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The Future of Europe: Unipolarity vs Multipolarity

Elizabeth P

Jun 5, 2023

All countries typically prioritize their own interests when formulating foreign policy decisions. China has successfully lifted itself out of poverty through extensive trading with the entire world. Russia initiated its special military operation over a year ago in direct response to threats to its national security due to NATO expansion. The United States has amassed substantial wealth and power by engaging in numerous military interventions abroad, particularly in recent decades. Consequently, it appears illogical today that European leaders would unquestioningly follow directives from Washington. The US-led sanctions on Russia have hit Europe the hardest, while having little lasting impact on Russia itself. European countries which relied on Russia for imports of liquefied natural gas, clearly have not benefitted from the US and Norway's destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines. To comprehend the seemingly irrational decisions of European leaders, it becomes essential to grasp the broader context of Western imperialism's development.


History of Western Imperialism


In the early 20th century, the United States transitioned into its monopoly capitalist stage, becoming a competitor among the European imperialist powers. By that time, Europe had mostly completed the territorial division of the world, leaving the US to find innovative approaches. Following the 1944 Bretton Woods conference, global capitalist institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were established, dominated by the United States. As Lenin explained in Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism, the defining feature of imperialism is finance capital becoming "concentrated in a few hands and exercising a virtual monopoly," with foreign loans being an especially lucrative source of profits as "the country which exports capital skims the cream." After World War II, the US emerged as the dominant imperialist power, bolstering its economic and military influence in Western Europe through initiatives like the Marshall Plan in 1947 and the formation of NATO in 1949. For the subsequent decades, a bipolar world order existed, characterized by US imperialism on one end and Soviet socialism on the other. However, this balance shifted in 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, resulting in the United States becoming the first truly global superpower.


During this period, many Western academics were influenced by US imperialist hubris and believed that the "end of history" had arrived. However, there were those, like Zbigniew Brzezinski, who recognized the theoretical possibility of a competing world power emerging, posing a significant threat to the unipolar hegemony of the United States. In his work "The Grand Chessboard," Brzezinski outlined a strategy to maintain American global supremacy by effectively managing key geopolitical allies and adversaries, ensuring that no challenger to US hegemony could arise. Drawing parallels between the United States and ancient empires, with European states as tributaries and vassals, Brzezinski highlighted three crucial aspects of imperial geostrategy: preventing collusion and fostering security dependence among vassals, keeping tributaries compliant and safeguarded, and averting any potential convergence among perceived threats or "barbarians."


US control over both Germany and France has played a crucial role in maintaining American hegemony in Europe and across Eurasia. Germany, in particular, has emerged as a steadfast ally of the United States in Europe, especially following the counterrevolution against the German Democratic Republic, which allowed imperialist forces to exert influence throughout the entire country. France has also demonstrated loyalty, although it has been more inclined to consider ideas that diverge from Washington's preferences, as evidenced by President Emmanuel Macron's remarks regarding France's involvement in the Taiwan issue and its potential impact on the country's best interests.


Will Europe join the Multipolar World?


Whether or not Macron’s comments have any substance behind them, he has pointed out the increasingly-obvious fact that Washington does not make decisions in the best interests of Europe. The impact of anti-Russia sanctions on the well-being of average Europeans has revealed to them the true face of US hegemony. Nearly a year ago, more than half of Germans surveyed agreed that they were experiencing a decline in their economic status compared to 2021, due to the economic downturn resulting from the NATO economic war on Russia. Furthermore, support for providing military and economic assistance to Ukraine has diminished across Western nations, as evidenced by a poll conducted in March of this year.


Germany and France, together, contribute approximately 41% to the overall economy of the European Union, with Germany accounting for 24.26% and France for 16.72%. Instead of remaining under the thumb of the US empire, these two nations have the potential to leverage their economic significance for the benefit of themselves and Europe as a whole. Despite escalating tensions between Russia and the EU, China recognizes the importance of expanding ties with the EU to promote multipolarity. This is one of the reasons why China has maintained a neutral stance in the Ukraine conflict. Fu Cong, the Chinese Ambassador to the EU, has emphasized that fr0m China's perspective there are "no limits" to the potential for international friendship and win-win cooperation, highlighting the possibility of compatibility between China-Russia and China-EU relations.


By aligning themselves with the global majority led by BRICS, European countries have the opportunity to reclaim their sovereignty. They can avoid being used as pawns in desperate attempts to undermine countries identified as adversaries by the United States. At present, Europe is confronted with a significant choice: either be sacrificed by the declining US empire or embrace the emerging multipolar world.

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