The psychological condition known as Stockholm Syndrome, in which hostages irrationally sympathize with their captors, could well be applied to European leaders when it comes to US bullying.
The US has always been the dominant –and domineering– party in the transatlantic relationship. But past administrations in Washington have been careful to indulge European states as “partners” in a seemingly mutual alliance.
Under President Donald Trump, the Europeans are pushed around and hectored in a way that shows their true status as mere vassals to Washington.
Take the Nord Stream 2 project. The 1,220-kilometer-long undersea pipeline, which will significantly increase delivery of gas to Europe, is due to be completed by year’s end. The new supply stands to benefit the European Union’s economy, in particular Germany’s, by providing cheaper energy fuel to drive businesses and heat homes.
Yet last week, US Senator Ted Cruz threatened that his country “has the ability to halt” the entire project being completed. Cruz is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee which in July passed a bill that will impose sanctions on companies involved in the construction of the pipeline. Germany, Austria, France and Britain are part of the building consortium, along with Russia’s Gazprom.
Ironically, the Senate bill is called ‘Protecting Europe’s Energy Security’. It’s a curious form of ‘protection’ when US-threatened sanctions will deprive European businesses and consumers of affordable gas. Cruz, as with President Trump, has accused Russia of trying to tighten its economic grip on Europe. Closer to the truth, and more cynically, Washington wants Europe to buy its more expensive liquefied natural gas. Texas, the biggest source of US gas, is Cruz’s home state. Maybe his bill should be renamed ‘Protecting American Energy Exports.’
Related to that is the wider imposition of sanctions by Washington and Europe against Russia since 2014. Several reasons are cited for the punitive measures on Moscow, including alleged destabilization of Ukraine and the ‘annexation’ of Crimea, alleged interference in elections, and the dubious Skripal poisoning affair. The sanctions policy has largely been promoted by Washington, with Europe dutifully following.