Why the American Election of 2020 is crucial for the Hellenic role in Europe? The Hellenic strategy

US President Donald J. Trump (C-L) and US First Lady Melania Trump (C-R) arrive at the Governors’ Ball at the White House in Washington, USA, 09 February 2020. Trump was found not guilty on two articles of impeachment on 05 February after a two-week trial. EPA,ALEX WROBLEWSKI, POOL


It was always important to study the American political system, especially, when we desire to forecast tendencies which evolve in international affairs.

The domestic politics of a superpower could undoubtedly cause consequences for the whole international system. The American election of 2020 comprises a crossroads not only for America itself but for every country in the world. Could we find an impact concerning Europe and the Hellenic foreign policy in the Mediterranean?

We could compare the American foreign policy with a Cadillac which selects gears. The usage of Cadillac’s gearbox always depends on the road that the famous car passes through. We have already seen through history, the American isolationism, (or non-interventionism) the American entrance in world politics, (Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman) the American ”adventurism” and the American unilateralism.

And now? What gear selected the Cadillac’s driver?

  • It is a very difficult question to answer but there are several indicators that prove that Trump’s policies consist of a contradictory mixture of neoconservative Wilsonism and Isolationism. In other words, the USA has not only chosen to keep a distance from allies and enemies but also, to act unilaterally wherever and whenever it claims that its interests are threatened.
  • That conversation has been taking place for at least three decades. It was no sooner than at the end of the Cold War that Senators, academics, analysts, and decision-makers in Washington, argued about the future of the American foreign policy. This debate is still taking place.
  • The main dilemma of American decision-makers is whether the USA could intervene in world politics and whether it could keep a distance from them.

In the middle of the 1970s, Stephen Krasner, Charles Kindleberger, and Robert Gilpin had already argued that their theory of Hegemonic Stability, would ease the American dilemma. According to that theory, the most powerful state in world politics could provide services such as collective security, free trade, and an order under the rule of international law. This theory is still the pattern of those who support active American involvement in international relations.

What if America had chosen suddenly the road that drives to isolationism?

The instability that has already been described by John .J Mearsheimer as ”Back to the Future”* would take place around the world, undermining the global peace. The active participation of the USA in world politics with a way of a selective engagement is of high importance for the entire world. Especially for European stability and thus, the Mediterranean ones.

The current driver of the so-called Cadillac is Donald Trump. The most unpredictable POTUS that the US probably has ever seen. It is very difficult to make clear comments about Trump’s foreign policy. Even if Ronald Reagan’s figure is convenient to be compared with Trump’s politics, we should underline that Reagan was POTUS at the end of the Cold War Era and Trump is an American President who should be aware of the new multipolar system in which China is the peer and for now, and Russia tries to subvert the American world order.

We can’t compare different periods among them. If we carefully examine the Trump’s foreign policy, we will unfold American principles regarding foreign policy. The narrative of the Axis of Evil is alive and kicking in Trump’s administration. Trump has already got tough with North Korea, Iran, Venezuela.

On the other side, these unilateral policies towards rogue states contradict policies that remind us of the non-interventionism strategy which is traditional in the USA. As an example, we should carefully remember the actions and rhetoric of Trump which comprise his policy towards the Middle East. Trump’s strategy towards Syria, left a huge vacuum of power and that vacuum benefited Turkey and Russia. Turkey violates constantly the treaties which call for a peaceful resolution of disputes.

Examining the Turkish policy provides us the perfect example, of how American non-interventionism could be perceived as a neglection and appeasement for revisionary regional powers as Ankara projects. Furthermore, the most important source of American power is its allies.

When the American allies see the American neglection of the Kurds, they augment their concerns about the credibility of the USA regarding on how the Americans are committed allies in security issues. Policy -like nature itself- hates the vacuum too. Other powers are ready to exploit the current American policy in order to harass the American-made status quo.

  • The policy American selective engagement could never present indifference and neglection about regions like the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean. Isolationism and unilateralism are obsolete attitudes for the multipolar world. Europe is also crucial for American foreign policy and it always was. Alfred Mahan, Nicholas Spykman and George Kennan had completely understood that American prosperity and security, is fully correlated with European politics.
  • The consequences of Brexit will be of high impact on American interests in Europe. The strongest military power in Europe is now out of the EU. The vacuum of power is again the main issue for the USA and that vacuum couldn’t be displaced with American non-interventionism or isolationism. This is the main reason that the American Election of 2020 is significant for Europe and especially for Hellas and Cyprus.

The result of the next American Election will define the mixture of American foreign policy. At the moment, the American Cadillac is running with two gears: Unilateralism and Isolationism. Trump’s administration thinks that holding a strong position against Iran and North Korea and competing with China, are enough actions for American foreign policy. This perception is totally wrong.

Competing China’s strategy means that the Spykman’s Rimland is controlled by the USA. China’s One Belt – One Road has as a goal to connect China with Central Asia, Europe, and Africa. In the multipolar world, the USA should be everywhere. Not militarily, but economically, politically and using the American soft power. The protection of international law from the USA should be the first American principal because by using that, the USA will achieve its goal, to deter the ascend of any regional power which aspires to overthrow the current status quo and international order. And what about Hellenism?

Hellas and Cyprus have made the right choice in the Mediterranean.

The Hellenic strategy aims to spread cooperation in the region and connect the EU with Israel and Egypt. Moreover, a new European strategic alliance among Hellas, Cyprus, and France is rising. The new security architecture in Europe (after Brexit) needs an active France which will deter the German monopoly in Europe. European vacuum of power that left the Brexit could be displaced at some point, by France. President Macron has already declared that France and Hellas will work together on many issues that bring the Mediterranean and the European South at the forefront again, putting an end to Germany’s neglect towards Southern Europe.

  • If we use the Brzezinski’s jargon, France would be a credible pivotal state for the USA in Europe. France is simultaneously a North-European state and a South-European. That means that every alliance in Europe which could stabilize the region, calls for active American support which will bring again the American allies on a trustworthy level towards the USA and will exclude unilaterally illegal actions like Turkey’s. Given that the Hellenic – American relations are on their highest level, the American Elections of 2020 is critical for their further growth.

A potential further improvement of Hellenic American relations depends on how the next American Presidential Election will result. The Mediterranean alliances that upgraded the Hellenic regional role, are also directly correlated with the American commitment in the area.

  • (*) Alexander Drivas: Research Fellow – HALC, Ph.D. Cand. (Hellenic-American Relations after the Cold War Era)

The next phase: The reception for Prime Minister of Greece in Washington was remarkable


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