2018 New Years Eve Forecast (What’s this?)
Honestly, the EU has a lot more to fear from Russia and Brexit than the US. And that’s not discounting the severity of trade wars or military alliance disputes, but simply recognizing the enormity of Brexit and Russia as issues for the EU.
In my view EU is in the same problem state the US was when it was under the Articles of Confederation, prior to the Constitution. A bunch of sovereign states playing ‘let’s pretend’ at being a federal sovereign entity. That structure however doesn’t work very well in the world anymore – especially as superpowers and regional powers emerge (Russia, Iran, Turkey, China, India, US)…no single EU country can punch at the weight of those players. And with the US distancing on several key fronts under President Trump’s isolationism it really drives home that EU’s traditional Fight Club buddy (namely us) may not be standing by it in the future. But this is broader than just international and military relations. The failure of Greece represented the limits of a common currency with uncommon economies/fiscal policies – and there is still heavy resentment in Germany over what it feels is “bailing out” the profligacy of the southern states. If we go into another major recession (which I think we will in 2019-2020…surprised no one asked me about that) then one of the PIIGS is going down again. And that’s just going to exacerbate the existing divides within the EU.
I realize this is more about the EU than the US relationship with the EU – but think of each of these issues where the US may have played a positive role now being another reminder that its once traditional ally is no longer interested. IMO for President Trump the “EU” is no more ‘real’ to him than Mexican families – they’re all caricatured punching bags he can hit over and over again to score points with his base, realities be damned. So that aggravation is going to come up repeatedly on EU and US issues.
Add to this the EU’s activist nature when it comes to private corporations and I think there may be some (at the margins) reluctance of how companies participate in the EU from abroad. Not that big companies will avoid it – they have to play in that market – but it’s going to create a calculus of cost, just like operating in China does currently.
So, these two trends – increasing isolationism/aggravation from the US as the EU goes through some rough patches and declining overseas interest in private companies investing in the EU may mean a rocky two years for US-EU relations
Well this one also wasn’t hard to see around the corner. EU relations with the US have gone from bad to worse during the year the last adults left the White House after the resignation of SECDEF Mattis and the loss of Chief of Staff Kelley. The trade wars, already underway haven’t ceased with mutual tariffs still being imposed between both trading blocs. In addition, this year we’ve seen the EU distance itself from the White House on Iran, opening up a wedge in the coalition President Obama built to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions. There’s also been numerous instances of EU member states, either individually or as a group, willing to go without the US which has led to very public spats at G6 and other organizing fora in the last year.
And it’s not that the European Union doesn’t have its own hands full. With the potential of Brexit finally materializing there’s going to be other countries that want to give it a go – or at least strong nativist movements complicating domestic politics on that front. Euroscepticism remains a potent force fueled both by nationalism, populism, and (apparently) the death of the memory of what happened to smaller European states when fending for themselves in the Great Power Game of the late 19th and early 20th Century.
That’s the part that confuses me. I can understand the argument that local control appears at times better than a distant bureaucracy. But it begs the question “local control of what?” Without unifying further, especially with the departure of the United Kingdom most states in the EU outside of France and Germany, maybe Spain (by distance) don’t stand much of a chance against the regional hegemons rising to their east. And it’s no longer just Russia seeking to reestablish the outer boundaries of the USSR and making ugly-faces along a line stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea. In my post about Libya I described the expansionist policies of Erdogan in Turkey coming into the underbelly of the Mediterranean. And with Syria now secured the Russian and Iranian naval bases in Latakia and Tartarus can now go fully online as soon as heavy rail lines are complete. All this previews a configuration of geopolitical affairs in Europe that looks more like 16th-19th Century than it does the latter half of the 20th.
Running Total: 9.5 out of 12