As a Russian invasion of Ukraine becomes more and more likely, major European nations behave more and more in character. Britain, in its finest Churchill-Thatcher tradition, is stepping up to the plate. It just delivered anti-tank weapons to Ukraine.
Germany, reverting to its traditional approach of accommodating Russian aggression to further its interests, reportedly refused Britain permission to transport the anti-tank weapons through German airspace. Germany denies doing so, but admits refusing to grant re-export licenses to enable Estonia to send German-origin howitzers to Ukraine.
The Germans cite their policy of refusing to arm parties to a conflict, rooted in guilt over its aggression in World War II. Let me make sure I have this straight. Because Germany blitzed Europe, it can’t help prevent or combat a Russian blitz of Ukraine?
Isn’t Germany’s 1939 alliance with the Russians (then known as the Soviets) in service of territorial expansion — and not for the first time — the more relevant World War II behavior that the Germans should atone for in the current circumstances?
If England is gonna be England and Germany is gonna be Germany, we shouldn’t be surprised that France is gonna be France. It has seized on the current crisis to do what France does best — inflate its importance at America’s expense and undermine NATO.
Citing the current crisis, President Macron is advancing France’s ambitions for an EU-led security framework, rather than one led by NATO. He recently urged the EU to launch a separate dialogue with Moscow.
Macron is running for reelection. But even without this incentive for aggrandizing himself, it’s clear to me that he would be trying to deal the U.S. out and elevate France, which still fancies itself the master of diplomacy, into the lead role. It’s what French leaders do.
Meanwhile, Russia is gonna be Russia — a blight on Europe and any other domain into which it can extend its power (Syria comes to mind). Is there even a grain of truth to the claim of Russia’s American apologists that Putin just wants to protect himself from NATO encroachment on or near Russia’s borders? If so, that grain is Russian paranoia.
Finally, what about America? Is the U.S. gonna be the U.S.? The question is hard, and maybe even impossible, to answer. With so many different strands to American foreign policy over the decades, who can say what the U.S. really is in matters like these?