In the best case scenario, with Joe Biden winning the White House in five months, the ties between Europe and the United States must be renewed on the basis of at least five self-evident truths, without which nothing can be built.
We must urgently rebuild an alliance. It is a must because our relations are too old, too deep and too essential to both the United States and Europe for those ties to be allowed to unravel even further. It is a must because so many fires are smoldering across the world that they force us to act together before the blaze spreads everywhere. It is a must because the rule of law, the Enlightenment and international collaboration are overtly contested by an ever growing number of governments and political movements. It is a must because the European Union is still far from being able to do without the protection of the United States. In short, it is a must for the stability of the world, the defense of democracy and of our own security as Europeans, but is there still time to achieve this, and how?
If Donald Trump were to be reelected in November, the answer would be beyond doubt. It would hardly be possible in this case to strengthen our ties, for this man’s ambition would remain to weaken the EU and certainly not to recognize it as a partner to be treated as equal to the United States. There would even be a strong chance that, at the expense of Europeans, he would end up cozying up to China, Russia or both, dictatorships he is culturally closer to than democracies from the Old Continent. A second Trump term would damage trans-Aatlantic relations to such an extent that we would be left with no other choice than to shift into high gear on the road to a common defense; fortunately, the defeat of the Democratic Party is far from certain.
Given the incompetence the incumbent president in handling the pandemic and the awakening of Americans’ great potential for compassion — through the murder of George Floyd — Joe Biden has a real chance of reaching the White House. With him, then, a new America would take over, driven by a desire for equity on the national stage as well as in the international arena, sustained by the spirit of universalism of the current demonstrations and a willingness to pick up the pieces with the Europeans in order to weigh in and act with us and not alone.
From Ankara to Beijing, Moscow or Tehran, many a situation could thus shift as early as next winter. Thanks to the unrivaled power that Americans and Europeans represent together, we could soon turn a new page for the world, but we must prepare for this historic opportunity by reminding Democrats of five self-evident truths,outside of which nothing will be accomplished.
The first is that we perfectly understand that the United States is no longer willing to be the world’s policeman and no longer thinks it should finance our defense in our stead. This is purely logical, but if America wishes to withdraw from Europe and the Middle East to better tackle the Chinese challenge, it must no longer stand in the way of creating a European defense system and transforming the Atlantic Alliance into an alliance between two equal powers, one American and one European. The new America must not only be open to this evolution, but it must convince those European capitals that are closest to Washington that this is the only way to ensure lasting and deepening ties between both sides of the Atlantic.
The second of these five self-evident truths is that we must work together to stabilize relations between the Russian Federation and the European Union because we have a common interest in preventing a united stand between China and Russia, and in ensuring that Russia ceases its disruptive activities in Europe. With the United States included and at its forefront, the Atlantic Alliance must also offer Moscow an exchange of the guarantee that NATO will not extend to the borders of Russia for a guarantee that Russia will respect new European borders, the independence of the governments that emerged from the Soviet collapse and their political sovereignty.
The third self-evident truth for a new America to remember is that democracies cannot defend and promote the rule of law and international collaboration if, on their end, they don’t commit themselves to respecting international treaties, human rights, international justice and their own commitment, within their borders and everywhere.
The fourth truth is that it is only together, with a common message, that we must bring China to understand that its resurgence compels it to respect the stability of Asia, Hong Kong’s autonomy and Taiwan’s independence on the one hand, and environmental, social and financial norms to ensure fair trade on the other.
Finally, the fifth self-evident truth for a new America to remember is that the United States cannot show itself less eager than Europe to fight against global warming and less ready to bring this imperative to bear on its commercial trade. Five self-evident truths, five months…. Now is the time to call Joe Biden.
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