The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Europe Needs To Re-evaluate Its Importance And Its American Vassalization

Europe lives in a delusion:

What Europe thinks about China matters little. China needs Russia, which supplies food, fuel and minerals far more than it needs Europe. Further, Europe cannot be a reliable partner to China, because European countries are American satrapies. They don’t actually have independent foreign policy if the US puts pressure on, and the Ukraine war has tied them far closer to America. At the same time Europe is losing chunks of its industrial base to America due to increased input costs due to the cut-off from Russian resources.

Europe is an important trading partner for China, particular a buyer of Chinese exports, but the lesson of Russia/Ukraine is that such ties are not reliable. As the US puts more and more sanctions on China (who has invaded nobody) and Europe cooperates such ties become clear sunk costs: nice to have, but nothing to count on.

The US is treating China as its main threat, and girding for war, while trying to “friend-shore” industry away from China. They are arming Taiwan, and sending senior politicians to Taiwan. Sanctions proliferate. Europe does not stand against this.

So, Europe cannot be relied on, they cooperated with sanctions even before the Ukraine war. Russia, on the other hand, can be relied on because they need China as much or more than China needs them.

Further, the reason the US hasn’t gone full trade war with China is simple: the results for America would be disastrous. Many important items are now made entirely or predominantly in China. China would hurt from losing its second biggest customer (after ASEAN)  but the US would be crippled overnight. This applies as well to the EU. Shipping basic industry to someone you then decide to treat as an enemy is like handing someone your gun, then saying “I hate you and I want to kill you.”

Not smart.

China has the US and Europe over a barrel. Decoupling is not possible right now without catastrophe. Either the decoupling efforts succeed over a period of years (ten to fifteen at a minimum) or they don’t work, but China either gets time or if decoupling happens before that, it starts with the advantage of actually having physical plant and with its enemies crippled.

But Europe will have no real sway with China for as long as it is clearly a bunch of American vassal states. There is no way to make a deal with Europe which will be kept, because Europe does not have autonomy. Everyone knows that if America shoves hard, the Europeans will side with the US.

In any case, China has become the world’s premier auto exporter. Its first commercial jets are now rolling out. It is catching up in semiconductor manufacture. It is expanding trade with Africa and South America and now trades more than the US or Europe on both continents. It has made friends with both Iran and Saudi Arabia. Europe is losing exports and losing its technological advantage. Soon there Europe will mostly a customer, not a necessary supplier and in any case Europe, cooperating with American sanctions on China has already shown it is not a reliable supplier.

Given all this, European politicians, acting as if it is still 1970 or 2000, can croak and threaten and scold all they want. More sanctions are coming, China needs Russia and if China abandoned Russia, Europe would not be a reliable ally anyway.

This being the case, the odds of China abandoning Russia are essentially zero.

As for the Europeans, they need to understand that if they act as American vassals they will be treated as American vassals, which means no one who the US considers an enemy, and the US definitely considers China an enemy, can ever trust any deal with them.

Europe has made its bed. It had chances over the last twenty years to become its own power bloc, to declare itself free of American domination. It chose not to. It rises and falls with America, except that America has already shown it will cannibalize European industry and concerns whenever there is benefit to America.This is not the post-war “shared prosperity” period for the Western powers, it is dog-eat-dog and Europeans are living in a fantasy world. Even within Europe nations are acting against group interest.

The European garden is set to be filled with weeds and Europeans need to figure out a way to do more than manage decline. They might start by realizing that their interests and America’s interests are significantly different, and they might wish to stop with the ridiculous sanctimonious speeches to the Chinese. The Chinese are not abandoning a reliable ally who provides what they can’t make themselves for a few more years of not-very good relations with a Europe who obeys their enemy.

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  1. Stevia

    To break up with America, Europe would have to leave NATO and kick out the US military. The US has run operations like Gladio all over western Europe to keep their politicians in line. The docile subservience of European leaders seems like a function of a fear of having happen to them what happened to Olaf Palme. As both Biden and Schumer have said, the US can make things happen and no one will know.

  2. Ian Welsh

    Yeah, they needed to build their own military. I was saying so back in the early/mid 2000s. And, of course, NATO has to go, intelligence cooperation has to go, and US embassies have to be put under 24/7 surveillance, along with all diplomats, etc…, just as a start. The US absolutely cannot be trusted not to run coups/assassinations/propaganada ops against anyone.

    Like Hungary firing NATO trained generals.

    Should probably do a post on it, thanks for bringing it up.

  3. StewartM

    Shipping basic industry to someone you then decide to treat as an enemy is like handing someone your gun, then saying “I hate you and I want to kill you.”

    Not smart.

    This is what makes you a great read. Moreover, this reinforces my belief that our social betters are not some evil geniuses, but just incompetent fools. The latter makes more sense as now our politics and economy are directed by MBAs and lawyers, not by anyone with knowledge of technology and the sciences. By contrast, until recently, the Chinese government was a government by people with engineering degrees who knew how stuff got made.

  4. Tallifer

    I disagree. From my background in history and my careful persual of the news, I think that Europe, North America and the Pacific liberal democracies should do business, diplomacy and all the other stuff more closely together. Most of their citizens want more freedom and economic prosperity, and a growing majority want a more progressive society and action on climate change. Furthermore, China, India, Russia, Brazil and all the others will continue to stumble until they liberalize. (The West of course will truly decline if it follows the far right. Fortunately the political left in the West is not like in Venezuela.)

    This article “The Myth of Multipolarity: American Power’s Staying Power” supports this, but it is paywalled. I accessed it with some internetfu however.

  5. Feral Finster

    Good luck with that.

    Among the European governing class, questioning subservience to America is a faux pas on the level of questioning the European Union, or interrupting a High Papal Mass to demand that the person who just farted please identify himself.

    It doesn’t matter that the whole church stinks and that nobody believes a word of the Mass, You Just Don’t Do That, and Europeans, if they are nothing else, they are all about The Done Thing.

    To give one example, I recall sitting at a banquet table with a bunch of Eurobusiness types. Germans, mostly. All highly educated and credentialed. Very impressed with themselves. The entertainment was an opera singer, because, of course, the host organization had pretensions to being A Force For Culture.

    I can listen to opera, but watching these people sit through the music and, best of all, watching them pretend to like it, because that is what Cultured European Intellectuals are supposed to do, was 169% pure Comedy Gold. The sighs of relief when the entertainment was over were palpable, as were the expressions of pain on the listeners’ faces while the singer hit the bravissima high notes like she was stabbing an enraged Great Horned Owl.

    Fact is, Europeans *like* being slaves. Slaves don’t have to take responsibility or make decisions. And Europeans tell themselves that a house slave making dainties and luxury trinkets has it pretty good, compared with the life of a field slave toiling in a factory or a sweatshop in the Global South. Didn’t none other than Borrell say that Europe was a “garden”, compared to the “jungle” of the rest of the world?

  6. Feral Finster

    “As both Biden and Schumer have said, the US can make things happen and no one will know.”

    Hell, to take the example of Nordstream, everybody in Europe knows that it was the US that did it, possibly with the help of one or two lackeys.

    The European response is to stare at their shoes and shrug, trying to pretend that nothing happened and if it did, that it just fell out of the sky. Even when you can get a European to grudgingly admit the glaringly obvious fact that the United States committed an act of war against them, Europeans tell themselves that they deserved it somehow.

    “Beat me more, Master! I’m a bad slave!”

  7. Willy

    It’s tempting to say that we’ll soon be seeing Chinese cars sold at Harbor Freight under the Chicago Electric brand name (with strangely identical but far more expensive cars having more familiar brand names like Tesla and Samsung), but that might be a bit too low hanging fruitish.

    More likely is that Whirlpool will buy Boeing, fire most of its employees, and sell Chicago Electric planes under the once reliable Maytag name. I mean Boeing name. I doubt they’ll be sold at Harbor Freight though.

    I try to tell people that there are videos out there made by lifelong appliance repairmen who’ll tell you about the latest in corporate supply chain dismemberment, and also who to buy from if one wants better quality that lasts based on their own experience, but it seems that most brainwashed consumers would rather put their faith and hope in some Lowes ad. Then they’ll say the same prayer to bless their shiny new appliance as they do an ice cream cone they still want to eat after it fell on the ground.

    I can remember lawyer jokes from days of old. Maybe we need a few Austrian School jokes today. And MBA jokes too. And maybe a few about European vassal states starting to wonder just what kind of clusterfuck their America betters will be leading them into next.

  8. ventzu

    The West has for over 500 years exploited the rest of the world, for commodities, cheap labour, precious metals and ancient relics. The last 100 years saw the replacement of explicit colonialism with subversion and corruption of local elites in order to maintain the systems of domination and exploitation. The World Bank and IMF were the key agents to facilitate this.

    Well, both the Soviet Union and China had the wherewithal to remain independent. Russia had a set back with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the rampage of the oligarchs; but had a history to fall back on which enabled it to re-build. China remained quiet, all the while industrialising and learning.

    And meanwhile the West ran on fumes of exceptionalism.

    So, it’s not just about not being smart – which our “leaders” clearly are not (except in a self-serving narcissistic way). It is actually about a 500 year history of entitlement, superiority and exceptionalism. The arrogance seems to be built into the psyche.

    And now China – Russia facilitate peace between KSA and Iran, and between Syria and Turkey. Peace is in danger of breaking out in the Middle East after decades of Western divide and rule. And meanwhile the West is fabricating a war in Taiwan, whilst simultaneously fighting a proxy war to the last Ukrainian.

    There seems to be no neutral gear – one of cooperation and collaboration, It is always about coming out on top.

    The fact that the elite get away with it, without any meaningful challenge (nay, actually support) from the professional classes (let alone the masses) speaks to this inherent sense of superiority that has developed over 500 years. So it is arrogance at the root of the stupidity.

  9. ventzu

    To continue the thought . . . Europe’s vassalisation therefore is an outcome of a western elite that has only loose affiliation to a nation and its people, and of a widespread belief in the manifest destiny of Western civilisation (the garden vs the jungle as Borrell so aptly put it) over the rest, and whatever it does is for the best (even if that means turning a blind eye to sabotaging vital Nordstream gas pipelines).

    The elites don’t care, because they have never governed in the interests of the people. And the people will be bought off by fables of fighting to uphold democratic values and some economic crumbs.

  10. different clue


    The Republicans and Clintocrats who got Free Trade Agreements made and legislated were smart enough to know that a lot of the stuff which got made in America was made by unionized stuff-makers. They were evil enough to want to destroy all labor unions so as to re-impoverish American stuff-makers and soon-to-be disemployed former stuff-makers, and they were smart enough to realize that the way to destroy industrial unions was to destroy industry.

    Plus making all the money to be made by arbitraging stuff made under low-price overseas conditions and brought here to sell at near-former still-high prices here, and riding the arbitrage differential all the way down to zero.

    So my view remains that they did it on purpose with malice aforethought and they were smart enough to achieve the post-Soviet-Collapse levels of poverty and decay which they quite deliberately fostered and foster here.

    And their so-called “cold war” with China is about re-imposing and re-inforcing levels of social repression and obedience and control which existed at the peak of the Late Great Cold War.

    And they have achieved it all very competently. So I vote evil, not stupid or incompetent.

  11. Mark Level

    I’ll 2nd Stewart M, Ian, thank you for the detailed deep dive into European sychophancy to the Hegemonic and failing Empire. You have what is sometimes called a gimlet eye, an ability to see things without the blinders of idiotic biases or education-inculcated cant which which most “pundits” in “developed” (techno-blinded, money worshiping, shallow & dumbly materialistic as well as anti-humanistic) societies. (Sic as to society, since these same types, PMC or full-on MAGA have all accepted Ayn Rand’s & then Thatcher’s “There is no society, their is only the MARKET!!”) In fact, that is what makes you an actual pundit (from an Indian word for a sage or deep thinker; David Brooks would not be fit to shine an actual pundit’s sandals.) . . . The little I can add to what you cover is that I feel bad for the Europeans because the more they cater to the sociopath, degenerate (I use this adjective in primarily a medical and not necessarily moralistic sense, though that applies as well) Empire as it falls to pieces, the less they are respected and the more they can (& will) be sacrificed to the Empire’s very failed Crusade to submit all of humanity to our God the Market, as personified in the American “shining city” of mindless entertainment, toxic synthetic “food”, violence, retrograde religiosity & reactionary greed. For now their economies are being rapidly deindustrialized and disarmed (to provide for the failed Slavic crusade against the filthy Russkies who defeated Hitler & Bandera), soon they may be forcing these people to fight without the weapons they’ve already thrown away. I am completely incapable of seeing the specifics of how it will degenerate, but it certainly can’t go well. Some will, like the Fuhrer’s “good Germans” gladly march into their own extinction, the piggish Poles (Mr. Spiegelman certainly got that right in “Maus”) first, the supine Germans next . . . I would hope the French are fighting their own Abusers at home (as continues currently) instead of playing cannon fodder for the U$s endless NeoCon wars of conquest, and that perhaps the Spanish, many of whom my age & older actually recall living under fascism, and perhaps the Italians, far enough removed geographically from the latest failed color revolution, do decline to throw their “old Europe” (as Rumsfeld spat as an insult) down the Colonial drain, we shall see. I appreciate the first, Stevia comment also, yes, the European leaders must understand Gladio and fear it, but might also at some point realize that they have more to lose by capitulating than resisting, and seeing their whole societies consumed in another U$ proxy war. It’s going to end very, very badly for much of Europe. It’s going to go somewhat better for China, Russia, India, Hungary, Brazil etc. for awhile if they don’t lose the thread, possibly even Mexico in the more distant future? I can only think of the heroic resisters in the occupied Netherlands who were forced to manufacture bullets for the Reich and committed internal sabotage by not including the gunpowder so the shells were useless when fired by the retreating Germans on the Eastern front. Of course, many of these heroes were caught and punished, but think about the lives they saved in the long run, even as their own were endangered.

  12. mago

    Damn ML, those are some strong jabs with left and right hooks.
    Like the references. Maus especially. Maybe because I did a deep dive into it when teaching lit to renegade teenagers in a tropical latitude.
    Since Ian just posted new reflections, this comment is pasé on composition and I’m feeling free to just tap words onto a screen.
    I have fond memories of Mediterranean Spain and Northern Europe both when I lived there three and a half decades ago. Long gone days now.

  13. StewartM


    So I vote evil, not stupid or incompetent.

    The small southern town–and indeed, the whole county–I originally hailed from was a textile manufacturing area. I’m sure it was a key area in America’s WWII effort, where we not only made millions of uniforms for our own armed forces, but extra to send to the British/Commonwealth and Soviet forces.

    The workers who worked there in my boyhood were non-unionized, and glancing by their “mill houses”, they didn’t make much. In no way whatsoever where they compensated as well as say, UAW workers. But they got crushed by globalization too just as much if not more than the UAW. There are no textile mills in my small town anymore, it’s been gentrified to house commuters to the nearby big city.

    So, it wasn’t primarily about crushing unions. It was about PROFIT, pure and simple, and textile mill jobs were easier to ship abroad to than other kinds of jobs, even including union jobs. Crushing unions was a side benefit. It was done by calculations by MBAs for short-term profits with no thought of not only the possible importance of these industries to the nation as a whole, but even blind to the long-term futures of their particular business firms. It’s highly ironic that these same types, who tell plebes that they should “focus on long term results” in their 401ks are the very same types who manage their companies by weekly blips in the stock markets. If they’re so smart, then why do the companies they manage eventually go bankrupt?

    This goes back to previous postings and comments by Ian on the use of force, and how/why people delude themselves. The reason why the US went away from a mass conscript army to a small professional force I would argue has little to do with military science or competence; in fact, the US military performance excepting the first Iraq War (which wasn’t much of a contest, really) has been rather underwhelming. No, it was a structure to be used to maintain empire, to “shock and awe” some hopelessly outgunned nation to bring it or their leaders to heel. But it may not be sustainable in a long, ‘real’ war, and moreover, due to globalization a lot of the support industries that the US once had to maintain a large military for (like a textile industry!) are no more.

    So, in a matter as important as war (i.e., your survival) and you make decisions that make your military weaker and *more likely to lose* against a powerful opponent, all for a transient advantage, isn’t that the very definition of stupid?

  14. Feral Finster

    @ventzu: “The elites don’t care, because they have never governed in the interests of the people. And the people will be bought off by fables of fighting to uphold democratic values and some economic crumbs.”

    Europoliticians are proud of how out of touch they are, how little they care for what the public wants or even for what is perceived to be in the public interest.

  15. different clue


    I’ll meet you halfway. I will vote for evil AND stupid. I continue to think that the unionized heavy-thingmaking industries and their unions were a major target of the Free Trade conspirators. But the labor-and-conditions arbitrage opportunities they created were also created for the non-unionized industries of the so-called “Right To Work” states as well, who also lost out bigly thereby.

    I remember reading somewhere that in the final years of the Vietnam War, the US Army was experiencing enough fraggings of junior officers in the field, enough riots and rebellions on ships and on bases, etc. that the US Army realized that a large part of the draftee army had become highly disgruntled mil-trained former and future civilians who were not happy campers within the borders of military jurisdiction.

    The upper level officer class did not want to face such a mass of armed, trained and unhappy conscripts ever again. The way to avoid that was to move to a smaller staffing-levels professional army.

    How much of my memory on that might be correct?

  16. anon y'mouse

    this is my flippant response:

  17. Jorge

    @Feral Finster I grew up with an opera singer and greatly appreciate your description.

  18. StewartM


    The upper level officer class did not want to face such a mass of armed, trained and unhappy conscripts ever again. The way to avoid that was to move to a smaller staffing-levels professional army.

    Wikipedia agrees with you, at least:

    The breakdown of discipline, including fragging, was an important influence on the U.S. change to an all-volunteer military in place of conscription. The last conscript was inducted into the army in 1973.[13][14] The volunteer military moderated some of the coercive methods of discipline previously used to maintain order in military ranks.[5]: 183 

    However, paradoxically, if you read the whole article, you see fragging continued through Iraq.

    My rebuttal would be: the US forces in WWII did not have some huge problem with fragging, even though we were fighting a war on fronts continents away. American soldiers are willing to follow orders and risk their lives when there is a purpose and justification. Moreover, the conscript military of WWII ended up as probably the world’s finest and most capable the world had ever seen, overall, so it excelled in military competence. No professional army was needed for excellence.

    But getting US kids to fight for United Fruit and Exxon-Mobil and other wars of empire? Not so much excitement over that.

    This is in part why ‘the Founders’ wanted the defense of the US to rest on an army of citizen-soldiers, not “professionals”, and for both reasons of domestic and foreign policy I find it hard to find fault with their reasoning. You *want* soldiers for whom war is not their friggin’ “job” or “career”, for whom “normal life” is a civilian life back home, and who will balk at obeying illegal or senseless orders (like firing into a crowd of fellow Americans–or since I’m in Vietnam now, at a group of unarmed old men, women and children). Yes, such an army of civilian soldiers might very well, much to the angst of the neocons, be loathe to intervene everywhere in the world. But that’s a plus to me.

  19. Trinity

    I agree with everybody, as just different facets of the same problem.

    The main difference here is as always the main difference between collectivist societies, and the “entitlement, superiority and exceptionalism” version within which many of us grew up.

    So, instead of examining and understanding the causes of the disgruntled drafted military, the officers declare it unacceptable to have to deal with it. That’s arrogance, entitlement, superiority, etc.

    We now know the draftees were exactly correct in being disgruntled (and disgruntled doesn’t come close to describing the hell they were going through). We should know now that the officers’ response is definitely not a collectivist response, it’s a response that says “it’s all about meeeeeeeeee” that puts all issues squarely back within the frame of exceptionalism and entitlement of the “superiors” (the elites).

    And I will argue until I die that they are not stupid. The entitlement, superiority, and feelings of exceptionalism are on full display in the elite’s actions and their words. That entitlement means they (are) making stupid decisions, but they are only stupid in terms of our (non-elite) collective well being.

    Stupid is relative. Their sense of entitlement ensures our well being is never the issue, hence not stupid. Calling anyone else stupid is a claim to the mantle of superiority, but more importantly misses the underlying issues completely; it’s dismissive and unhelpful, just as was the officers’ response to a disgruntled military. Isn’t it also exceptionalism that is shown in actions that mow down people who look like immigrants? Or murder girlfriends who had an abortion? Or shootchildren and teachers in a school? Or when a young black person knocks on the wrong door, or goes jogging in the wrong neighbor?

    They are literally killing us, poisoning us, bankrupting us, turning us against each other slowly. So the one thing we don’t want to do is be dismissive about what’s going on. We need to understand it thoroughly, so we can better deal with it, and maybe even change it. We need to be aware we were incubated in a culture that promotes exceptionalism and superiority, and that we were taught to believe that wealth is an indicator of exceptionalism, instead of what it really indicates: corruption, dishonesty, and fraud.

  20. Mark Level

    I vote the same as StewartM, they are evil and stupid. The stupidity is based on arrogance. And yes, ventzu, Borrell (a “lefty”, “socialist”!! no less, at least the marketing says so) says the quiet part out loud– non-whites live in a filthy “jungle” with wild animals, the civilized exploiters have earned their beautiful “garden”. Oddly, here in the U$A, mass shootings are a special feature of our garden!! I wonder why?

  21. different clue


    Yes, the other response to the Vietnam Era Army Mutiny would have been to reserve armed force for fighting wars legitimate to fight for legitimate reasons. I suspect the Military Leadership knew very well that the Civilian Overlords would remain committed to Imperial Domination for decades into the future, and the Military Leadership was not prepared to overthrow the Civilian Overlords in order to put American Foreign policy back on a semi-isolationist track, so they wanted a professional volunteer army to have fewer future worries about any future force-wide disgruntlement.

  22. vlad

    I was always fascinated by this “Europe” concept. Basically, someone draws an arbitrary line somewhere on a landmass and declares that on one side there’s Europe and on the other there Asia. Why? “Because” 🙂

    “Europe” in this context is basically NW Europe(including UK). Which was a backwater noone cared about for the vast majority of history. And which somehow lucked out 500 years ago. Then, like any civilization, dutifully proceded to suicide themselves(100 years ago).

    it’s an overpopulated small patch of land, with a technological superiority that ceased to exist decades ago, with no resources, with an extremely good quality of life for what it actually produces. All that due to the previous centuries.

    The only rational position that this “Europe” could have is to try not to shake the apple cart. Just enjoy the situation for as long as it lasts. In the end, since Earth’s geography doesn’t change, it’ll revert to it’s normal backwater status. Even then, in an eurasian context, it’d be way better off than on the losing side; and without an ocean to retreat behind.

    instead it proceeds to start a fight with the provider(never do that), in the process managing to revive the biggest empire in history. “China and Russia are not allied”; sure, maybe not formally. But their strengths and needs are disgustingly complementary. It took a ton of effort to keep them apart. Effort that now went down the drain.

    All this happened while making sure everyone else on the planet hates “Europe”. Since the favourite sport seems to be preaching everyone about how superior “Europe” is. And how uncivilized they are. An attitude that will always bring you alot of fans 😉

    I seriously doubt US is the real problem here 😛 And no, I’m from eastern “Europe”, not the US. And definitely not a fan of US, in case it isn’t obvious.

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