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Janerik Larsson

Janerik Larsson

Jag har inte minst på senare år ofta funnit att amerikanska akademiker har ett mycket intressant perspektiv på EU/Europa. Det kan ju vara så att den geografiska distansen leder till en bättre förmåga att tydligt se de stora dragen.

Walter Russel Mead är professor i amerikansk utrikespolitik på Yale, en flitig skribent i The American Interest och en av grundarna av tankesmedjan New America Foundation.

I The American Interest skrev han tidigare i veckan att västvärlden inte förstår Putin/Ryssland vilket leder till att man inte förstår hur den problematiken ska hanteras:

Western analysts and political leaders don’t seem to be doing a good job of understanding Russia’s foreign policy these days. President Obama and his European colleagues utterly failed to predict the invasion of Ukraine, and have repeatedly underestimated both Putin’s determination and his ability to defy cherished Western norms on the road to his long-term project of rebuilding the Soviet Union at Western expense. From a Western point of view, Putin has been so weakened by the oil crash and western sanctions that the only thing that remains is to negotiate his surrender. The West keeps hinting that it will offer easy terms if asked, but Putin keeps blowing past every off-ramp that the Europeans and Americans can build. Until the West understand how the world looks to Vladimir Putin, it won’t understand the nature of the threat Russia poses or be able to think constructively about how to counter that. (—)

What the West doesn’t understand about Putin is that he doesn’t think the West is as strong as the West thinks that it is. Putin thinks the West has fallen in love with its own prejudices and illusions, and that the imposing structures of the Western world, both NATO and the EU in particular, are hollow facades. Because of this, Putin believes, the West continually embraces foolish foreign policy choices. It overreaches and underresources its foreign policy, and the result is to create a series of opportunities that a hungry power like Russia cannot afford to ignore.

From the Kremlin’s point of view, western power in Europe rests on two platforms. There is the global American hegemony, and then there is Germany, which has emerged as America’s sub-hegemon in Europe. Putin thinks that the Germans aren’t wise enough to rule Europe well, strong enough to rule it by force, or rich enough to rule it through economics and that Washington doesn’t understand that or, if it does, that Washington itself is too distracted or too weak to care. Either way, from Putin’s point of view, Germany’s position is much, much weaker than either Berlin or Washington understands.

At the same time, he believes that the American commitment to Europe is so weak that the United States will not react in a timely or effective fashion as Russia sets about the revision of the European order.

Putin sees Germany as the weaker, nearer, and, in the short term, more dangerous obstacle to his ambitions than the United States. His current policy is aimed incrementally at reducing American hegemony; it is directly aimed at disrupting what Putin sees as Germany’s attempt to create a new post-1990 order in its image and under its aegis.

Putin is no fool. He understands, much more clearly than Berlin does, just what a hammer blow the euro disaster has dealt to the entire structure of the enlarged, post-1990 European Union. He understands that Berlin’s leadership of the continent has lost legitimacy across the south, and further he believes that Berlin is too shortsighted and constrained to undertake the kind of policy that could still save the euro and the EU.

Putin also understands the fragility of the EU’s accomplishments beyond western Europe. EU bureaucrats and German diplomats don’t think culture matters as they build a multicultural and cosmopolitan New Europe from Dublin to Dubrovnik and from Sweden to Sicily. Putin thinks they are wrong, and when he looks at current conditions in Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Italy and Spain he sees the full confirmation of his theory. Europe, he believes, is not a country–and even if it were, it is not a German country.

Germany, he believes, is trying to build a Europe in defiance of the facts–and Germany lacks both the resources and the will to push this project indefinitely as its difficulties grow. Germany will not, Putin may well believe, find a way to turn the euro disaster around. The south will continue to fester and stew under an increasingly hateful and damaging system. Germany will also not be able to turn the Balkans into an orderly and quiet garden of Nordic and Teutonic virtues.

The key to Putin’s thinking is that he is betting less on Russian strength than on German and therefore Western weakness.

The American Interest

Onekligen ett perspektiv man inte sett mycket av på denna sidan av Atlanten. Har han rätt ? Tja inte vet jag…

Om gästbloggen

Janerik Larsson är gästbloggare hos SvD Ledare. Han är skribent, författare och journalist, verksam i Stiftelsen Fritt Näringsliv och pr-byrån Prime. Bloggar om svensk politik och har en internationell utblick mot främst brittiska och amerikanska medier.
Åsikter är hans egna.