Where Is Europe? The Other World Powers No Longer Even Ask

In the background ...
In the background ...
Jacques Hubert-Rodier


PARIS — A historic, surreal handshake between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. A G7 summit in Canada that officially confirmed the rift between Europe and the United States on international trade. And, between these two events, Russia's Vladimir Putin, China's Xi Jinping and Iran's Hassan Rouhani gathered for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit alongside former Soviet republics, India and Pakistan. And at this meeting in the Chinese coastal city of Qingdao, there was one precise goal for Xi: to promote the so-called "New Silk Road" trading network.

It's as if the center of the world had shifted from the West to the East, and as if Europe was nothing more than a peripheral peninsula of Asia, between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.

President Trump and Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong on June 11 — Photo: Ministry of Communications and Information/ZUMA

Donald Trump's brutality towards his allies should have initiated a great "European moment" on issues as essential as the continent's defense or its unity in the face of Russian aggression in Europe and Syria. We're miles away from that. Brexit, the arrival of populist and "illiberal" governments in Hungary, Poland and Italy have opened up new divides, while Germany is facing serious self-doubts. In the face of migration, the reaction of European countries is to acknowledge their collective inability to develop a common vision.

Europe is still far from being able to free itself, militarily, from the United States.

On the defense front, Europe does not have a strategic vision either. At the next NATO summit in July, Europe will once again try to respond to the challenge set by Donald Trump. But despite laudable attempts, such as the creation of a European fund to increase its military capabilities or Angela Merkel's commitment to increase Germany's defense spending, Europe is still far from being able to free itself, militarily, from the United States.

Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world has entered a new phase. The American president can meet a North Korean dictator at a summit for the first time since the Panmunjeom armistice of 1953, or call for Russia's return in a new G8. Or he can still agree on international trade with Beijing behind the backs of Europeans. China can advance its pawns in Africa. And always, Europe is nowhere to be seen. It's true that, tomorrow, it is in Asia, in the South China Sea, that the risk of confrontation is the highest between the two rival superpowers of the 21st century, China and the United States. This is probably the lesson of the past week. By breaking up the unity of the G7, suggesting a reduction in U.S. military presence on the Korean peninsula, Trump may have given another card for Xi to play. And Europe never had a say.

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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