Keep­ing an eye on Wash­ing­ton

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY COSTAS IORDANIDIS

Europe is reg­u­larly put un­der pres­sure be­cause of elec­tions in member-states that put off de­ci­sions whose im­por­tance de­pends on the influence of each par­tic­u­lar coun­try on the bloc as a whole. On a global level, how­ever, changes in Europe’s po­lit­i­cal land­scape are akin to a re­gional elec­tion when it comes to the stronger bloc mem­bers and to the elec­tion of a com­mu­nity leader when it comes to the less pow­er­ful coun­tries. In this re­spect, next week’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tions in the United States are of mon­u­men­tal im­por­tance and a win for Repub­li­can can­di­date Don­ald Trump will in­evitably rock the en­tire world. Even putting aside the histri­on­ics and vul­gar­i­ties of his pre-elec­tion cam­paign, Trump is tout­ing a re­turn to the fun­da­men­tal ideas and ob­ses­sions that cre­ated the “Amer­i­can mir­a­cle.” Smug and aloof, Europe – un­der the cat­alytic influence of Ger­many – ap­pears to have for­got­ten the fact that Amer­ica has set the in­ter­na­tional tone in ev­ery area, and par­tic­u­larly in the global econ­omy, for the past cen­tury. Franklin Roo­sevelt’s New Deal was es­tab­lished in 1933-36 to off­set the ef­fect of the Great De­pres­sion of 1929 and it helped boost the state’s role as an im­por­tant reg­u­la­tory power. This no­tion was adopted in Europe – to a greater or lesser de­gree – and the state was el­e­vated to a reg­u­la­tor of eco­nomic growth. This phi­los­o­phy per­sisted un­til Ron­ald Rea­gan en­tered the White House and changed the course of the US and global economies. Over the past few years, the Euro­pean Union has de­vel­oped an eco­nomic phi­los­o­phy that is di­a­met­ri­cally dif­fer­ent to Amer­ica’s in or­der to man­age the cri­sis in the bloc, and this phi­los­o­phy is cen­tered al­most en­tirely on Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble’s in­sis­tence on fis­cal aus­ter­ity. The Ger­man fi­nance min­is­ter is ba­si­cally act­ing like an ac­coun­tant who sweeps some things un­der the car­pet and does what he can to safe­guard his client’s in­ter­ests, but at some point, the reg­u­la­tory au­thor­ity – in this case the US – comes along and slaps enor­mous fines on the gi­ants of Ger­man in­dus­try, mak­ing it per­fectly clear to the en­tire world just who is run­ning the show. Mainly, though, Schaeu­ble is act­ing on the be­lief that the US will do ev­ery­thing needed to pro­tect the West and that Europe’s most pros­per­ous na­tions will make more money in the process. But right now, Europe faces the like­li­hood of a pres­i­dent in the White House who be­lieves that the US-Europe mar­riage has run its course. Cou­pled with the rise of na­tion­al­ism in Ber­lin as well, the Europe Union ap­pears too close to a post-euro era for com­fort.

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