At the turn of the 1970s, the expert community was actively discussing the “madman theory” attributed to US President Richard Nixon. Nixon believed that popularizing a conviction that the White House was the abode of a mad politician (himself), who hated the Communists so much that he was ready to use any means, including nuclear weapons, to crush them would be a powerful lever to put pressure on the disobedient North Vietnamese. He was confident that the Vietnamese would be scared and rush to the negotiating table to end the disgraceful Second Indochina War on Washington’s terms.
Today, watching Washington threaten a good half of the countries in the world, experts are blowing the dust off old manuals and brushing up this “good old theory.” Practically all the states in the Western Hemisphere, Turkey, China and Russia are named among those affected by the ill-conceived US actions that violate the habitual norms of interstate relations as well as international law. But the main targets for the new version of the “madman theory” are North Korea and Iran. The reaction to Washington’s aggression against these two coming from its closest allies in Western Europe indicates that the leading West European states are hastily creating fool-proof systems to protect their legitimate political and economic interests from US pressure. It was America pulling out of the “nuclear deal” with Iran that proved the decisive factor influencing their decision to fend for themselves rather than bothering to waste any time rubbing shoulders with Washington and risking destroying everything. Another option is to do the same in an alliance with Russia that also regards the current US diplomatic practices as devastating.
It is this that we see as the EU’s motive for expediting the development of the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) in September 2018 to handle anonymous settlements with Iran in circumvention of the US-controlled SWIFT system. Later Germany, France and Britain decided to establish the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), with its headquarters in Paris, to take charge of settlements with Iran.
A much more radical collective actor are the 19 member states of the EU’s Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), which are doing their best to make the euro an independent pole of the world financial system. Why the euro and why now? Our reply is the following.
Let me add in conclusion that the term “multipolarity,” formerly a taboo in Brussels but hailed by Russia as an ideal global political and economic system, is now highly popular with Eurocrats. Interestingly, it has come into prominence precisely during the debate on internationalizing the euro. Such a coincidence can surely not be accidental!