by Andrew Rettman
19 April 2013
Brzezinski believes the new
EU-US trade zone could also transform Russia,
leaving it no alternative but
US academic and former statesman,
Zbigniew Brzezinski, has said Western democracies should
create a trans-Atlantic trade bloc to counterbalance Chinese power.
The 85-year-old, who was a US national security advisor at the height of the
Cold War, spoke at the
Globsec conference in Bratislava on
Thursday (18 April 2013) to an audience of central European VIPs.
He recalled drinking a beer in the Slovak capital with Czech
artist-politician Vaclav Havel shortly after the fall of the Iron Curtain
and having "a kind of exuberant feeling" about the future of Europe and the
emergence of the US as a benign superpower.
But he said Europe failed to fulfill its promise, while the US weakened
itself by invading Iraq.
"Europe's main problem is that today's
European Union is a Europe more of banks than of people, more of
commercial convenience than an emotional commitment of the European
peoples," he said.
He criticized the UK for putting the interests
of The City above all else.
He said some eastern countries treat the EU as
"a piggy bank" of subsidies, while "complacent" and "self-indulgent"
southern countries' top priority is to get bailouts from the north.
"In Western Europe today, there is a dearth
of historical imagination and of global ambition. There is no Churchill,
no De Gaulle, no Adenauer. Current political discourse is dominated by
narrow perspectives," he noted, referring to Europe's post-WWII
"Europe's lack of global ambition makes for excessive reliance on
America [as a security provider] and makes the American public more
skeptical of Europe," he added.
On the US side, he said the $3 trillion Iraq war
hobbled its economy and delegitimized its authority.
"Just think of the recent UN vote on
Palestine's status… The Americans organized a worldwide diplomatic
effort to prevent it from happening and out of 190 countries, it gained
seven supporters," he said.
In the context of China's growing economic and
military power, he said the creation of an EU-US free trade zone could
revive trans-Atlantic relations and create a new geopolitical equilibrium.
"There is enormous promise in that concept,"
"It can create additional trans-Atlantic bonds… It can shape a new
balance between the Pacific and the Atlantic oceanic regions, while at
the same time generating in the West a new vitality, more security and
greater cohesion," he added.
Zbigniew Brzezinski's Press Conference at GLOBSEC 2013
For his part, Estonian President Toomas Ilves,
speaking at the same event on Friday, shared Brzezinski's concerns.
"If the US is becoming less interested in
Europe [in terms of providing security]… it means we have to slap our
faces, to wake up and say 'What are we going to do?' It's still a
Hobbesian world out there," he said, referring to the 17th
century British philosopher Thomas Hobbes and his vision of a
The EU commissioner for administrative affairs,
Maros Sefcovic, also placed great hope in the potential EU-US trade
He noted that it would give the two sides an economic advantage in terms of
de facto control of global industrial standards.
"If the Americans and the Europeans agree
that this is the standard [for a given product] then that automatically
becomes the world standard," he said.
He urged EU countries to adopt a negotiating
mandate before July and said parts of the pact could be "initialed" before
Looking inwardly into the Union, he echoed Brzezinski's concern that EU
institutions, national governments and average Europeans lack joint
Noting that the European Commission will in future be able to veto member
states' national budgets under the so-called European Semester laws, he
"The commission in its history never had
more power than it has now."
But he wondered what will happen when Brussels
tries to wield its new instruments.
"In September or October, the commission
will send letters to Estonia or to France saying: 'Show us your budgets.
We want to see them first to see if they're sustainable.' Then we will
have to have a conversation on how to combine this deeper integration
with democratic scrutiny," he said.
"When I present this to the Bundestag… people might say: 'Who is this
man from Brussels telling us what to do?'," he noted.