There is an interesting development taking place in Eastern Europe - the Intermarium initiative, which receives US support and backing. The proposed multinational polity would extend across territories lying between the Baltic and Black Seas, hence the Latinate name, meaning “between seas”. The concept is not new – it was originally conceived in Poland in early 20th century.
It came back to life because both, Germany and Russia are weakening at the same time, opening the door for countries located between them. And while it is clear that Russia is not a major world power anymore (its defense budget is a quarter of that of China), then the statement about Germany (and EU by extension) requires some explanation.
Their large dominant corporations were modeled in the 1950’s and they never re-engineered themselves. That’s why there is no European Google. And the German welfare system ultimately depends on these corporations.
The country exports more than 50% of their GDP, which is clearly unsustainable. Half their exports go into the European free trade zone, so the Euro was priced somewhere on the borderline of preventing inflation in Germany, while facilitating German trade. Of course, southern Europe needs a much cheaper Euro, they need a mechanism to limit German exports otherwise they can’t develop. And with the introduction of the Euro they lost it. The entire periphery of Europe is not benefitting from the free trade zone and they are going to do something about it, it’s just a matter of time.
Simply put, a social catastrophe is taking place in Europe and it will result in the re-drawing of the geo-political order.
The problem is that history of Europe is solving problems by violent spasms. Between 1914 and 1945 about 100 million Europeans died in wars, conflicts and exterminations of all kinds. Things changed after 1945 – the decisions on what goes on in Europe were no longer made in London, Paris, Berlin or Rome, but in Washington and Moscow. And the Russians and Americans were more constrained facing each other, despite many reasons for an all-out war. You may call the Americans cowboys, but they kept cool heads. Just try to imagine what would happen in Europe in 1914 or 1939 if the sides of the conflict had nuclear weapons. In the battle of Somme 600 thousand men died in September of 1916 and the Europeans didn’t even blink – they continued on.
The key country in the Intermarium concept is Poland, which is now leading this multinational coalition in trying to pressure the EU into enacting pro-sovereignty reforms and decentralization, challenging the economic status quo. U.S. sponsorship, moreover, directly challenges one of Europe’s most defining institutions, NATO.
The Intermarium sets the stage of a more integrated economic drive. It will be in the EU, but it will behave differently from the EU – more entrepreneurial, more closely resembling the United States.
Poland is attempting a game-changing geostrategic pivot while technically under the boot of a foreign power, in this case Brussels (shadow-managed by Berlin) to forge a Central and Eastern European union. If it can pull it all off, then the country will once again earn its place in history as one of Europe’s Great Powers.
Tom Kubiak is the author of The Traveler