Crucial Questions for Europe Related to External Relations and its Place in World

european union

Europe is passing through difficult times when, due to a complex of factors, several uncomfortable issues which could remain under the carpet in normal times are getting blown up in such ways that these cannot be ignored but at the same the leadership is finding it difficult to face them in a decisive way.

Of course the news headlines here recently have spoken more about the various protests and struggles on internal issues which are genuine issues of concern for people who face more economic difficulties, but from a longer term perspective some questions of external relations for European Union and for various countries of Europe may turn out to be even more important. Of course it is also true that internal and external issues, domestic and foreign policy issues can never really be separated from each other as one set of issues invariably impact the other.

A very important issue for Europe is whether it has become too heavily dependent on decisions taken by others outside Europe. In this context the more specific reference is USA’s relationship and whether it is becoming too dominating– to the extent that Europe is not able to decide its interests and priorities in a free manner. Of course most European countries are members of NATO and therefore have been used to seeing their security concerns to be integrated with the USA. Nevertheless it is a matter of great concern whether Europe’s right to choose what is best for its safety, peace and prosperity remains in its hands, or whether this freedom has been compromised because of a more dominating attitude of the USA. If such freedom is lost, then this is a very serious matter.

Earlier also questions had risen in the context of the relentless, non-rational and extremely violent pursuit of the so-called war on terror by the USA– whether the support sought from several European allies for invasion of Iraq or for other interventions had been provided willingly or reluctantly.

Now such concerns are growing as the costs of pursuing some policies wanted by the USA for safety, security, peace and prosperity of most countries of Europe may be higher. No doubt the pragmatic people and their leaders may be weighing what they are losing in the process of their growing submission before the USA against the gains of being close to the USA with all its military might. But in any case, if the greater part of Europe or the European Union or some of the leading west European countries lose the freedom to take key decisions with full and fair consideration of what are their best interests, then this loss would surely be big enough to outweigh any gains.

Something similar to this may actually be happening which finds public manifestation not very directly but more in terms of the anger of the people against their increasing problems in daily life, for example in the context of higher energy costs or increasing unemployment caused by the shutdowns in some industries.

Europe after all is more used to seeing itself in terms of playing an important role in world affairs and being reduced to a situation where it cannot take decisions on the basis of its perceived best interests in the matters of its own safety, peace and economy would be a big comedown.

The situation may in fact be worse and even the basic democratic freedom of at least placing all the known facts of any important issue on table, and having a free debate on the basis of all the known facts is now being denied in the continent which is supposed to be the champion of freedom of expression and knowledge-based free debates. Look at the Nord Stream sabotage debate where even senior persons and leaders appear to be running away from or hiding from the real facts, but how can proper decisions be taken without facing the facts?

As the world appears to be increasingly divided between two power blocks, there is the question of whether the European Union and its member countries have already decided firmly to be on the side of the USA and so the option of being with the non-aligned world has been completely rejected. Is being on the side of the USA in its growing confrontation with Russia and China necessarily the best option for the European Union, or will it expose its countries to avoidable high risks? Which role is more consistent with the wider objective of world peace—being a part of a power block or joining forces with the non-aligned world?

Can Europe contribute more to world peace by being very united in trying its best to persuade the USA from moving away from its violent path of trying to dominate the entire world, and instead adopting a policy of peace and co-existence? If Europe succeeds in such an effort, it will earn endless gratitude of entire world and future generations as well. If it fails then should it tell the USA clearly that it will not be a party to the USA’s wars or violent quest for dominance.

As uniting and integrating Europe has been the thinking behind the European Union and related efforts, how rational it is to leave out the largest country (in terms of area as well as population) entirely outside such efforts? Is Russia really the great threat it is made out to be? Is it not possible to evolve a relationship at least of peaceful co-existence? By ruling out this option isn’t unity and peace of Europe being harmed immensely? Europe suffered so much in two world wars, should it not strive the most to avoid becoming a central point if big-power conflict? Shouldn’t Europe’s undoubted capabilities be focused now to promote peace, with all sincerity and honesty?

These are questions which should be debated widely, wisely, sincerely and honestly. Europe must assert its right to choose the path which best serves its needs of peace, safety and economic progress, in conformity with requirements of peace with justice at world level. Europe must choose this path carefully, then walk on it courageously.

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, A Day in 2071, Protecting Earth for Children and Earth without Borders.


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