The West Is in Disarray, and It Will Only Get Worse


by Eric Zuesse, Strategic Culture:

We are witnessing the withdrawal from Syria of the American military contingent, protests in France, the prospect of a British hard Brexit, the political decline of Angela Merkel in Germany, Netanyahu in crisis, and Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia suddenly becoming an international pariah. The contemporary crisis of leadership in Europe, the United States and among their main allies has thrown the West into chaos, leading it to one of its most critical junctures in recent decades. It is a situation brought on by the United States and its contradictory politics, which results in diminishing the sovereignty and decision-making power of Washington’s allies.

Well before the election of Donald Trump, European Union leaders Merkel, Cameron and Hollande were already faltering and evidencing signs of failure.

Hollande fell in the polls because of policies favoring the interests of the elites at the expense of the increasingly poor and indebted French population. Cameron, to stave off a Labour victory under Jeremy Corbyn, promised a vote on Brexit, a decision that would eventually end up costing him his political career. Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, the undisputed master of the German political scene, suffered for the first time in fifteen years heavy electoral defeats stemming from recent migration policies. The Chancellor, harshly criticized for these results, resigned from the position of president of the party, leaving the CDU split into two factions. The situation worsened in the UK and France over the next twelve months, with Cameron resigning following the Brexit vote and Hollande forced to give up on the the idea of ​​running for reelection given his unpopularity.

Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron then replaced Cameron and Hollande. Macron immediately committed to revolutionizing French politics, promising a French renaissance. May (with a view to sabotaging it) promised to negotiate vigorously with the EU to obtain the best possible conditions for the UK’s Brexit, scheduled for March 2019. Both have acted contrary to their promises, sealing their political fates.

Meanwhile in the United States there has been strong jostling between the political-financial-war elites for the dominance of Trump’s foreign policy. The President, either out of inexperience, ineptitude or intentionally, soon succumbed to the foreign-policy establishment, with its usual offerings of neoliberalism and brutal imperialism. Trump’s weaponized use of the dollar thereby ended up in an unintended blue-on-blue attack, with Trump’s money bags, Saudi Arabia and Israel, receiving some friendly fire in addition to the intended targets, Iran, Russia and China. An understanding between Trump and the foreign-policy establishment has therefore been reached, sealed with the appointments of Bolton and Pompeo, establishing a modus vivendi between competing interests.

This dogma of neoliberalism and brutal imperialism espoused by the foreign-policy establishment is at the heart of the problems between the United States and the rest of the world, Europe especially, only serving to accelerate the transition to a multipolar world order, about which I wrote the day after Trump’s victory. Neoliberalism and American exceptionalism are now entrenched in an “America First” policy, combining the worst elements of US imperialism and the interests of the financier oligarchy.

Washington’s adoption of aggressive economic policies, aimed at draining resources from allies while simultaneously isolating its enemies, has further accentuated the differences between Europe and the US. The use of tariffs and customs duties, combined with sanctions against Moscow and Tehran, have ended up distancing Macron from Trump, placing the French president firmly in the liberal-globalist camp, standing shoulder to shoulder with Merkel. May is isolated, criticized by virtually everyone — Brussels, Trump, Merkel — and especially by Corbyn in Parliament.

May finds herself managing a situation beyond her, with a total failure of the British negotiating position with the EU. The closer we get to March 29, the more the British media like the BBC will holler about the catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit, the prospect of which is very likely given that May has done everything possible to sabotage the negotiation process with the EU. The aim is to convince the population that it is not only legitimate but above all else necessary to revoke the request for implementation of Article 50 of the EU in order to avoid the catastrophe of a hard Brexit. It is a perfect example of how the elite create a problem (intentionally failing the negotiations for Brexit) to justify acting in a certain direction, contrary to what the population has voted for.

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