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For Europe: Finlandization’s Revenge or a Eurasian Identity?

1:42 pm in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

Another Europe, Another World

In 1989 my book Une autre Europe, un Autre Monde [Another Europe, Another World], was published in France by a small academic house, after being rejected by all the progressive publishers. It foresaw the reunification of Europe, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the end of apartheid in South Africa, the rise of China (erroneously predicting greater democratization, however) and called for the creation of a Eurasian Community of Communities to include what I named before the fact as “a Europe of Thirty”, the Soviet Union, China, Japan and India, five giant entities that would balance each other out, eliminating the perceived need for Europe to be protected from the Russian Bear by the United States.

The book came out resolutely against then First Secretary Gorbatchev’s suggestion that not only the Soviet Union, but also the US and Japan, should be part of a large ‘European House’.

The URSS, a giant that reaches to the Pacific, is still not part of Peter the Great’s Europe, even though Russians are considered as Europeans in contrast to Asians and Muslims. But whether in Europe or Asia, the URSS is too large to be included in any group, too immense to be primus inter pares. Poland, Bulgaria and Romania today constitute Eastern Europe, while Germany, Czechoslovakia and Hungary make up Central Europe. To cling to the formula ‘Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals’, which would make Russia its Eastern region, is not only outrageously ethnocentric, implying that Europe is white and Christian, it prevents us from building a credible European future.

Though today Gorbatchev’s vision is not mentioned in reference to Vladimir Putin’s project for a Eurasian Union, one cannot discuss the latter without referring to the former. Or rather, at the risk of appearing too pretentious as a woman who twice eschewed academic credentialization, one cannot discuss Putin’s dream without considering the message of ‘Une autre Europe, un autre Monde’.

Regarding the Soviet Union, the French historian and founder of the Annals school Fernand Braudel wrote:

The destiny of this country which is located in the middle of the Eurasian landmass has been that of an immense frontier-zone between Europe, which it protects, and Asia, whose ever more brutal assaults fell upon it. Russia’s invaders – Mongols, Turks, Arabs – were nomads. Its merchants, city people, travelled the immense territory, but refrained from visiting its peoples. Thus, it is no surprise that while Westerners think that democracy equals the right to emigrate, the Russians, huddled together because of their geography, have always seen emigration as a betrayal.

I noted that “It took Levi’s, a non-violent invasion, to change that mentality”, and that “while so many changes are happening in the USSR, Europe remains attached to its old criteria, seen as immutable even in the space age, locating the European frontier at the Urals, a holdover from a time when Nation-states did not yet exist, but only peoples, when it was necessary, as Braudel wrote, ‘to separate light from darkness, barbarism from civilization, as peoples moved from East to West.’”

I held the first copy of my book on the day the Berlin Wall fell in November, 1989. Western Europe still consisted of only twelve countries and was called The Common Market. The latter chapters of the book proposed ways in which East and West could be reunited, forming a larger entity. Two of my neighbors in Paris at the time were a German-Italian couple, with whom I shared champagne that night, and they were sure I was being overly optimistic when I announced without the slightest hesitation that Germany would be reunited within a year. (It happened in October of 1990.)

Although my elaborate plan for a gradual building of confidence between the countries of Eastern and Western Europe had proved unnecessary, during that year I spoke out in EU meetings in Brussels for an accelerated entry of the newly independent countries into the European Union. French President Francois Mitterrand wanted the project put on the back burner, having also tried to delay the reunification of Germany, that country having invaded France three times in the last century. My book accused France of continuing to fear Germany while condemning it for what were at the time its pacifist policies vis a vis a Soviet Union, preventing Europe’s two largest countries from forming the center of a revitalized Europe and delaying its independence from the United States. Since the end of World War II, Washington had consistently portrayed the Soviet Union as an existential threat to Europe, falling back on Finlandization (a soft, economic takeover), when predictions of Russian tanks rolling unopposed across the European plain failed to be taken seriously in the face of NATO’s massive buildup. Read the rest of this entry →

Raining on Our Parade – and Europe’s

2:54 pm in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

On this 237th anniversary of the adoption of the American Declaration of Independence from the British crown, the nations of Latin America have declared their independence from the United States.

The plane carrying Bolivian president Evo Morales home from a conference in Moscow saw its overflight permissions cancelled in mid-flight by France, Spain and Portugal, on American suspicions that Edward Snowden might be on board. Noting that no presidential plane has ever been denied airspace in the world since 1945, Latin American leaders have called a special meeting of their organization, UNASUR for tomorrow. (UNASUR includes virtually every Latin American country and is headquartered in Quito, Ecuador and Cochabamba, Bolivia, two countries considering granting asylum to Snowden….)

Meanwhile, France’s President Hollande reminded me of a childhood protest that amused my family when someone tickled me: “Stop it I like it!” France’s – and to a certain extent Europe’s – ‘street walker’ relationship to the United States belies affirmations of independence.  This particular instance of government kowtowing has infuriated all sides of the French political spectrum, who point out that France drafted the original Declaration of Human Rights. Lamely apologizing for ‘faulty intelligence’ about Morales’ plane, Hollande reacted to Snowden’s revelations of outrageous spying by the U.S. with an unconvincing call for the EU – also copiously spied upon – to delay the start of negotiations on the transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP) destined to replace NATO as America’s controlling organization in Europe.

The extent of U.S. spying on countries it touts as allies underlines the fact that the Cold War is not over but has simply gone underground. No European took seriously the Soviet Union’s references to a ‘Common European House’ under Gorbachev. Twenty some odd years later, Russia pipes gas to Europe and signs all manner of economic deals with individual countries ever less keen to support America’s wars in the Middle East (except for Syria). The monumental spy scandal involving a country, not an individual, mock America’s tireless assertions of morality and respect for international law, providing Russia with a golden opportunity to defend them.

Sadly, it seems unlikely that this irrefutable proof of American duplicity will give Europe the spine to join the  movement of the most populous countries of the world toward independence from the American Empire. Read the rest of this entry →