Euro-Atlantic Relations in an Era of New US Isolationism

The US trajectory can be characterised as a transition to an overtly isolationist policy, one that has deep roots in America and corresponds with the specific attitude of most Americans. Trump now personifies this older tradition of the American people, the Jacksonian one.

Trump’s National Security Strategy of December 2017 tasks the military-industrial complex with re-industrialising America, specifically the manufacturing sector. Accordingly, NATO is turning into a business project. Moreover, the Alliance is serving to ensure that the American presence in Europe remains, as a double deterrence – not only against Russia, but also against Germany.

The objectives of the Trump administration policy extend beyond this. The attitude towards the EU is changing radically. First, the very existence of the EU as a supranational structure (and, of course, a global competitor) contradicts Trump’s foreign policy philosophy, which sees the world consisting of independent sovereign states competing with each other (this is also mentioned in the Strategy). Although the elite is resisting Trump, the Americans, essentially, are terminating their imperial global order, which in the form of globalisation “contributed” to the rise of everyone else, primarily China. They are switching to “manual control”, so-called “transactional diplomacy” in the hopes that they can wring competitors out one by one, using their natural advantages (access to the US market, privileged status of the dollar, et cetera). Brexit also fits this strategy, because it serves to strengthen centrifugal tendencies in the EU, leading to its “soft” dismantling to the level of an ordinary common market, or even collapse.

Second, Trump does not hide his belief that the “soft” euro is a means by which Berlin is engaging in currency manipulation, because otherwise the German mark would be much stronger (as economists believe, doubly so), which would seriously weaken the competitive position of the Germans. Washington has already adopted this line of thinking in its approach to China. However, the EU and Germany are next in line. The problem is that the EU was originally created at the suggestion of the Americans to contain and/or weaken Germany. In reality, the EU and the Eurozone have led to the economic dominance of Berlin in Europe, reviving the German Question, which seemed to be closed, but has now opened again in a purely economic dimension. Even German experts admit that Berlin is at the head of its own “accidental empire” (some even speak of a “Fourth, Economic Reich”).

Accordingly, we can talk about the use of the US bloc discipline as a tool of “unfair competition,” of which Washington blames everyone else. Hence the anti-Russia policy, including sanctions. Thus, the Europeans were trapped in anti-Russian policies, where they participated themselves. An additional means of pressure on the allies are privileged relations with the countries of the so-called “new Europe” (this term was launched by Tony Blair, when Berlin and Paris did not support the war in Iraq), the countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

Third, there are signs that the US is losing out in terms of technological superiority, as evidenced by the scandalous state of the F-35 project, which is being imposed on resisting allies; Boeing 737MAX-related problems; China’s recognised leadership in the development of artificial intelligence. This explains the line toward the technological isolation of China, at least within the circle of Western countries. The primary example is the case of Huawei with respect to 5G communications.

The China Dilemma
Mary Dejevsky
The Huawei dilemma highlights in the starkest way the dilemmas that the UK will face after Brexit. On the one hand, it will be in the market for bilateral trade deals, with China and the United States at the top of the list because of the size of their economies and the potential for growth.
Expert Opinions

Therefore, the geopolitical configuration of the Euro-Atlantic region has begun to resemble a layer cake, which opens up opportunities for Moscow to reconsider its relationship with Western Europe, from a policy standpoint. I do not think that we need to somehow interfere in inter-allied relations in the West. It is enough to know how these affairs stand, and to be able to wait. In the end, the trajectory of the US can be characterised as a transition to an overtly isolationist policy, one that has deep roots in America and corresponds with the specific attitude of most Americans. Another thing is that in the post-war period, the US elite became fascinated with empire-building, and as we say, lost touch with the public. Trump now personifies this older tradition of the American people (the Jacksonian one – hearkening back to the “populist” president Andrew Jackson, who was like Trump). Sometimes, the time comes for a radical “reappraisal of values”; Russia has managed to do it in the past, and this is a serious advantage of its foreign policy and diplomacy. 

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.