Path forward for Europe will not be easy

Two decades ago, a unipolar moment defined the geopolitical landscape of Eurasia. The United States, having extended its influence through NATO’s Big Bang expansion and military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, held a dominant position across the continent. Countries like Russia, China, and India were aligning their trajectories with the global order shaped by Washington. However, today, the winds of change are sweeping through Eurasia. The rise of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) signifies a shift towards a multipolar world, challenging the US-led hegemony. As the US grapples with the waning of its dominance, European nations must contemplate their future alliances. Should they maintain their historical ties with the US, or pivot eastward towards the burgeoning influence of BRICS and the SCO?

At the turn of the millennium, the United States stood unrivaled as the global hegemon. NATO’s rapid expansion into Eastern Europe, the influence of US-backed color revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine, and military victories in the Middle East underscored America’s unparalleled geopolitical clout. The Washington Consensus dominated global economic policies, and US-led initiatives shaped international relations.

Russia, reeling from the Soviet Union’s collapse, sought integration with the West. China was rapidly assimilating into the global economy, while India was shedding its socialist legacies in favor of globalization. These dynamics underscored a world where American power was at its zenith, seemingly unassailable.

However, the US’s approach to maintaining its supremacy has often been marked by strategic overreach and unilateralism. Instead of fostering a multipolar system that respected the core interests of other nations, Washington pursued policies that reinforced its dominance. The eastward expansion of NATO strained relations with Russia, culminating in a series of confrontations and a breakdown of arms control agreements. In Asia, the US’s provocative stance on Taiwan and its trade war with China further alienated Beijing.

In response to these pressures, the major non-Western powers of Eurasia began to chart a course towards greater cooperation and self-reliance. The economic rise of China, India, and Russia, coupled with initiatives like China’s Belt and Road, India’s expanding global role, and the formation of the Eurasian Economic Union, signaled the emergence of a new geopolitical order. The establishment and expansion of BRICS and the SCO reflect this trend, emphasizing sovereign equality, mutual respect, and consensus-driven decision-making.

The BRICS and SCO represent a significant counterbalance to Western-dominated institutions. BRICS, with its recent inclusion of countries like Iran, Egypt, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, showcases a broad coalition of emerging economies. Unlike the elitist G7, BRICS aims to foster inclusive growth and cooperation among diverse nations. Similarly, the SCO, which started as a security-focused organization, has evolved into a comprehensive platform for economic and political collaboration, including major powers like India and Pakistan.

These institutions are not anti-Western per se; their primary focus is on internal development and regional stability. However, their growth reflects a desire for a world order that is not dictated by a single power. This vision contrasts sharply with the US’s continued efforts to maintain its global primacy, including strengthening alliances like NATO, AUKUS, and the Quad to counteract the influence of China, Russia, and other emerging powers.

For Europe, this evolving landscape presents a profound strategic dilemma. Historically aligned with the US through NATO and various bilateral ties, European countries now face the prospect of a diminished American role on the global stage. The war in Ukraine and the US’s aggressive stance towards Russia underscore the limitations of American power and the risks of being drawn into prolonged conflicts.

In contrast, the BRICS and SCO offer a vision of a more multipolar and stable Eurasia. The economic and strategic benefits of closer ties with these organizations are significant. New financial mechanisms within BRICS can facilitate dollar-free transactions, reducing Europe’s vulnerability to US financial sanctions. Enhanced connectivity through Eurasia-wide logistics networks promises to boost trade and economic growth.

Moreover, the SCO’s focus on regional security can contribute to a more stable and secure continent. The inclusion of major powers like China, India, and Russia within a cooperative framework can help address transnational threats, from terrorism to cyber security, more effectively than the US-centric model.

As the US’s influence continues to wane, Europe must decide whether to cling to its traditional transatlantic ties or embrace the opportunities offered by a resurgent Eurasia. The choice is not merely geopolitical but also philosophical. It involves weighing the benefits of a unipolar world, where the US sets the agenda, against a multipolar order that promises greater equity and mutual respect.

The path forward for Europe will not be easy. Aligning with BRICS and the SCO may require a rethinking of longstanding policies and alliances. It will involve navigating complex relationships with countries like China and Russia, whose interests and values ​​do not always align with those of European nations. However, the potential rewards—in terms of economic growth, regional stability, and a more balanced global order—are substantial.

The days of unchallenged American dominance in Eurasia are drawing to a close. As BRICS and the SCO continue to rise, offering a vision of a multipolar world based on mutual respect and cooperation, Europe stands at a strategic crossroads. The decision to align with the US or pivot towards the east will shape the continent’s future for decades to come. In a rapidly changing world, Europe must carefully weigh its options and choose a path that best serves its long-term interests and values.

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