Europe needs to abandon illusion about US, choose what’s best for itself
Published: Jul 13, 2021 08:28 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Bruno Maçães, a former European minister of Portugal, expressed his concerns over Europe's international status in a Politico article on Friday. He wrote, "The West cannot survive without a strong Europe." He admitted, "Today, it's Europe that looks like a playground, rather than a player."

The cause of such a situation is no one other than Europe itself. It was once an important polar of the world, but now the US treats it more as a prize than a partner. Europe has become less and less respected by the US by blindly following the US in too many issues and by failing to speak in its own voice over many concerns.

Talking about Europe's possible fate, Maçães wrote, "The continent's future is frequently reduced to one of two scenarios: first, the transatlantic alliance continues to thrive and is able to stave off threats from China and Russia. Second, the Western partnership withers, leaving Europe too weak to avoid becoming a peninsula of Eurasia, under some form of control from the giants to the east."

Such analysis is based on the view of China and Russia as threats, which is set by the US according to its own political needs. On the basis of such arguments, how can Europe draw conclusions that meet its own interests? From the controversial Nord Stream 2 project, people can see that the US not only wants to keep its blockade against Russia, but also prefers to hold Europe's energy lifeline in check. 

The US still attaches importance to Europe - as a forward position and tool in its geopolitical game against China and Russia. 

If Europeans wish to stand again at the center of the world stage, a strong Europe would be the premise. To have a strong Europe, the continent should inevitably strive to realize strategic autonomy and become a pole in the world. Europeans need to abandon their illusions about the US, setting their minds free from the American rhetoric and choosing what is the best for Europe. 

However, the truth is, many Europeans are deeply influenced by American-style thinking and unconsciously worship the US. Even Maçães has said that "the EU should just resign itself to its fate of becoming the political and economic dependent of a new American empire. And if it came down to that, I would join those timorous diplomats in choosing the American master over the available alternatives."

Whether this is sarcasm or not, it reflects the prevailing defeatism among Europeans. In foreign affairs, they are inclined to stand close to the US because they view the US as a guarantee. But given US political uncertainty and its decline in strength, Europe has begun to doubt if it has made a reliable choice, Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"In this context, Europe needs an 'increment,' which is China. Although China's rapid development has also made Europe feel uncertain, the certainty about China-Europe trade and economic cooperation is much firmer. That's why Europe is ambivalent and hesitant between China and the US," Cui said. 

The biggest illusion of Europe may be that the continent could replicate the Cold War, in which it formed an alliance with the US against the Soviet Union and then shared the dividends of the Cold War as a winner. However, the US hasn't demonstrated enough political certainty to convince Europe for a new Cold War. In the meantime, Europe still hasn't figured out how to compensate the losses in its short-term interests caused by blindly following the US.

Losing itself in such an illusion, Europe won't see "the re-forging of the West" but "its death," as Maçães put it. "The US seems headed toward a new, exciting Cold War. Europe may be slouching off into a geopolitical sunset."