France and Germany need to let go of the delusions

Western European countries must start seeing Russia as it really is if they want to remain the leaders of Europe, writes political scientist Marek A. Cichocki

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: Marek A. Cichocki
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (left) pictured with French President Emmanuel Macron (right)

Naturally, we all wish for this war to be over as soon as possible. We would also like the world to return to its state prior to the two-year long pandemic. On the other hand, Joe Biden’s speech at the courtyard of the Royal Castle in Warsaw resounded strongly enough to break all delusions: prepare for costly, lengthy struggles for the future shape of the world order and the place of the West and Europe, because the old order is ending.

Those words should be understood within the framework of the war taking place on our eastern border, a war of Ukraine’s future, and the entire region’s security. However, in fact, they were addressed to China, which could be the deciding factor in the future power struggle, but after all, also to the countries of Western Europe, that might have suffered the biggest defeat in their post-war history.

It is not without reason to point out the flaws in Biden’s policy of containing Russia during 2021, an obvious failure in light of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. But even when compared to this, the Western European countries suffered a complete defeat and their European security policies were simply laid in ruins.

Just a couple of weeks ago, France and Germany considered themselves to be the leading architects of the strategic autonomy of the continent. Within a fortnight, both have lost their credibility as the de facto leaders of Europe. Everyone should start to draw conclusions from this unusual situation, and we need a completely new way of thinking about the architecture of European security.

If the long-lasting unity of the West is necessary for our security, then it would not be in the interest of the U.S. or Poland for the old divisions of Western and Eastern Europe to re-emerge — such divisions would be counterproductive. France and Germany also need to accept the complete change of the geopolitical landscape, which requires seeing Russia for what it really is; and most importantly recognizing Ukraine as an inseparable factor for European security.

Neither Paris nor Berlin have yet crossed this fundamental psychological barrier in thinking about the new security situation for all us, Europeans, and with great resistance they are turning away from their old habits and delusions.

If they wish to prove they have not abandoned their strategic responsibility, they need to let them go.

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