Part two of a look at the potential geopolitical futures, this time focussing on Europe.
Europe, the Old World, the centre of power for centuries. The largest empire the world has ever seen originated in Europe and influenced the entire world with its choices. But the massive destruction left in the wake of the two World Wars and ineffective leadership has reduced the strongest empires of the 16th-20th centuries to mere shadows of their former glory.
And yet the EU has the potential to return to its former glory, albeit in a very different form to before. The power of the United States is in decline with the rise of the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China), and it has shifted its gaze away from Europe to the Middle East and Asia post 9/11.
This has meant that much of the protection that the US offered Europe in the form of its nuclear arsenal, air superiority and large military has now been focussed elsewhere and Europe has been left relatively defenceless. Russia has already noticed this and has begun to influence Ex-Soviet states in Eastern Europe as well as France and Germany (More information).
Russia’s vast mineral, oil and gas rich economy is being powered mostly by Europeans. This means that Russia practically has Europe in a choke-hold and can wreak havoc across much of mainland Europe with the flick of a switch. Russia has already used this power in regards to disputes with the Ukraine not paying for gas. As many pipelines to the EU travel through Ukraine, 18 EU countries suffered severe losses of their gas supply in early 2009.
This produces two, very distinct, futures for the EU. In the first future, the EU continues to work as it does now; it bows down to Russia, China and the USA. The EU tries, and fails to be a significant player on the world stage due its inability to see beyond the past disagreements of the main member nations, the West European states and ineffective leaders and policies.
The ingrained prejudices of Europe will be difficult to throw off. There is a deep mistrust of many of the different nations in the UK, particularly the French, as well as three to four generations of wariness of the Germans. Millennia long feuds exist between member states and influence even the most basic of EU regulations.
There is also an attitude of the EU interfering in national issues, particularly in the UK. This mindset seems to stem from the remnants of the British Empire and how the British should not be governed, but be the governing body. There is a great amount of pride hidden behind the self-depreciation of the British and this stops them from fully embracing the potential of the EU.