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RIVISTA Plurisettimanale Online > Registr. Trib. PE n. 02/2016 ISSN 2611-626X editata da DOMUS EUROPA_Centro Studi di Geocultura

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Book Review: Why the political project Europe has failed?

RECENSIONIBook Review: Why the political project Europe has failed?

By Elisabeth Hellenbroich

According to the main thesis of the well documented but sometimes very pessimistically written book by Ulrike Guérot und Hauke Ritz: Endspiel Europa (Endgame Europe- Why the political project Europe has failed- and how we can dream of it again. Verlag Westend, Frankfurt 2022) Europe has not succeeded in building a cooperative, continental peace order. After the historical events of 1989 the “European house from Lisbon to Vladivostok” project, as it was once formulated by former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev, failed. The book is dedicated to Mikhail S. Gorbachev and Jaques Delors. It was Gorbachev who paved the way for German reunification at the same historic moment when German Chancellor Helmut Kohl made the promise that German and European unification were two sides of the same coin. The book written by Europe expert and professor for European politics at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelm University in Bonn, Ulrike Guérot and her co-author, Eastern Europe expert Hauke Ritz, evaluates the war in Ukraine as the destruction of the “idea of a political Europe.”

Major projects like the European grand project of 1989, the November 1990 Charter of Paris Conference and the KSE conference 1991,  in which the grand vision of a self-determined Europe and a continental peace order was developed, unfortunately failed. (From 1992 to 1995, Guérot worked in Bonn as a parliamentary assistant in the office of Karl Lamers, MP, then spokesperson of the German Christian Democratic Party for foreign affairs. In this period, she contributed to the so-called “Schäuble-Lamers” paper on core-Europe of 1994. In 1995, she moved to Paris and worked first as a Director of Communication for the Association for the Monetary Union of Europe (AMUE); and then as Chargée de Mission for the Paris-based think tank Notre Europe, under the auspices of former President of the EU Commission, Jacques Delors.)

“A European peace order including Paris and Moscow that was strived for in the 20th century by Willy Brandt and Egon Bahr, and treated as a realistic option by Helmut Kohl and his security advisor Horst Teltschik, was attempted for the last time by Gerhard Schröder,” the book states. “With the USA as a regulatory power, Europe cannot become a stable political entity and find a ‘confederal peace’ on the continent. And without the Siberian raw materials and the Chinese market there is no lasting prosperity for Europe either” the authors state. They ask: “if the goal of NATO in the 20th century was, in the famous words of Lord Ismay, ‘to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down,’ perhaps in the 21st century it should be: ‘ Keep the Americans out, the Russians in and lift Europe up?’”

The background to the Russian-Ukrainian war as a US-Russia proxy war 

The authors deduce from American sources that the Russian-Ukrainian war is a long prepared American proxy war and a result of decades of American geostrategic planning, whose real goal is the consolidation of American dominance in Europe. “Europe is to be cut off from its economic veins in the East. It is a policy of ‘restricted damage’, of controlled, but deliberate economic damage, aimed above all aimed at capping German trade surplus.” Europe is economically and strategically needed by the U.S., but “in American eyes it should not emancipate itself and thereby possibly become a competitor of a long ailing world power that fears its own demise.”

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the joint declarations of Gorbachev and Kohl which laid the basis for a new European peace order to be shaped in the future under the motto “Never again war”, the USA “understood the fall of the Wall and the end of the Cold War not as a unification of Germany and Europe, but as a victory of their empire over the only equal competitor, the Soviet Union. Where the Europeans dreamed of European unification and overcoming the war, the USA thought above all about the power-political consequences of the fall of the Wall! Fukuyama described in his book “The end of history and the Last Man” the USA as the only model of a highly developed civilization for the world (…)  The West imagined itself at the end of the history and was from now on always the good one!” the authors state.

An arrogant and missionary West was about to offer “a one-dimensional conception of democracy and liberalism of the Western-American type for all. European values such as solidarity, cohesion, common good, international law, diplomacy, cooperative, Christian social doctrine, social democracy or even socialism and communism were put aside in the same breath – in order to decompose Europe.” Guérot and Ritz refer to an essay by Charles Krauthammer in Foreign Affairs (1990) under the title “The Unipolar Moment” in which Krauthammer stated that the United States would be the only power on the entire globe for the foreseeable future. All other states would have no choice but to recognize the USA’s claim to leadership. The UN Charter was to be replaced by an order consisting mainly of the USA and its closest allies. This international community, led by the USA and consisting primarily of Western states, should in future be able to act independently of the UN Security Council against countries which Krauthammer calls ‘Weapon states’.

The idea of the U.S. as a “world policeman,” according to Guérot, was contrary to the European idea of the “Peace of Westphalia” treaty from 1648, according to which non-interference in the internal affairs of other states became the cornerstone of international law. “A decade after Krauthammer, this right to non-interference enshrined under international law, was abrogated by a series of precedents (Yugoslavia war in 1999, Afghanistan war in 2001, Iraq war in 2003) at the instigation of the USA and instead reinterpreted as a ‘responsibility to protect.’ Thus, the UN Charter was replaced by the ‘rule-based order’ of the West: international law in the name of the Good, unilaterally imposed by the U.S.”

Equally influential for the new geostrategic thinking promoted by the U.S. was, as the book  “Defense Planning Guidance 1994-99” – a redefinition of U.S. foreign policy, formulated by Paul Wolfowitz (then Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs in the Pentagon), which was developed  two months after the end of the Soviet Union. The redefinition, he called for, later became known as the “Wolfowitz Doctrine”: “Our first objective,” it said, “is to prevent the reemergence of a new rival, whether on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on that scale.(…) We are committed to doing whatever we can to prevent the reemergence of a new rival, whether on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere.(…) We are committed, to preventing any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources, under consolidated control, would be sufficient to generate global power.” (Excerpts from Pentagon’s Plan: Prevent the Reemergence of a New Rival, New York Times, March 8,1992)

The dilemma in Europe at that time was according to Guérot and Ritz, that there was “no real independence from the transatlantic structures” that exercised their hegemony in Europe. For Europe, this meant submitting to the USA, and European compliance turned into submissiveness, which became especially clear in the Yugoslavian war and the senseless bombing of Serbia. This violation of international law, according to the book authors, then became a “precedent for the obligation to intervene, sought by the USA.”  The war in Yugoslavia, accompanied by professional PR work, had made NATO’s intervention in the war absolutely necessary, and the war in Serbia had also already been an American proxy war on European soil, aimed at Russia.

Regime changes and sophisticated information warfare, according to Guérot and Ritz, are another element in the enforcement of U.S. hegemonic aspirations in Europe. The book describes various “color revolutions” that had been staged by the U.S. in Eastern Europe. The authors refer to the book “From Dictatorship to Democracy. A conceptual framework for Liberation” (Albert Einstein Institution, Boston 2002) written by the political scientist Gene Sharp. He demonstrated in his book the “technique” for carrying out these color revolutions, that were carefully prepared by the media and a professional PR strategy to make it look, as if the population wants the change of power (Example Orange Revolution 2004, Ukraine; Rose Revolution in Georgia 2008), whose purpose was to install a US friendly government. “The hegemonic American penetration of Eastern Europe has been systematic since these color revolutions, and the EU has always been asked to accept the country in question into the EU – Moldova, Georgia or Ukraine,” the authors state.

But the U.S. was also determined, according to the authors, to surround Russia with the “missile launch pads of the missile shield, first in Poland and Romania, then also as by means of mobile sea-based systems”, which amounted to a new arms race. Russian President Putin, who had come to power in 2001 and had at the time been received with standing ovations in the German Bundestag, warned very sharply at the Munich Security Conference in 2007 of a “loss of confidence in international relations, a degradation of the UN in favor of NATO, whose eastward expansion had been carried out in various phases since 1994.” He also warned of the deterioration of international law, stating that America’s policy is based on the misconception that it is possible to create a unipolar world order in which there is only one global decision-making center.” In such a world order there would be no moral foundation.

Putin’s speech however at the time was not taken seriously, and a profound dialogue with Moscow failed to materialize. The fronts hardened on both sides and from then on, there was talk of an “autocratization of Russia.” A full-fledged “Information war” against Russia was launched.

Countdown to war

In the context of the events at the Maidan 2014, the declaration of independence of the Crimean Peninsula and the fighting in the republics of Donbass and Luhansk, the book reports that in February 2015, 5000 Ukrainian military personnel were surrounded by popular militias of the republics of Donbass and Luhansk near the small town of Debaltseve. In the wake of this crisis, negotiations took place between the Ukrainian government and the representatives of the two independent republics of Lugansk and Donetsk, as well as Germany, France and Russia. “The agreement actually provided for a federal structure for Ukraine. This solution would have allowed Ukraine to resolve the conflict between western and eastern Ukraine within the framework of a federal order.(….) The U.S., in particular, had little interest in a federal structure for Ukraine, because Washington wanted to transform the country into a military frontline state against Russia,” the book states. The Minsk agreement from the US point of view had only been agreed upon, in order to buy time to rearm Ukraine militarily and train its soldiers according to NATO standards.

America’s plans to divide Europe

The book makes reference to an important speech in 2015 by the American geostrategist George Friedman at the “Chicago Council on Global Affairs”, where he stated “that it is the goal of the United States to cut Russia off from Europe by a new cordon sanitaire (…) The Americans have the interest to extend their sphere of influence as deep into Russian space as possible. Ideal would be a line from St. Petersburg to Rostov, which would cut Russia off from Europe. In this case, the cordon sanitaire would be only 70 miles from Stalingrad and 300 miles from Moscow.” “The unknown card in this game”, the Friedman continued, “is the role of Germany.” He stated that for the U.S. “the main concern is that German technology and German capital, combined with Russian resources and Russian manpower, will create a combined force that has already frightened the U.S. in the last century.” A new “iron curtain” should therefore be created from the Baltic to the Black Sea. The Russians, Friedman also said, had also put their cards on the table. They needed a neutral Ukraine. “But whoever can tell me,” Friedman said, “what the Germans will do, will be able to predict the next 40 years of history.”

According to the authors it is clear from these above mentioned statements, that the separation of Russia from Europe has been planned by the United States since at least 2015. This included since 2014 Ukraine’s military buildup, that progressed gradually, combined with the training of Ukraine military by NATO. It further included the U.S. missile shield that became operational at a base in Romania in 2016 and in Poland in 2021, as well as a number of sea-based launchers for interceptor missiles exist on the Arleigh Burke class destroyers, which theoretically could cover the entire coast of Russia. Yet also Russia made efforts to modernize its military, i.e. its nuclear forces, and to develop new weapons (hypersonic missiles and a nuclear-powered cruise missile) which led to the cancellation of the INF treaty by the US.

The authors conclude that the US, Great Britain and Canada were actively engaged in the build- up of military activities in Ukraine since 2014. “If one studies the preparations for war in detail, it becomes clear that Ukraine’s role was to start a war with Russia on behalf of the West, which was then to be supported militarily and logistically by NATO member states without directly involving the alliance as a whole in the war. This process was to be accompanied by economic warfare (sanctions), information warfare (anti-Russian propaganda) and nuclear encirclement of Russia, which was to be ensured primarily by the missile shield in Romania and Poland as well as sea-based system on the destructive Arleigh Burke class. All these measures were in line with the U.S. pursuit of ‘full spectrum dominance’ and aimed at weakening the Russian Federation on several levels to the point that the country would lose its balance and internal conflicts would lead to the fall of the government.”

On March 21, 2021, Ukraine adopted a military strategy that commits the government to take all necessary measures, including military ones, to reintegrate Crimea and the republics of Donbass and Lugansk. In March, the British Ministry of Defense also declared its intention to increase its activities in the Black Sea. In the same month, the “Defender Europe 21” military exercise, involving 28,000 troops from 26 countries, began in the immediate vicinity of Ukraine. This was followed by approximately a dozen other NATO military maneuvers in the region. On November 10, there was the signing of the U.S.-Ukrainian Charter of Strategic Partnership. Also on November 10th American media reported a deployment of the Russian army along the Ukrainian border. “What was not (!) reported was that there was also a parallel deployment of Ukrainian troops along the border with the independent republics of Donetsk and Lugansk and on the border with Crimea.  A superior number of Ukrainian military units emerged on the border with the two republics. Russia interpreted the Ukrainian deployment …as a preparation for war.” On 27 January 2022, the diplomatic efforts for dialogue between Moscow and the USA failed. The U.S. rejected Russia’s core demands, such as renouncing NATO’s eastward expansion, reducing NATO’s presence in accordance with the 1997 NATO-Russia Act, and renouncing the deployment of long- and medium-range missiles.

On February 7, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister stated in a press conference that there would be no direct dialogue between his government and the pro-Russian rebels in Eastern Ukraine. This was a public admission that the Minsk Agreement would not be implemented. On 14 February 2022, US President Joe Biden stated that he expected Russia to attack Ukraine on 16 February 2022. In fact, on February 16, 2022, Ukraine began an ever-increasing shelling of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics. Up to 3212 ceasefire violations and 2026 explosions were recorded daily by the OSCE.

On 19 February 2022, Ukrainian President Selensky stated at the Munich Security Conference, that his country would withdraw from the Budapest Memorandum unless there were security guarantees from the five permanent members of the Security Council, including Germany and Turkey. This was like an indirect announcement for the use of nuclear weapons, according to the authors.  On 21 February 2022, Moscow recognized the independence of the independent republics of Donetsk and Lugansk that previously had asked for military assistance. On February 24 2022 Russian troops crossed the border with Ukraine. Since then, this unjustifiable war is escalating in the middle of Europe, having left on the battlefield tens of thousands of dead and wounded soldiers and civilians on both sides as well as many destroyed cities and infrastructure. The bloody war is drawing Europe more and more into a destructive spiral of was violence. According to the book, the only exit is to get back to a reasonable dialogue with Russia and the implementation of a peace vision for a new federal Europe, that had come into being only in rudimentary form in 1989.

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