And it is because of this that, increasingly, from the Middle East to Russia, it appears the interests of the Western allies are going in different directions.
And What If Barack Obama Were Right?
And what if the West were no longer one, as the mantra went after 9/11 and was repeated at the time of the coalition war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, with the mysterious Mullah Omar’s Afghanistan and, even more unexpectedly, with the tragic Colonel Gaddafi’s Libya?
The Interests of the USA Are Different than Europe’s
Of course, because the impression circulating among many Western — or rather, European — analysts is that the president of the United States, despite the mediocre picture of foreign policy he is painting, is in reality acting in his own country’s interests — which, however, no longer coincide with the interests of European countries and which, to a certain extent, are drifting away from and even contradicting them.
Just look at the results of America’s apparent policy of progressive withdrawal from the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean conflicts.
Just look at the state in which the European Union finds itself today in its global projection, compared to America’s state of grace.
Beginning With Europe
The European countries are divided against each other over virtually everything: migration, relations with Moscow, Libya, the Palestinian-Israeli crisis, Greece.
Even when a unified position is finally settled on, it emerges out of wearisome negotiations, which give rise to non-decisions or short-lived compromises that substitute diplomatic formulas for essential choices.
Moreover, Europe, victim of itself and its own indecisions and divisions, is at the mercy of a migratory exodus, threats from the Islamic State, internal crises (Greece) and the crumbling of outer borders (Russia-Ukraine).
In fact, the once-stable world that existed before the disastrous Arab Springs has turned into a trash heap of countries, which have collapsed one after the other without re-emerging with a new, democratic and strongly unified image.
The Islamic State group’s terror rages. Meanwhile, the sanctions against Moscow, which the United States so particularly desired, are penalizing a potentially enormous exchange market between the EU and Russia — worth about $1.1 billion a year for Italy. Not counting the consequences for energy.
On the southeastern flank, Erdogan’s Islamist Turkey and Tsipras’ post-communist Greece threaten the European Union’s stability. Europe is still debating its energy supply problems, while enduring financial colonization from the Gulf. It is also, internally, suffering from a deep economic crisis despite the German powerhouse.
On the international scene, Europe is politically non-existent.
And the United States, on the other hand? It has achieved energy self-sufficiency and thus does not depend on oil and gas from other countries — namely, the Gulf. It can be therefore relatively disinterested in what happens in the Middle East and concentrate instead on the dynamics of the Asian markets, the most promising and — as they say in the States — the most “challenging.” As demanding as they are challenging.
Obama has claimed not to have a Middle East strategy, but it is precisely this apparent absence of an unambiguous strategy that is, in a way, a strategy.
The Obama philosophy of regional balance, which also includes governments that were once labeled [part of] “the axis of evil,” legitimizes even the Islamic fringes of the Muslim Brotherhood — the United States supported Morsi and disapproved of el-Sissi’s systems — just as it legitimizes Iran by means of the Vienna nuclear agreement. And every time, there is agreement that Obama does not have to become ensnared in the political quagmire of an army fighting on the ground in Syria or Iraq, with deaths and kidnappings, but no certain prospects of victory.
In a divided world, Europe — by its very nature fragmented — has everything to lose; and while America’s suspension of its Atlantic strategies aimed at stabilizing Europe, the Middle East and the Mediterranean is itself seen as a strategy, the absence of a European common vision is only chaos, Babel, anarchy.
The question is: What game is Barack Obama playing? And most importantly: Are we as intrinsically and coherently allied — we Europeans and the Americans — as we once were?