UN Independent Expert on International Order 2012-18. He is the author of twelve books including “Building a Just World Order” (2021) “Countering Mainstream Narratives” 2022, and “The Human Rights Industry” (Clarity Press, 2021).