Restor­ing the bal­ance

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY COSTAS IORDANIDIS

US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump is mov­ing into the White House to­mor­row, yet the world has al­ready changed. The niceties have been cast aside, po­lit­i­cal rhetoric has as­sumed a raw­ness that un­til now was as­so­ci­ated only with mil­i­tary ac­tion, and po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness has been re­placed by di­rect­ness in the con­veyance of the po­lit­i­cal mes­sage. Not so long ago, Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist Fran­cis Fukuyama had her­alded the end of his­tory in an es­say that be­came the bi­ble of neo-lib­er­al­ism. He has been re­futed ab­so­lutely by the preva­lence of the claim for na­tional sovereignty. The lead­ers of the great pow­ers to­day are na­tion­al­ists: not just Trump, Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, but also Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, the cham­pion of glob­al­iza­tion, and Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel and her fi­nance min­is­ter, Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble. Trump is not delu­sional; his ar­gu­ment is sim­ple. The col­lapse of the USSR and com­mu­nism in Europe was the re­sult of a rad­i­cal strat­egy spear­headed by for­mer US pres­i­dent Ron­ald Re­gan, but the big­gest ben­e­fits from this devel­op­ment went to two coun­tries that had lit­tle mil­i­tary power, to ex­port forces, Ger­many and China, as the US be­came in­stead em­broiled in fu­tile bat­tles. The post-Soviet era is marked by a his­tor­i­cal para­dox and the bal­ance can only be re­stored with a ma­jor turn­around, be­cause it is in­con­ceiv­able that the most pow­er­ful coun­try in the world should act as a sup­ple­men­tary force in the in­ter­est of third par­ties or that it guar­an­tees the se­cu­rity of al­lies who are in­con­sis­tent in their obli­ga­tions. The US de­cried the com­pet­i­tive edge ac­quired by Ger­man com­pa­nies – in fair and un­fair ways. Af­ter all, ev­ery case against Siemens, Volk­swa­gen and Deutsche Bank started in Wash­ing­ton. Trump ad­dressed this is­sue in po­lit­i­cal terms – terms harsher than any­thing that has been heard in Ger­many since World War II – when he ac­cused Ber­lin of us­ing Europe as a ve­hi­cle for its en­large­ment. Trump, how­ever, is not alone in the ef­fort to re­store some bal­ance in Europe and the world – be­cause this is what the is­sue is ba­si­cally about. May, who is grad­u­ally emerg­ing as the UK’s new Iron Lady, made it clear in her last pub­lic ad­dress that Britain’s exit from the Euro­pean Union will be to­tal and that the right to na­tional sovereignty is in­alien­able. Clearly, a strate­gic con­ver­gence be­tween the US and the UK is un­der way, with the aim ob­vi­ously be­ing to crush Ger­many, as was the case in the last two world wars. They are not af­ter the breakup of the Euro­pean Union, but the restora­tion of the bal­ance so that the con­ti­nent no longer serves as a ve­hi­cle serv­ing the na­tion­al­ist as­pi­ra­tions of Ber­lin and Bei­jing.

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