The relationship between the United States and the European Union is inevitable and vital, regardless of what both partners think of each other.
For Donald Trump, who is much less naive or inexperienced than he is portrayed, the European Union is a political landscape in which the main players are distracted by domestic and current issues, such as the elections in France, Germany, and possibly in Italy.
Not to mention elections in Hungary (before or after the spring of 2018), Albania (on June 18, 2017), Bulgaria (on March 27, 2017), as well as the French presidential elections scheduled for April 23 next.
It is also worth recalling that very important elections will be held in Germany on September 24, 2017, as well as in the Netherlands on March 15 next, in Norway on September 11 and in Portugal at the end of September. Presidential elections will be held in Serbia on April 30, 2017 and in Slovenia in December 2017. Furthermore local, but very important elections are scheduled for May 4, 2017 in Great Britain.
Not to mention the elections to be held in smaller, but often equally important countries: in Northern Ireland (on March 2, 2017), in Armenia on April 2 next – a possible thorn in the flesh for Russia – and in the Czech Republic – a fundamental asset in the new risiko between NATO, the United States and Russia – on a date to be decided yet in 2018.
In a EU geopolitical neighbourhood perspective, we must also mention the Iranian presidential election on May 19 next, or the Lebanese one which is likely to be held this year although the date has not been set yet.
Hence none of the global players are observing the EU as it currently is – with its Don Quixote-style fanciful approach – but all are awaiting – and endeavouring, where possible – to monitor elections and possibly make their favourite candidates win them.
Everybody has always done so and there is no point in being squeamish.
Who do you think funded Mussolini and his interventionist “Italian People’s Party”? The French intelligence services. Not to mention the October Revolution, set ablaze by Lenin who, in Spiegelgasse 14, Zurich – just a few meters to the famous “Cabaret Voltaire”, the birthplace of the Dadaist movement, of which the Russian revolutionary was never aware – was taken by the German Reich intelligence services and brought from the Zurich-Altstetten Station to the Finland Station in St. Petersburg, as told in the marvellous book by Edmund Wilson, “To the Finland Station, a Study on the Acting and Writing of History”.
Not to mention the Dreyfus affair, a late operation of the French intelligence services which exposed the pro-German network in their own apparata – a network which, on the contrary, worked perfectly in France’s penetration from the North. Finally, we can also mention the extraordinary operation of the Italian Fascist intelligence services in Switzerland that succeeded in fooling the British SOE established in the Canton of Ticino with phantasmagorical and yet credible operations in Genoa.
The “influence operations”, the most refined, sophisticated and significant for each intelligence service, are hard to manage but are often very effective. Everybody carry them out without admitting so.
They are the operations which count in the immaterial accounting of intelligence services.
Therefore there are many open political situations and many actions on the field, on both sides.
The poor wretched EU is currently no longer even able to handle a reasonable action in Libya (and I am referring to Italy, in particular) or a rational management of operations in the Gambia, where the Senegalese armed forces intervened – at the end of last January – to support the new Gambian President, Adama Barrow, against the old leader, Yahya Jammeh, who left with a planeload of luxury cars and money.
The Senegalese intervention in the Gambia was supported by ECOWAS, the Economic Community of the 15 West African States, which has no official relations with any Western country, except for its own representative to the United Nations (namely Mr. Tanouu Koné Leon, with residence in New Rochelle) and its liaison officer to the African Union Commission (namely Ms. Rahemat Momodu, in Addis Ababa) and, finally, its representative to the European Union (namely Mr. Jonas Hemou).
The operation was also military supported by Nigeria and Barrow was ousted directly from Botswana, which stated it no longer recognized him as the Head of the Ghanaian State, but once again we fear that the people of Ghana do not really like the change.
And what about the West? No news received.
An African region always guarded and controlled by the French intelligence services is evaporating in a querelle in which the essential aspect is lost: Ghana is the point from which Kenya can be controlled.
No problem for the Europeans: they think that the “sword jihad” can be stopped by shouting in the streets “Charlie c’est moi”.
And, indeed, this will tragically happen sooner or later.
Hence if currently we do not think of Europe within a larger region and perspective, we will lose the sense and the meaning of what is happening and of what will inevitably happen in the future.
Strategic encirclement, internal destabilization, chronic inability to cope with external influence operations, from whatever side they come.
In President Trump’ strategic thinking, however, the EU is “nothing covered with nothing” – just to paraphrase an old saying by Churchill on Soviet Russia.
In previous years, Barack Obama had noted with some surprise the European policy line during the Ukrainian crisis, with the annexation of Crimea in 2014, which the United States still consider illegal.
In 2015 there was the crisis of migration which, however, has shown an absolute lack of leadership on the part of the European Union.
Not to mention Brexit, a EU real act of strategic and military closure, if strategy and geopolitics ever played a role in Brussels or Strasbourg corridors and meeting rooms.
Just a European economics-oriented half-baked knowledge and beginner’s work, similar to what Marx himself called “trivial Marxism” and that the former USSR dissident, Vladimir Bukovsky – a biophysicist released in 1976 after 12 years spent in Soviet prisons – believed to be increasingly similar to what he experienced in the “wooden language” of the Soviet apparata.
By the way, Bukovsky, who collected the most beautiful and extensive archives of the old Soviet intelligence, was accused of having “searched for” paedophile sites on the Internet. Who knows why…
Indecisiveness and lack of determination, however, are always the major original sin in foreign policy and, from this viewpoint, Europe has committed this sin repeatedly.
Reverting to our considerations on the “agents of influence”, thank goodness in 1984 NATO, and later Helmut Schmidt himself, were alerted by a Milanese executive of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) – who shall remain nameless – that a senior KGB officer had certified the absolutely offensive use of the Soviet SS-20 missiles which, at the time, had 441 launch bases and were much better than the Pershing II missiles, which were later deployed by the Atlantic Alliance with great political difficulties, as well as demonstrations and riots in the streets.
However, as President Trump clearly stated in his interview to the newspaper Bild of January 15 last, in his opinion NATO is “obsolete” and the EU is a “vehicle for Germany” – not to mention the fact that President Trump expects to see another European country soon leaving the European Union.
Although the Atlantic Alliance is obsolete – and in many respects it is really so – the 2017 budget still amounts to 1.29 billion euro, while the civilian budget is worth 234.4 million euro.
The criteria for defining contributions are carefully defined on the basis of tables drafted jointly by all the Member States of the Alliance.
Saying that the United States “pay too much” only means that they are not satisfied with the cost-benefit ratio within NATO, and not that the EU members of the Alliance should pay more for operations which ultimately serve only the US geopolitical interests.
Therefore the problem lies not so much in the financial and accounting cost of the Atlantic Alliance, but in the relationship between this cost and the value of the strategic result we plan to achieve by mutual agreement, which is the NATO geopolitical least common denominator.
EUCOM, namely the US-NATO European Command, covers 51 countries and has two traditional geopolitical goals: the actual separation between the Western Eurasian peninsula, namely Europe, and the Eurasian Heartland and control over the largest economic market of the world, namely Europe’s.
As Brzezinski used to say, the US strategic aim in this context is to break the continuity between the Eurasian central mass and the Asian Sino-Slavic centre.
Currently the Atlantic Resolve operation, based in Wroclaw, Poland and in Bulgaria, with 2,800 German tanks and artillery units and some US brigades, shows pressures from the United States – and in different degrees from Germany – on the Russian Federation, in clear correlation with the Russian actions in Crimea and Ukraine.
Furthermore, a few days ago Putin started to facilitate the granting of Russian documents to the citizens of the Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.
This means that Russia has already lost its patience with Trump and is prepared to raise the level of confrontation – a level that has a visible profile and an invisible profile.
Pressures from Poland and Bulgaria which relate to the US and NATO operations in the Baltic countries, with 4,000 US soldiers and a group of CIA operatives to reassure the new independent countries of the region and close Russia northwards.
Is it a rational strategy? Yes and no. The Russian Federation should know that the expansion of its “influence” is not accepted in the EU, but that Europe intends to negotiate a new multipolar balance with Russia.
And here the issue does not lie in “trivial Marxism”, in trade ties disrupted or in export blocks.
If NATO remains the Cold War ghost, we are no longer interested in it.
Conversely if it is turned into a means of military pressure and threat, and even of influence, for dangerous areas (the Greater Middle East, Central and Southern Asia, Northern and Central Africa), it will still be the extraordinary instrument we knew until 1989.
GIANCARLO ELIA VALORI
Honorable de l’Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France