The People’s Republic of China’s rise in economic, technological and military power and at the same the time, the transformation of its regime from authoritarian to totalitarian is the first threat to the free world and therefore to Europe in terms of preserving a global environment based on freedom (and freedoms).
The second is the strengthening of the Russian Federation’s power to destroy and destabilise, a power which does not translate so much into a new military threat to the Union since the NATO cooperation, which is important and strategic, has been renewed. But rather it has a very strong capacity to harm the interests of the European Union (and its member States) not only in its immediate vicinity, notably in Ukraine, Belarus, the South Caucasus, the Middle East and the Maghreb, but also in Africa.
Faced with these two major and real security threats, the members of the Union are largely divided. For many of them, the reaction is the same as it was during the Cold War: some are convinced that they should engage in a defence strategy against the Soviet predecessor, a defence strategy organised by and around the United States. Other member states, on the other hand, prefer to be “passive”. The change in the nature of the Russian threat seems to elude them. This is no longer a direct threat to the territorial integrity of member states requiring a defence policy, which is adequately provided by NATO. It now comes in terms of a direct threat to the strategic interests of the Union and its member states, new threats that require answers in terms of security policy. One of the strategic interests of the Union and its member states is also the need to preserve the political integrity of the Union and thus to counter the internal destabilisation within member states, as well as those aimed at challenging the validity of the existence of the Union through the usual, traditional means (corruption, acquisitions, disinformation, etc.) and through more modern techniques (cybernetics, etc.).
In particular, the Russian Federation pursues a policy aimed at strengthening its control over the energy supply routes of the countries of the Union. This is true in the eastern countries of the Union, with the construction of the Nord Stream 2, increasing the direct dependence of the Union on Russia while weakening Ukraine, a key country in Eastern Europe and an important transit route for Russian gas. But this is also true in the southern countries of the Union. Russia has indeed emerged as a major winner of the recent war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, strengthening its capabilities to block the Baku-Tbilisi-Black Sea 1 corridor and a possible Baku-Armenia-Turkey corridor through its presence in Nagorno-Karabakh. Likewise, through the considerable strengthening of its military presence in Syria, it has for many years impeded any project to build oil or gas pipelines linking the Arabian Peninsula via Syria directly to the Mediterranean, at the same time equipping itself with the ability to intervene directly and in a very short time throughout the Mediterranean, starting with Libya.
The shift of focus to the Pacific, the US’ big shift, which began under the Obama Administration and continued under President Trump, is nothing more than a shift of seeing the threat from Moscow to Beijing. In other words, it is neither a manifestation of the United States’ disinterest in Europe, even less so as their abandonment of Europe. Europeans would be well advised to understand this and stop acting like a spurned lover. This big shift concerns them, too for at least two reasons:
Like the United States, it is vital for Europe to defend freedom in all its forms, including the free movement of people and goods in the Pacific. The second is more specifically European. This is the need for an awareness regarding the Union and its member states that the European Union is de jure (Reunion and Mayotte) or de facto (French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Scattered Islands, …) a “power” of the Pacific.
If these presumptions are accurate, it should result in the following:
The goal of the NATO member States to allocate 2% of their budgets to the defence effort cannot be considered a whim or a focal point of the United States. This is a logical consequence of the need for the United States to allot considerable financial resources for defence as a strategic priority whose focus is now on the Pacific.
This shift of focus and the shift in the order of US military-political priorities should lead the EU to strengthen its autonomous intervention capabilities in order to be able to respond to threats to its security in the neighbouring countries (Middle East, Caucasus and Maghreb). In the light of a failure of all initiatives to integrate diplomatic and military measures on a national basis in recent decades, this indispensable European security policy can only be based on common political, diplomatic and military measures, starting from and around a common European army.
The shift of the focus of the security threat is expected to lead to the transformation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization into an alliance for the defence of freedom through its expansion to the democratic countries of the Pacific, particularly Japan, Australia, Indonesia, South Korea and New Zealand. The question of Turkey’s membership in this new international security organisation should be raised.
Finally, by preventing another Pearl Harbour, whether by Americans or Europeans, the question of the Union’s involvement in the political and military efforts in the face of the new strategic threat in the Pacific should be addressed. As we have pointed out, if Europe (and not just one of its member states) is indeed an important player in the Pacific, it should give itself the means to be able to participate, as John R. Bolton 2 suggested, in the political and military efforts to preserve freedom in that part of the world. In view of the extent of the challenge, it would be in the interest of all Europeans for them to participate not individually, but through a common security policy and a common tool: a common European army.
(Translation: Leah Buhain)
- Following the 2008 war supported by the Russian Federation between Georgia and South Ossetia, Russian forces endorsed cutting off Georgia from the South Ossetian and Abkhaz territories by recognising their independence and consequently integrating them within the Russian security zone. They are now only a few kilometers from the Baku-Tbilisi-Black Sea and/or Erzurum gas pipeline. ↩
- Former National Security Advisor under George W. Bush, 2001-2005 ↩