Europe – The US withdrawal or “scandalous escape” from Afghanistan came as an unprecedented shock to international relations. This tragic event is undoubtedly a historical turning point in the end of American hegemony and will undergo profound changes in global geopolitics in the future. This historic flight has not only shocked and confused US allies in NATO but also shocked those US allies in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf that are already thinking about their fate in the process of future geopolitical changes.
Europe, which for decades, especially after the Second World War, backed by years of unwavering political and security support from the United States, imagined itself to be the culmination of “global civilization” and “Western liberalism,” now deeply ignored by the United States. Donald Trump’s one-sided principles, which humiliated and disturbed Europe for four years, were in fact a political and security betrayal of continental Europe with the sudden and unilateral withdrawal of Joe Biden from Afghanistan without consulting European allies.
Even the most conservative and Atlantics-oriented European leaders in Germany and France now insist on the need for continental self-reliance and a gradual reduction of military-security dependence on the United States. The fact is that the neglect or leaving of Europe by the United States on certain issues is not a new issue, and has existed since the Cold War, the Balkan crisis and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has always occupied the minds of Europe. Even these negligences in the Cold War negotiations with the Soviet Union led to France’s decision to withdraw from NATO in 1967, and continued resentment led French President Macron to criticize the European Union for not aligning itself with Trump.
NATO spoke of its “brain death;” The fact is that Macron at the time, at the height of the EU’s weak foreign and security policy, wanted to breathe a sigh of relief at the weak and helpless body of Europe and democratically distance himself from the traditional left and right parties, in an idealistic and, of course, unsupported, moderate opinion. Europe and France absorb within the framework of the EU goals. But all European leaders, even emerging political leaders in Eastern Europe, turned their backs on France, believing that Europe, with its current trends until the unpredictable future, would still be able to turn a blind eye to US defense and security deterrence and stand on its own defense and military feet.
Even at a video conference in February 2021, EU leaders failed to reach a conclusion on defense policy issues and a long-term plan to achieve defense independence and cut ties with the United States, leaving France alone, the EU’s sole nuclear power. Again insisting above all on the need for European defense and security independence, which now, with the AUKUS security agreement between Australia, Britain and the United States and the cancellation of the $ 66 billion deal with France, received such a slap in the face from Washington that it recalled its ambassador to the United States.
Germany, which fears those long-term relations between the two sides of the Atlantic will be affected by the continuation of such divergent policies and that the United States will be further provoked, is testing its chances of launching Nord Stream 2, a document that could expand cooperation with the United States while strengthening European defense and security, and highlighting Germany’s role as a political balance between the United States and Russia; Or that by implementing the Nord Stream 2 project, it will completely damage the relations between Europe and the United States and even polarize Europe.
There is no doubt, of course, that the European Union will not be able to achieve full-fledged, defense independence in today’s US-Russia and China rivalry under difficult and dangerous international conditions. The reason is quite clear. It is enough to look at non-professional armies with very small European budgets and expenditures in the field of defense and arms purchases compared to the huge military expenditures of the United States, Russia and China. According to final figures, released by NATO, total US military spending and arms purchases in 2020 were about $ 785 billion, compared to $ 300 billion for Germany and other EU member states in the same year have not gone beyond this amount of spending.
If we look at the joint arms projects between the big European countries, one after another, they have faced many problems and failures. The idea of “Eureca” in 1985 and the idea of establishing the “Organization for Permanent Structural Cooperation” or PESCO, which was approved by the European Council in December 2017; Or the so-called “Military Mobility Project or MM” did not succeed in the turbulent political disputes and bureaucracy of Europe.
The PESCO Accords were originally designed to help NATO counter Russian threats and create more security for Europe, but its development has been postponed indefinitely due to the indifference of the United States and Britain. Also, a joint project of Germany, France and Spain to create an ambitious system called the “Future Air Battle System or FCAS” worth 100 billion euros, including the production of a sixth generation fighter that was to replace the Rafael and Eurofighter fighters by 2040; that France saw the project as one of the most important tools for European independence in the 21st century, has been canceled through the complicated path of decision makings, paradoxes and conflicts of interests.
All this ambiguity, fragmentation and confusion in Europe’s defense and military policies comes at a time when major powers such as Russia, China, India and even North Korea have pursued heavy conventional and unconventional weapon programs. In general, the common security policy of the European Union has traditionally suffered from constant divisions and is considered a real Achilles’ heel of a real alliance.
The fragility of this policy is especially palpable during the crisis of the 1990s in the Balkans and then during the last two decades in the Middle East and during the US war against Iraq and Afghanistan and even the issue of Ukraine and the occupation of Crimea as well as the civil war in Syria and Libya.
It can be said that Europe has lost its hand in the process of regional and global crises, and in the “complete defeat of the Western world” in Afghanistan, Europe’s credibility has been damaged more than the United States. Europe has been slapped on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and has no plans for Europe’s political and security future.
Europe has shown how powerless it is in the face of its godfather’s monotony across the Atlantic. But it seems that under the current circumstances, Europe can make the final decision for its political and security reconstruction and think of a better future, in this strategic security vacuum, regaining its authority and moving towards a coherent foreign and security policy. Bring new life to the tired body of the European Union.
Germany, France and Italy are politically, economically and financially supportive in a position to put aside controversial issues over military projects in consultation with other EU member states, or even, at least in the form of a greater presence in NATO to strengthen political independence, return defense to Europe to some extent within the framework of NATO.
by Pooya Mirzaei