The USA and Europe are at odds

“The world does not belong to the globalists, but to the patriots.” With this provocation, the then US President Donald Trump in 2019 offended the United Nations (UN), which was meeting in New York. Two years later, Trump’s successor Joe Biden promises: “America is back. We believe in the United Nations and its values. ”

However, the resentment in Paris and now also with the EU in Brussels is naive and hypocritical at the same time. Naive because the Europeans fail to recognize the strategic importance of the South Pacific region for America. Barack Obama made it clear with his “Pivot to Asia” that the Pacific region was a priority of American foreign policy.

Biden is now building on this and accelerating America’s presence in the Indo-Pacific. This also benefits Europe, which cannot have any interest in an overpowering China as a trading partner.

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The anger of Europeans is hypocritical because Europe in the South Pacific is not a real partner for the USA and its allies there. Symbolic gestures like the dispatch of the Bundeswehr frigate “Bayern” to the Indo-Pacific are simply not enough. The fact that Japan and India welcome the new security alliance between Australia, Great Britain and the USA should give Europeans food for thought. The heads of government of the so-called quad countries USA, Australia, Japan and India will also meet in Washington on Friday and will hardly be bothered by European sensitivities.

Europe is no longer the first choice for America

Biden, on the other hand, allows himself to be driven by two contradicting instincts in his foreign policy: the knowledge that America’s security and global leadership role is decided in the Pacific and not in the Atlantic. And also the emotional connection to the European partners. He has not yet found a sustainable balance between these two poles.

The US president cannot, however, be accused, as the French do, of failing to appreciate the value of alliances. But Europeans are no longer the first choice for America everywhere in the world. If you want more, you have to deliver more than an Indo-Pacific strategy paper.

Europe needs to make it much clearer what it can offer the countries in the region as an alternative to China’s economic strength and America’s security. It is quite possible that European sovereignty can ultimately also mean recognizing your own limits and not making yourself the paper tiger of world politics.

The power play of the great powers does not bode well for the United Nations. It is true that the world, with the pandemic, climate change, the global refugee crisis and the geopolitical showdown between China and the USA, has more global challenges to master than ever.

Global crises call for global answers. That they instead generate nationalist reflexes in most countries should come as no surprise to anyone. In times of need, unfortunately, everyone is still the next person.

UN between heaven and hell

Nevertheless, the UN can play an important mediating role even in a world that is increasingly divided into geopolitical spheres of influence and entering an era of permanent crises. “The United Nations was not created to take us to heaven, but to save us from hell.” These words of former UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld at the height of the Cold War are as true today as they were then.

In contrast to the times of the bloc formation in East and West, there are now a whole series of global problems that no country can solve on its own. The UN world climate summit in Glasgow in November is the most important evidence of this. Making it a success and preventing failure is the most urgent task of the world community at the moment. For Biden it is a new chance to keep his promise “America is back”.

The pandemic and the climate crisis show it: Even healthy patriotism today demands international cooperation out of self-interest. It is an arduous, often agonizing path that is paved with setbacks.

However, there is no alternative to this. And perhaps it is this insight that will bring more than 100 heads of state and government to New York for the general debate this week.

More: UN general debate begins with Biden premiere in New York


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