In the last of our articles focusing on US President Donald Trump’s recent meetings across Europe, Europa United Editor Christos Mouzeviris is convinced that we should pay equal attention to the US and Russian presidents when it comes to potential threats to European stability.
Ever since Donald Trump was elected in 2016 as the 45th President of the USA, there has been continuing allegations regarding his connections with Moscow and the potential “meddling” of Russia in the US Presidential elections. The same rumours circulated after the British EU membership referendum’s outcome, which resulted in Brexit. And of course, in every gain and advance of anti-establishment or populist parties throughout Europe, Russia and its President Vladimir Putin has been accused of financing, interfering or both.
To make matters worse, the aftermath of the Trump Putin meeting in Helsinki at a summit last week, caused further outcry from his opponents back in America and throughout Europe. The two leaders are increasingly being seen as enemies of the West, liberalism, free trade, the EU or NATO and the current status quo or balance of power in the world.
Consequently, a summit between these two men sent shock-waves across both side of the Atlantic, especially after the announcement of a potential follow up meeting in the US. Many spoke of treason by President Trump, while others expressed anti-Russian sentiments, often portraying President Putin as the arch-enemy of Europe and the West, seeking to destroy it from within.
But let’s put things into a perspective for a moment. Since when has Europe become so defeatist? If Vladimir Putin has indeed such power to infiltrate and influence America from the inside, then we are acknowledging him to be the true “planetarch,” – the leader of this world. We are also accepting America and Europe’s decline and submission to Russia, since all of the current problems we are facing can be attributed to its “meddling” and financing. If Russian “trolls” have so much power that they can infiltrate our societies and alter totally our perceptions, election results or influencing our ruling elites, then the West has lost the battle already, right?
But are we sure that our governments haven’t already got their own “trolls” or agents to do the same to Russia or other regions of the world, or counterpart Russian propaganda and cyber warfare? As if the West hasn’t influenced or meddled itself in the collapse of the USSR or Yugoslavia, the war in Libya, Iraq, now Syria and so on. We are not totally unprepared or unfamiliar with such threats, or style of hostilities. The reality is that we are caught in an ongoing conflict. One that is about spheres of influence and of course the relevant resources. However the world is changing as it should have already, but many are resisting this new reality and are trying to find excuses or the cause, in lieu of grasping the opportunity to prepare for a different future.
Instead of looking at the reasons why the voters are turning to people like Trump or any populist politician or party, our leaders are trying to scapegoat Russia and Vladimir Putin for everything. In order of course, to discredit these outsiders in our politics and perhaps turn the devotion of the voters, back towards the establishment parties. Yet they have to understand that they are giving too much attention and power to the so called “enemies” of ours. If Vladimir Putin is indeed the worse threat that Europe is facing nowadays, then we are certainly giving him all that he wants, together with all the attention and credit, as the man who can defeat the West and destroy our continent.
Putin’s Russia might indeed have certain interests in the weakening or altering of the EU and the Western world in its current form, but if it has gained the power to be the sole perpetrator then we should admit defeat and declare it the world’s new superpower. Maybe our ruling elites do not like the shift of power in our countries, which is after all, the result of decades of mistakes, negligence and corruption by their part and so now they seek to turn the tide again in their favour, by scapegoating the Russians; as they have done so many times before during the Cold War.
Perhaps if we want to find a more serious threat, we should start looking within our union and of course, to the other side of the Atlantic. Trump’s recent stance towards Europe shows clearly a shift in America’s interests towards our continent and this cannot be blamed on Russia. Donald Trump might be very bad news for the environment, our liberal societies, immigration, world trade and globalisation in its current form. But Trump grabbed the opportunity to rule, because of the mistakes that America’s former governments have committed. He sticks to his electoral promises and pushes for a new world order, one that serves the interests of those who he represents. And no, these are not necessarily the ordinary Americans.
Now many in the US and Europe might not agree and fear the changes that are about to come, as they will either personally lose out, or they truly wish to maintain the current world status. Thus they are counter attacking with linking Trump to treason, espionage, Putin, or the Russian “trolls” and oligarchs. But Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin won’t be always leaders of their nations, yet the damage that this stance will do to our continent will last longer than their service as presidents.
Those who promote this Russo-phobia, are contributing to the enfeebling image of Europe and America, while portraying it as one region of turmoil, crisis, weakness and lesser importance to the world. The beast fights harder when it knows is about to die, so maybe the West’s obsessive hysteria with scapegoating and fighting foreign enemies, shows a deep insecurity, decline and weakness. Instead, Europe should continue reaching out to the rest of the world, seeking bettering relations with other blocks and emerging nations and yes, even Russia. The best answer to those who want to undermine the EU-either from outside or within-would be to continuously work together as a group of nations, leading by example and engaging with all countries, friendly or not so.
Besides, Trump and Putin’s plans for Europe could in fact turn out to be to our benefit. If they continue to pressure on, our continent might just be forced to come out of America’s shadow even more united out of necessity, becoming itself a political power, not just a trade and financial one. We only have to start believing it ourselves.