You don’t prevent a Cold War: you either win it or lose it

Last week France and Germany both made defining statements on their foreign policy. Emmanuel Macron gave a series of interviews with US and French press during and after his visit to the US where he claimed amongst other things, that Europe should provide security guarantees for Russia should it choose to end its war in Ukraine. On the other hand, Olaf Scholz had an article published in Foreign Affairs where he delineated Germany’s foreign policy.

At this point what Macron says about European security is irrelevant and even unwarranted. France’s contribution of military aid to Ukraine is so small that it doesn’t even show up in Statista’s main graphic.  Macron’s delusion of grandeur makes him think he is a world diplomat only that the problem is that Macron intends to build bridges with those who literally intended to freeze us to the death during Winter. Macron’s pretentious world leadership antics have only alienated other European leaders rather than creating new allies for France. Macron’s absurdity in giving Putin security guarantees when instead, he should be hauled in front of international human rights courts is absurd, to say the least.

On the other hand, Germany gets to speak about European security because it is Europe’s most important economy and is also a significant contributor to Ukraine – however, not as much or near what the necessary contribution should be. Olaf Scholz like Macron is trying to talk global diplomacy in times of war.

There are various cardinal mistakes that Scholz does in his global assessment. Scholz makes critique to Fukuyama for saying that it is not true that history has ended with the end of the Cold War, yet at the same time, Scholz contradicts himself by attempting to prevent history as he plans to prevent a new Cold War. Yet, Scholz should be rational and practical enough to understand that just going to China and reasserting your position in favor of the global rules-based order, isn’t going to persuade the Chinese leadership on anything. So, what’s Scholz point, actually? How does he intend to avoid a Cold War? It’s not as if you can go to China and ask them politely to give up their claims over Taiwan. Scholz seems to have an idea of the world as he would like it to be instead of as it really is.

Scholz makes the right assessment when he says that Russia is imperialist and that imperialism shouldn’t be tolerated in Europe, however, Scholz misunderstands how this imperialism can be prevented and counteracted. Surprisingly, he says that we shouldn’t pit liberal democracies against authoritarian states, but again, Scholz ignores the reality that this divide is inevitable given that authoritarian states may opt for imperialism and don’t not respect the international rules-based order.

Scholz shouldn’t be so cocky in his critique of Fukuyama because he makes similar mistakes. Like Fukuyama, Scholz seems to believe that increased free trade and capitalism will further push authoritarian states to more liberal politics. The reality is different. We have learned by hindsight and experience that capitalism can enrich and strengthen liberal democracies as much as it can consolidate and strengthen authoritarian states. And Scholz is making the same mistake his predecessors did with Russia by strengthening economic engagement with China instead of searching elsewhere in liberal democracies.

There may be a silver lining to Germany’s change of heart when it comes to military expenditure but posing as a guarantor of continental security is a big responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Neither will I believe that Scholz will protect me just because he wrote an article full of assurances in a magazine. For starters, I expect the one who is guaranteeing my security to have a deeper strategic understanding of war and the deterrence of rogue and imperial states, and secondly, but also equivalently important, I expect my guarantor to take an active approach against belligerents. It is extremely worrying if my security guarantor takes a naive disposition with regard to aggressors who don’t share our democratic values, especially if these belligerents happen to supposedly be our allies.

Turkey is waging a murderous and unnecessary war in Northern Syria against the Kurds and this war goes against our democratic values. Turkey’s behaviour in Northern Syria has got more to do with Erdogan’s imperialist ambitions than with its own domestic security, and this imperialistic behavior goes against what supposedly Europe is fighting against in Ukraine. Turkey won’t be persuaded to give up its war in Northern Syria with diplomacy, and Erdogan won’t give up his power as easily a democratic leader would do in Europe. Turkey also has interests that go against its neighbor, Greece which is a European country and also a NATO member.

Belligerent states like Turkey and China won’t be persuaded to give up their imperialist ambitions and authoritarianism with more trade and economic engagement. Diplomacy will neither fix authoritarianism. The reality of a cold war needs strategies that are self-explanatory, and our rivals should be fought in such a framework. The easiest thing to do is ignore the realities of the world and allow China and Russia to wage cold wars against us while we bask under the sun and take our freedoms for granted. Or we can fight for our democracies by engaging back in today’s cold war to our benefit.

We have to be firm on security and reiterate criminal punishment to those who break the internal rules-based order: this includes Putin and his cronies for war crimes committed in Ukraine. We should ensure to bring back economic momentum to Europe and increase our trade across the world.  And we should also promote our values and support those who share our values across the globe.

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. Russia has crossed red lines and Europe should act accordingly – Mark Camilleri

Leave a Reply