Veranstaltungen: Dokumentation

9.9.2003 | Von:
Christian Hacke

Disputing a New World Order

The Position of Europe in the Transatlantic Context

1. At the threshold to the 21st century, European integration, the most successful major political project in recent history, is stalling. A centralist, bureaucratic behemoth, without overarching idea or vision, Europe can not muster a unified, passionate policy. Instead, there is a clear and present danger that Europe might increasingly seek to develop an identity by distancing itself from the United States.

2. Today, Europe has to choose between two contrasting visions of its future. On the one hand, there is the vision of an Atlantic Europe, an "Atlantic Civilization" that builds on the Anglo-Saxon "special relationship" and new partners, such as Spain, Italy, Poland, and others. The "Carolingian" vision on the other hand promotes a Europe led by France, supported by Germany and Russia.

3. This leads to a twin schism of the West: between Europe and the US as well as within Europe itself. Regarding the situation during the war in Iraq, one could speak of a bizarre "dual containment" in Europe: The hard core of Old Europe–centered around France and Germany and possibly supported by Russia–seeks to break America's aspirations for global hegemony, while the United States and its new European allies in Central and Eastern Europe seek to contain Franco-German power on the continent.

4. The disjointed fragments that are European foreign policy remain fixed on the US, driven by American interests and policies rather than by a genuinely European vision.

5. To many young democrats in Central and Eastern Europe, the EU is becoming a socialist monstrum, suppressing individual freedom by creating a giant bureaucratic, centralist super-state. 6. In past decades, the process of European integration was moving without the need for a unifying enemy. Now, however, French and Germans seem to paint the US as an antagonist in order to solidify European identity (compare the suggestions by Jürgen Habermas) while simultaneously camouflaging the democracy deficit at the heart of the European project. However, such an "identity ex negativo" will not stand the test of time.

7. A European independence from the US in matters of security policy and military strategy is an illusion, because this is too expensive, politically not feasible, and, after all, not really desired by European politicians. Therefore, to increase the already existing European strength in terms of soft power (civilizational attractiveness etc.) seems the more promising way to go.

8. In order to escape political marginalization, Europeans need to advance major reforms of the EU and the UN. There can only be progress towards the necessary common foreign policy if–among other steps–the EU reforms its policy of subsidies and its internal structure, and if France and Great Britain renounce their seats in the UN security council in favour of a single European one.

9. The America-friendly position of most new EU-members in Eastern Europe is not to be interpreted as a break from Old Europe, but rather as a result of a sober calculation of national interests.

10. Because of ongoing moral and historical inner conflicts, Europe can neither keep entirely out of conflicts nor engage forcefully and effectively–it's diplomatic to and fro is always messy, comes too late, and is all too often an expression of the Europeans' search for their collective identity.

11. Operation Artemis in Congo could signify a departure from this rule. At least, it demonstrates European (particularly French) resolve to conduct an effective common foreign policy operation outside of Europe. At the same time, however, this operation stands for the incoherence of European Africa policy, because Europeans–much more so than the US–continue to support oppressive African regimes in favour of petty business interests.

12. Concerning Iran, the "typically European" soft diplomacy of the "Critical Dialogue" has experienced a major defeat. Although the American approach can not be said to reap better results, the European way contributed to the rekindling of current tensions between Iraq and the West.

13. In the long run, the Bush presidency might very well not be remembered for conquering Baghdad and toppling a vicious regime, but for a policy that triggered both soft and hard balancing against American hegemony.

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