No world order without 'the West'

In a few days, the Ukrainian conflict escalated with the criminal downing of MH-17, Israel launched a ground offensive in Gaza and the negotiations to temper the nuclear ambitions of Iran didn’t work out. This is typical for this era of disorder. For the first time since World War II, there is a world order without 'the West' as structuring strength. For many former protesters at peace squares in Amsterdam, Paris or London, that was the dream. This world order only produces chaos with blazing fires; not caused by 'the West' but rather by the lack of it.

The backbone of the postwar world order was the U.S. with in its wake the European allies. Especially Western Europe politically and culturally detached itself from the notion of 'the West' during its integration process. Europe has defined itself as ‘not American’. It saw itself as 'empire of good intentions' that brought peace with 'soft power', unlike the military superpower America.

U.S. President Obama therefore saw the Ukrainian crisis as a European affair. But Europe is clueless. The European Union is not a union. It is divided between the 'old Europe' with Germany ahead, that wants to spawn the Kremlin, and the 'new Europe' with Poland and the Baltic states advocating a harder line. That fed the appetite of Russian President Putin to spread chaos in Eastern Ukraine after annexation of the Crimea. The Ukrainian crisis shows that a neutralist attitude is dominating in Europe. The economically strongest country, Germany, has even become pacifist and so the plaything of the Kremlin.

European leaders could permit themselves to be soft because behind them there was a strong America. That's over. Under Obama, America has retired as leader of ‘the West’ and so the concept collapsed and potentates of various sorts got a free way. In the Libyan crisis in 2011, Obama decided to ‘lead from behind’. In the Syrian crisis, Obama behaved as noncommittal outsider.

EU = Belgium - 5 years

The EU and Belgium resemble permanent construction sites where the roofs are rebuild to hide a problem with the foundations. Both are busy with the formation of their new leadership after the election on May 25. The Belgian political elite often described the "Belgian model” as a precursor to the EU: "Europe will be Belgian, or it won’t be”. But after the formation of a government in 2010-2011 took 541 days, an absolute world record, that statement dumbfounded. However, it is no less true. If you want to know how the EU will look in about five years’ time, you should look at Belgium today.  

In the Netherlands, the Belgian formation after the elections of May 25 stands in the shadow of the battle for European top jobs. In the meanwhile, the Belgian King Philip appointed, Bart De Wever, leader of the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), as informer, charged with looking into possible coalitions. He put then the most politically correct basic text on the table. But De Wever came across a ‘non’. Then the King appointed Charles Michel, chairman of the French-speaking Liberals, as informer, who immediately decided to take the work over the summer. With the previous government formation of 541 days, this formation attempt is obviously still very young and fresh.

The formation of a Belgian government is difficult because Flemish and French-speaking voters went in the opposite direction. In Flanders, the N-VA was the big winner with over 30% of the votes. The Walloon voters marched to the left: the ruling Socialist party lost in favor of a kind of Walloon Communist Party. Flemings voted more to the right; Walloons leftist. The Walloon region immediately formed a leftist coalition; Flanders a center-right. Can there still be made a Belgian federal government?

The wrong man at the wrong place

European cooperation means Berlin says what Brussels will decide. The new President of the European Commission will be the outcome of an internal compromise between the ruling Christian Democrats and Socialists in Berlin. The current President of the European Parliament, the German Social Democrat Martin Schulz stays on. The German Christian Democrats put forward their Stellvertreter, the former Luxembourg Prime Minister Jan-Claude Juncker. The European Parliament can only say 'yes', while the European Council is dominated by the mood of Mutti Merkel.

Juncker is the least inspiring politician of the ruling European elite; he combines all the 'fifty shades of grey'.  As a full blooded Jesuit, he scorns democratic development. The elite knows better. In April 2011, he said: 'I am a Christian Democrat, a Catholic, but when it becomes serious you have to lie. Yes, I lie because it involves the survival of the euro.' On the referendum, he said: "If it’s a Yes, we will say ‘on we go’, and if it’s a no, we will say ‘we continue.’" Juncker was totally disgusted and appalled when he lost the election in Luxembourg last year. He fell over a hacking scandal of the Luxembourg security agency, which became public following a leak from the American NSA. He was the only political victim of the NSA scandal. Poor Juncker. But now he returns riding on the powerful wings of the German Christian Democrats. He became their Spitzenkandidat and exclaimed, despite a loss of about 50 seats in the European elections: 'I'm the big winner'.  When it comes to the interpretation of democracy, Jean-Claude is Jean 'Odd Ball' Juncker.