When will we, Europeans, understand that we are alone? When will we draw the right conclusions?
Considering what is being played out in Germany and Italy today, it should drive us to urgently search for the answers to these vital questions.
Since the twenties, Europeans gradually became accustomed to the idea that, even if they made a thousand mistakes, there would always be someone to save them from their own turpitude. And the United States also gradually settled into the role of Deus ex Machina. And indeed, they saved us (with Stalin) from Nazi monsters with their army; they saved us from our economic sclerosis with the Marshall Plan; and they saved us from the Soviet threat with their nuclear missiles.
For a long time, the Europeans did not want to see that this support was not just altruistic: the United States’ entry into the war in 1940 was the real driving force behind their exit from the crisis of 1929. The Marshall plan allowed them to unload their materials and goods en masse. And the nuclear protection against the Soviet Union helped justify the enormous resources allocated to their military-industrial complex.
Moreover, this support has always been carefully managed and limited: the Americans had done everything so that their Allies could continue needing them. It was out of the question for the Europeans to be independent militarily, financially, culturally, industrially or technologically. There was not a single strategic industry in which the United States did not seek to either maintain control, or deprive the Europeans from doing so. Similarly, there was not an area of law where the Americans did not try to set the rules. And there was not an area in innovation where the Americans were not pulling the strings.
For a long time, Europeans remained blind to this cynicism and false altruism. They remained docile vassals and did nothing to create the conditions necessary for their autonomy, (except, partially, in monetary policy). In fact, they even approved these dynamics, most of them shamefully enjoying their servitude.
Today, everything has changed. Europeans can no longer afford to not see that they are alone; that the Americans are no longer there to defend them; that the American President makes his decisions without taking into account either the point of view or the interests of their allies.
And it’s not unique to Donald Trump. Long before, since at least George W. Bush, the Americans have always done things their way. Obama had even theorized it by formulating the astonishing concept of “leading from behind”: his charm was necessary to keep others from noticing the cowardice of such statement.
It is one thing to obey the Americans when it’s consistent with our strategy. However, it is another thing to submit to their diktats when it is contrary to our interests.
Europeans have yet to draw conclusions from their loneliness. They have yet to realize that if they are the targets of an attack, whether it is terrorism or a strategic attack, it is no longer certain that Washington will send its soldiers, or take the risk of having a bomb dropped on its territory. As for me, I am even convinced that, in the medium term, the opposite is certain: if Europe is attacked, no American will come to die in order to save us.
Divided, European countries will not be able to do anything to combat these threats, and the populists are as suicidal as the blissful Atlanticists.
It would therefore be criminal (and I weigh my words) for European leaders to not plan and prepare together against these threats. To do everything so that their armies no longer need American technologies to function; to create the conditions for a common defence of land and sea borders; and to allocate the resources in order to acquire information independent of U.S. satellites and undersea cables.
European federalism, which only the French president proposes, is no longer an option among others. It is becoming the necessary condition for the survival of the cultures of our continent.