[Marxism] more on Nato

John Reimann 1999wildcat at gmail.com
Wed Nov 13 10:14:46 MST 2019

Following up on my recent article, here's a column from today's Wall St.
Journal. It too shows that a radical shake-up of world capitalist relations
seems to be in the offing. Such a shake-up cannot happen without major
global conflict - including possible wars - as well as domestic political
crises. (One detail: I think the difference in strategy between French and
German capitalism lies in their geographical difference. Germany faces a
potential rival - Russian capitalism. Also, Germany still has to contend
with the anti-military sentiment that developed after the Nazis and still
exists.) Here's the full article:

NATO is brain-dead. So said French President Emmanuel Macron in an
interview published last week.

He’s not wholly wrong. A generation after the collapse of communism, the
Western alliance that won the Cold War is adrift and confused. The
trans-Atlantic gap is wider than ever, and the fissures between
Brexit-minded Britain, Gaullist France and an increasingly powerful Germany
seem to deepen and grow from year to year.

Mr. Macron’s description of Europe’s current predicament is brutally frank.
With the U.S. losing interest in NATO (a shift Mr. Macron believes predates
the Trump administration), Europe can no longer count on American
protection as much as it did in the past. Intensifying U.S.-China
competition leaves Europe high and dry; neither China nor the U.S. seems
particularly interested in what Europe wants or thinks.

In its own neighborhood, Mr. Macron believes Europe is almost helpless
before rival powers like Russia and Turkey. Europe’s continuing failure to
develop its own Silicon Valley means that the continent risks losing
control of its own future. Dependent on American or Chinese tech giants,
Europe won’t be able to guarantee the security of its own data or
communications. Meanwhile, even as a rigid adherence to outdated ideas
about fiscal austerity limits the growth of the eurozone economies, the EU
has overstressed the market side of the European project, and paid too
little attention to the concept of “community.”

If Mr. Macron’s diagnosis of Europe’s woes is grim, his remedies are
traditionally French. Since the time of Charles de Gaulle, French
presidents have argued that Europe needs to reduce its dependence on NATO,
place the development of European welfare systems and industrial champions
ahead of an “excessive” adherence to market ideology, privilege deepening
European integration at the expense of expanding the union, and convert the
ramshackle, often ineffective governance structures of the EU into the kind
of sleek and effective state machine that Louis XIV or Napoleon would
admire. Germany has always resisted these ideas, but Mr. Macron hopes that
the shock of the anti-EU, unpredictable Trump presidency will stir Berlin
at long last to support the French blueprint for a strong Europe.

That doesn’t seem to be happening. The sense that the U.S. is no longer the
responsible power that Germany has relied on for 70 years has shaken German
politics to the core. But not even Trump Shock seems to be enough to push
the German establishment into embracing France’s European vision. At a
speech last week at the Bundeswehr University in Munich, Chancellor Angela
Merkel’s designated successor, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer
(often known as AKK), made clear that even in these new and challenging
circumstances, Germany remains committed to NATO and the trans-Atlantic

This is partly because many German politicians believe that the Trump
administration isn’t the last word on American foreign policy. Moreover,
any sign that Germany supported a European drift away from NATO would cause
a crisis for Poland and the Baltic states. France may be prepared to ignore
their disquiet in the interest of a European grand strategy, but for both
historical and practical reasons, Germany can’t deal with its eastern
neighbors that harshly.

AKK presented an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary view of German
foreign policy. Change will be incremental, but real. Defense spending will
increase, but will reach the NATO target of 2% of GDP only in 2031. Germany
must develop a stronger awareness of its strategic interests, she declared.
It may even have to use military force more frequently abroad and
participate in security activities as far afield as the Indo-Pacific.

Europe’s real problem isn’t that the French or Germans are brain-dead, but
that they don’t agree—on the basic shape of the EU, on its defense policy,
on its foreign-policy priorities. These disagreements don’t make progress
on important EU issues impossible, but they make the process of reforming
the union painfully slow, and they limit what can be done. To add to the
complication, establishment political parties in both countries must
increasingly fend off populist parties that bring very different ideas into
the foreign-policy debate.

On the American side, the debate is also confused. The bipartisan
foreign-policy establishment remains committed to NATO and to European
defense, but it isn’t clear how strongly the presidential candidate of
either party in 2020 will uphold this consensus. As concern about China
grows across the American political spectrum, what roles will NATO and
Europe play in U.S. strategy?

While President Macron is to some degree concern-trolling an alliance that
has always been a problem for France, he is right that the status quo is in
deep trouble. Those who believe in the importance of the West cannot take
its cohesion for granted. To survive, the trans-Atlantic alliance must
adapt to the rapidly changing world.

*“In politics, abstract terms conceal treachery.” *from "The Black
Jacobins" by C. L. R. James
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