Can fractured Western alliance learn from World War I?

By Li Aixin Source:Global Times Published: 2018/11/12 23:03:39

Sunday, which marks 100 years since the end of WWI, was overwhelmed by reports over US President Donald Trump's rain check on a ceremony honoring fallen American WWI soldiers because of the bad weather. Few media touched upon that the war stemmed from competition for hegemony and colonies. Many of the ongoing regional conflicts and clashes today can still be traced to that period of colonialism. 

But at least media worldwide all caught one thing - growing divergences within the Western world under the appearance of unity showed on Sunday's armistice centenary ceremonies in Paris.

"Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism," French President Emmanuel Macron said in his address, "Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism. By saying, 'Our interests first, who cares about the others,' we erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it great and what is essential: its moral values". This is obviously a nod to Trump.

Macron was right for raising the issue of nationalism, because both WWI and WWII were ignited by extreme nationalism, racism and populism. It is because of unity, responsibility and collaboration of the rest of the world - which also cared for the interests of developing nations and welcomed the participation of developing countries - that human beings were able to bring the two wars to an end.

Ironically, when the West is commemorating WWI, unity, responsibility and collaboration is hard to find. The US, which once led the West and helped decide the favor of two world wars, is now abandoning its values of unity and forgot what Abraham Lincoln once said, "Let's have faith that right makes might".

Even though Macron pointed that out, how to deal with US unilateralism and how to bridge the divergences in the Western world, are still left unanswered.

Being disappointed time and again by Washington, the EU has started to seek more strategic initiative. The block announced the a establishment of a special purpose vehicle to bypass US sanctions against Iran to safeguard Europe's trade with Tehran and expects to build an EU army to reduce reliance on the US for defense, to which Trump responded "very insulting".

A supposedly somber event for commemorating a human tragedy 100 years ago sadly missed the central point of how to best avoid it in the future. Instead, it became a hollow photo-op to showcase unity of the West to the world. Unfortunately, a fractured transatlantic alliance bodes badly for future global stability.

Participation of and consultation with developing countries for safeguarding world peace seem not to be of value to the West. Are Western countries drawing any lessons from 100 years ago?

Posted in: OBSERVER

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