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Will Europe And Russia Seek To Check U.S. Power?

Will Europe And Russia Seek To Check U.S. Power?

By Power and Interest News Report (PINR) Column

(PINR) – Now that the United States has expressed its desire to weaken the United Nations politically and to create a new world order in which the U.S. can become the sole, unrestrained power in the world, it will be important to watch how Europe responds. Prior to the war in Iraq, the European states of France and Germany were unwilling to support a U.S. led invasion. With the weight of the Security Council behind these two states, governments around the world watched to see if the U.S. would defy the United Nations and thus upset the balance of world order. The Bush administration decided to attack Iraq without U.N. support, which sent ominous signals throughout the world that the U.S. would no longer be restrained by the decrees of the U.N.

In this new state of affairs, the U.S. will continue to stand unchallenged on the world stage until another state or group of states attempts to check its power. As of now, no such entity exists, and the members of the Bush administration have taken note of this situation and are thus pushing U.S. interests on the world. Because the U.S. wields an abundance of economic and military power, other powerful states are hesitant to stray too far from U.S. interests. China, for example, has the potential to check U.S. power; however, its growth potential is reliant on good relations with Washington. Because of the Sino-U.S. relationship, it will be France, Germany and Russia that will most likely be able to check U.S. power.

The major power brokers within the European Union -- France and Germany -- are unhappy with the recent changes in world order. Until recently, France was able to influence global relations through its permanent member status in the United Nations Security Council. Now, with the U.S. replacing the U.N. as the formal center of world order, France's power on the world stage has been greatly diminished, if not eradicated altogether. Germany is also unhappy with the United States limiting the power of Europe so it can become a global hegemon. Russia, like France, has a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council; due to Washington's weakening of the U.N., Russia also lost considerable power in global affairs. For these reasons, France, Germany and Russia took a strong stance against a U.S. attack on Iraq.

But now there are signs that these states are willing to put up even more resistance. On April 29, the leaders of France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg agreed to work towards a European Security and Defense Union by the end of 2004. As part of this union, the four member states would combine resources to create a rapid reaction force capable of preventing conflicts and managing military problems anywhere in the world. Furthermore, this force would be commanded by an independent E.U. military command center just outside Brussels. Such a force, as stated by French President Jacques Chirac, is necessary in order to create "balance." Chirac added, "We need a stronger European Union and a strong United States."

Even more groundbreaking is the recent statements by the defense ministers of both France and Russia in which they announced mutual intensified military cooperation and joint weapons production. Encouraged by Washington's decision to attack Iraq, both Paris and Moscow had increased political and diplomatic cooperation in recent months. Military collaboration between the major power brokers of the European Union and Russia could work to weaken U.S. global power. The advanced states of the European Union, combined with Russia's nuclear capability, could act to counter unrestrained U.S. power. This chain of events would provide the most credible restraint to current U.S. foreign policy aspirations and once again establish a world order that relies on balance, rather than one superpower with unilateral ambitions.

Still, there are several potential obstacles to such an alliance. The European Union is far from united; after announcing their plan to build an independent E.U. military command center, the E.U. states of Britain, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands all detached themselves from this proposition. Other European member states have reacted coolly. This lack of cooperation is due to most European member states' unwillingness to distance themselves politically too far from the United States. The massive economic, political and military power the U.S. wields causes most European member states to find their interests best served by the United States, rather than the central powers of the European Union. Until relations with the central powers of the European Union are more appealing than relations with the United States, European member states will continue to attempt to keep good relations with both the central E.U. states and certainly the United States.

Russia finds itself in a similar predicament. Moscow still looks to the United States to help it succeed in the world of globalization and free trade capitalism. Russia has been waiting for the U.S. to lift Cold War-era trade restrictions; moreover, Russia also wants acceptance into the World Trade Organization. Therefore, Russia finds that its national interests lie in good relations with the United States; this political reality has kept Russia from swaying too far away from U.S. interests. Furthermore, as in the case of pro-U.S. European states, Russia does not yet feel that an alliance with central E.U. states such as France and Germany would be more beneficial than an alliance with the United States.

But due to quick developments that often emerge on the global scene, the relations between these states could quickly change. If the U.S. takes further action that threatens European and Russian interests, the U.S. could unwillingly push these former hegemonic states into an alliance that will work to check U.S. power abroad.

******** ENDS ********

Erich Marquardt drafted this report.

The Power and Interest News Report (PINR) is an analysis-based publication that seeks to, as objectively as possible, provide insight into various conflicts, regions and points of interest around the globe. PINR approaches a subject based upon the powers and interests involved, leaving the moral judgments to the reader. PINR seeks to inform rather than persuade. This report may be reproduced, reprinted or broadcast provided that any such reproduction identifies the original source, All comments should be directed to

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