August 2, 2017
Remember Montesquieu and his “doux commerce” ? “L’effet naturel du commerce est de porter à la paix. Deux nations qui négocient ensemble, se rendent réciproquement dépendantes: si l’une a intérêt d’acheter, l’autre a intérêt de vendre; et toutes les unions sont fondées sur des besoins mutuelles. Mais si l’esprit de commerce unit les nations, il n’unit pas de même les particuliers.”
Over the past few hundred years, this belief has become an integral part of the liberal credo and it animates the economic thinking of globalists to this day. Alas, the promise of trade as a peace-promoting activity among nations has never been fulfilled to date. The recent adoption of additional sanctions against Russia by the US senate amply proves that geopolitical tensions among nations and blocks of nations can thwart the beneficial effects of trade among them. One of the problems is that Russia and the United States are essentially alike tradewise. Both countries rely heavily for their export earnings on commodities (oil & gas) and sales of military hardware to their allies…
In many ways, the European Union is caught in the current crossfire between the former cold war enemies. A new and more dangerous version of the first cold war between the Americans and the Russians has emerged, one that is commonly called cold war 2.0. It has occurred as a direct result of the relentless expansion of NATO eastwards since the turn of the millennium and it is now seriously affecting international trade.
Nevertheless, restoring peaceful relations between the EU, US and Russia is an essential precondition of resuming normal trade relationships. But how to achieve this?
First, the Western alliance should recognize that the presence of NATO in the countries bordering Russia is viewed in Moscow as a huge security threat. Thus, not only should its expansion into Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia be halted, but additional confidence-building steps should be undertaken in order to defuse the current tensions.
Second, the Baltic countries should themselves revert to a neutral status, even as they retain EU membership.
Third, a newly-formed neutral zone between NATO and Russia should be created. This would include Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, whose security should be guaranteed by multilateral treaties between NATO powers and Russia.
Past experience has proven that in case of conflict, in all these countries with sizeable Russian minorities, their allegiance naturally tilts towards Moscow. This makes these states, at the best of times, unreliable NATO allies or candidates. Furthermore, history has also shown that states like Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia achieve a relatively higher level of internal stability when led by pro-Russian leaders.
Putting a stop to NATO’s expansion and taking a step back from the Russian borders would restore peaceful relations with Russia and improve trade ties. Just as important, it would prove that NATO is not bent on expansion at the expense of trade, but stays true to its original mandate of preserving peace on the continent.Florian Pantazi