Borrell's Exculpatory Plea: 'So Many Black Swans -- How Could We Have Seen Crisis Coming?'
Did Borrell and his diplomat battalions not see that the US was undergoing a profound change? Did they not consider that the latter might threaten EU interests and be inimical to its wellbeing?
The European Union is a “garden” that has the best combination of “political freedom, economic prosperity and social cohesion” ever known to humankind – and must be protected from the outside “jungle.” That is according to EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, delivering a speech at the inauguration of a program designed to train the next generation of EU diplomats.
"The rest of the world ... is not exactly a garden. Most of the rest of the world is a jungle, and the jungle could invade the garden. The gardeners [the new EU generation of diplomats] should take care of it, but they will not protect the garden by building walls”.
He insisted that Europeans have to be “much more engaged” with the rest of the world and put their “privilege” to good use. The gardeners have to go to the jungle ... Keep the garden, be good gardeners. But your duty will not be to take care of the garden itself, but [of] the jungle outside” .
Later in the week addressing EU Ambassadors, Borrell warned:
“We are facing a world of radical uncertainty. The speed and scope of change is exceptional. [Black Swans are raining down on us from everywhere] Events that one could imagine that they will never happen, they are happening, one after the other: Things have happened that had a very low probability of happening - they nevertheless have happened ...”.
He then goes on to summarize how, in his view, the European crisis has arisen:
'We [the EU] were entirely dependent on China (trade), Russia (energy), and US (security)'. “Our prosperity has been based on cheap energy coming from Russia. Russian gas – cheap and supposedly affordable, secure, and stable. [But] it has been proved not [to be] the case. And the access to the big China market, for exports and imports, for technological transfers, for investments and cheap goods”.
So, our prosperity was based on China and Russia -- energy and markets.
“Clearly, today, we have to find new ways for energy from inside the European Union, as much as we can. That will produce a strong restructuring of our economy – that is for sure. People are not aware of that but the fact that Russia and China are no longer the ones that [they] were for our economic development will require a strong restructuring of our economy”.
“The access to China is becoming more and more difficult. The adjustment will be tough, and this will create political problems. On the other hand, we delegated our security to the United States … While the transatlantic relationship has never been as good as it is today – [including] our cooperation with the United States and my friend Tony Blinken [US Secretary of State]: we are in a fantastic relationship and cooperating a lot; [yet] who knows what will happen two years from now, or even in November? ...”.
It's the old, old story: early generations build; the next, consolidate real prosperity – and their successors opt for the nonchalant dissipation of their fortuitous privilege -- and then patronisingly lecture the world that their Garden of Eden is the "best ever known to humankind". The 'spoiled children' of the 'last generation' cannot internalise that the emerging world order scorns their 'garden'.
Borrell however relates Europe’s crisis as an unforeseen (low probability) turn of events -- that unfairly has taken the EU to its present existential crisis.
What utter nonsense!
China did not withdraw from trading with Europe. It is Europe that is decoupling from China. Why? Because the US (starting with Trump), began its strategic shift to identify China -- with its economy on the cusp of toppling America’s in terms of size -- as a threat to American continued global primacy. What was so difficult about that to foresee?
Equally, was it hard to conclude that though the rivalry between the two biggest economies was rooted in hard-nosed commercial tit for tat, Washington nonetheless would come to spin China as a dangerous ‘military threat’, as well?
Was it not clear, from early on that the framing of China as a security threat would not be in the EU's interest? By the way, India is not long-off overtaking the US. Will India then become the next security ‘threat’ to NATO and the EU?
Borrell portrays the EU’s energy woes as another ‘black swan’ thrown at the EU by an ‘unreliable supplier’ -- Russia. In fact, the reverse is true. NATO was building up a confrontation scenario in Ukraine for eight years (since 2014). The EU knew that. Moscow has been warning of the coming ‘blow-up’ for years. Did Borrell not attend to the signals?
It was the EU who unheedingly -- and without doing due diligence -- took the bait that sanctions and the seizure of Russia’s foreign reserves would quickly collapse the Russian economy, and likely lead to President Putin’s ouster. In fact, the EU did not need to be pushed by its ‘friend’ Tony Blinken. The EU went for it -- hook, line and sinker -- only to find it had cut itself off from the primary source of its prosperity: cheap Russian energy. And the EU is now 'trapped' in paying 600%-700% higher prices for US LNG.
Did anyone in Brussels not think this through beforehand?
Yes, it is true that another fount of EU prosperity has been that it spent less on defence, thinking that if ‘worst came to worst’, the US would unchain its hardware. The US had Europe’s back. Yet, though that hardware stood in the background, the US however, has been in a process of radical political-cultural transition.
Again, this was nothing new. As long ago as 1994, a prescient American cultural historian, Christopher Lasch, had foreseen this shift. In The Revolt of the Élite, he described how a social revolution would be pushed to the cusp by the radicalised children of the urban Metro-Élite. Their demands would be centred on utopian ideals: diversity, climate and racial justice -- ideals pursued with the fervour of an abstract, millenarian ideology.
The EU was an easy target for these US cultural warriors. The EU’s lack of political discourse, (the so-called ‘democracy gap’) was an obvious lacuna. Europe was in need of a Values System to fill the gap, so Europe’s bourgeoisie leaped, too, upon the liberal-woke ‘train’. Drawing on this, and the Club of Rome’s ‘messianism’ for de-industrialisation, the combination seemed to offer a set of ‘European Values’ to fill the democracy-gap lacuna.
Only ... only, the American pro-war Republican, as well as pro-war Democrat neocons, had already clambered onto ‘that train’. The mobilised cultural-ideological forces suited their interventionist project perfectly: Russia first, and China second.
Did Borrell and his diplomat battalions not see that the US was undergoing a profound change? Did they not consider that the latter might threaten EU interests and be inimical to its wellbeing? Could they not understand that the rest-of-the-world would prove culturally-resistant to this EU iteration of its deliberately disruptive new Values System - together with the desire to impose it on the world? Apparently not. The collective EU Borrell simply fell-in with the wishes of their Washington close ‘friends’.
They clearly didn't think any of this through. It was not black swans that obscured their vision, but simple hubris.