Monday, November 24, 2008

Change in Europe, In New Europe

I read today an interesting article on Nicolas Sarkozy titled “Sarkozy stamps his authority on world affairs” by Ahto Lobjakas. The article starts with identifying the French president as being “unique in the uncompromising manner in which he has directed France's EU presidency from the front.” Taking into account recent moves the French president took regarding the conflict and later the military confrontation between Russia and Georgia, or his opinion on the U.S. missile-defense shield hosted by the Polish and Czech, in addition to the attitude towards the US that took another turn recently. But what I find it more interesting is the articles view on French-German relations, namely, the author is arguing that Germany's Merkel ability to deal with the Russian question: “ Germany is known to back Sarkozy's general course for rapprochement with Russia, although the French president's unbridled ambition is a cause for concern in Berlin.” “Traditionally, Germany is looking to play a balancing role within the EU and the wider region. Writing in the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" on November 14, one of the German daily's publishers, Guenther Nonnemacher, said the West -- the EU and the United States -- must continue to engage Russia. Much more than France, Germany appears to be worried about the future of the disarmament regimes affecting Europe after the United States withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002 and Russia suspended its participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty in 2007.”

This reminds me of the confrontation between former U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld and German foreign minister then, Joschka Fischer back in 2003 when Rumsfeld branded European countries that did not support the 2003 invasion of Iraq, specifically France and Germany by calling them “Old Europe”. I am never considered Donald Rumsfeld as being a clairvoyant, but he was right, a new Europe was born. However, it is either he missed that prediction part when he thought that change is not needed in the United States, and that his neo-conservative movement would last forever, at least till it reach its goals. On both sides of the continent there are those who are looking for a change: it is has been proven when Americans choose for Barack Obama. In fact, the whole world is going through changes, political change I mean; there are some countries where regime are resisting such change because it would harm the purpose of their existence, and there are countries who are already took brave steps into changing the course of their political path. Lets take Australia, for example, I realize that problems with the aboriginals still long to be solved, but would the apology by Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd can be counted as the first step towards that promised change, by extending and offering reconciliation among people of the same country?

There is an wind of change that approaching the whole world, and not only Europe or the United States. There is a different scent in the air, with a flavor of a demand for changing old habits and outdated political attitude. Old school politics needs to go through a process of transformation, to be substituted by a new one. I guess the hide-and-seek between Italy Berlusconi and Germany Merkel would be the only thing left to laugh about, because there are changes in the political scene in Europe – they are still clanging by searching a way to save Alitalia (by negotiating the merge with Lufthansa) i.e. by looking separately into one issue while in fact it is part of a bigger problem within the collective financial system in Europe. The approach by the two leaders has no use anymore, a new political approach is needed. I won’t comment on the approach the German foreign ministry too by prohibiting the broadcast of Lebanese Hizballah, only that it is another expired approach to deal with foreign policy issues. There are new faces in the field, sitting and waiting for their role to be called, their assignment and strategy is ready for implementation. Sarkozy is not the first of those new faces, though, Vladimir Poetin is one of the first of those young, energetic magicians. The difference between Sarkozy and Poetin is that the latter like to play his tricks while watching the public with perspective, though. Nicolas Sarkozy is different from the Russian counterpart; the French president is like another wizard with lots of magical tricks in his pockets. He took people attention by surprise many times because of his fast moves, in France and abroad, some of his tricks brought him success, applause then stardom. At the end and in a very short time he managed to bring back France as a powerful player in the world, surpassing the United States who stumbled in its own foreign policy. The French president made his words heard, managed to cross some what is considered by some old-school politics as red-lines, given examples of his latest maneuvers on the financial crisis (check his speech in Strasbourg on this issue).

There is no doubt that this change taking place in Europe came as a result of seeing the sole super power launching illegal war, a war that was based on lies, that caused hundreds of thousands of killings and as much as it is of homeless Iraqis inside and outside the country. The Europeans watched the U.S. stuck in the Iraqi mud. Without pulling the plug entirely on the already damaged transatlantic relations (it won’t happen, impossible to cut ties like that with a historic ally) European politicians in their respective countries were anxious, especially that common European citizens became too agitated by U.S. policy (as a result common Americans and their reputation abroad was also at stake), this means that European leaders were to find a way to keep a balance to this difficult formula: this was one of the reasons change was essential and a new Europe was born. The winning of Barack Obama in the U.S. presidential elections helped in speeding up the matter and to take a wider look - this can be seen in different speeches and announcements by European leaders and politicians – even to criticize more openly the past and illustrate the consequences and who to blame.

Will this change be challenged? yes, it will, furiously, by whom? Is there a chance that this change can back-fire on those who want it to be successful? yes, but how? A clear answer would be found when a a solution for the current financial crisis is found, and from there change will be faster than anything else this continent has ever witnessed.

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