- With the United States becoming bogged down in Iraq, how ready might the European Union (EU) be to pick up the slack in global affairs left by the diminishment of American power?
I’ve been in Europe for nearly six weeks – in Britain, Belgium, and here in northern France. My clear impression is that the EU is too divided and too concerned with pressing internal issues to provide any real alternative to the role the US plays in world affairs. Expect China and India to fill that vacuum instead.
Then, after a quick romp through a few of the political issues now facing European countries, it concludes thus:
- Today’s Europe is an exciting, engaging place to be. Most European economies are humming. The publics here are dealing with challenging issues of governance, including how to build a multicultural community that works for all its citizens. But there isn’t much appetite or energy for running the wider world as well.
As Washington deals with the challenges that lie ahead in Iraq and elsewhere around the globe, it won’t find a strong, unified Europe standing at its side. Perhaps the best help European countries can provide is to reassure Americans that life can still be good even after a retrenchment from global empire.
When I was first planning this column, I was thinking of looking at the potential Europe has to play a strong role– distinct from the US role– in the Middle East. But the more I thought about it the more it seemed clear that I should take the broader view to see the potential for Europe to play a strong (and independent) role in the world as a whole. What remains from my earlier conception is the framing of the question as to whether the EU could “provide any real alternative to the role the US plays”… and the conclusion that No, actually the EU countries are too divided amongst themselves, and too busy with matters of internal governance, to have much “appetite or energy for running the wider world as well.”
Anyway, I wrote the first draft of the piece on Monday. My editors at the CSM needed to cut it quite a bit and we then had a bit of friendly to and fro on how to do that.
The paragraph about the emergence of Scottish-ness and English-ness refers to something new and very interesting indeed. I think I’ll write a whole separate blog post about that.