Saving Europe from Itself
“While a unified Europe may some time in the next century act as a single power, its initial disarray and disjointed national responses to the crisis in the Persian Gulf again illustrate that ‘Europe’ does not qualify even as a player on the world stage.” This sharp judgment, rendered in the authoritative pages of Foreign Affairs, gives a fair idea of how Europe’s position in the world after the Gulf crisis is perceived by outsiders, and even by some Europeans themselves. And indeed, Europe’s behavior during the war, both singly and as a plurality of different nations, supports the judgment: in this crisis, all organized political cooperation among the twelve nations of the European Community (EC) proved dramatically ineffective.
The inability of the EC to shape even the slightest role for itself was, some said, inevitable; these observers had long espoused the view that the EC member-states, given their divergent aims and ambitions, would always take autonomous positions on the world scene. Others, however, had been convinced that a new collective actor, with interests of its own that went beyond those of its constituent parts, should and would assume a place on the international chessboard. Now the two schools of thought have drawn from the events in the Gulf a lesson strictly coherent with their own convictions: the first, that the illusion of a common European stand in world affairs definitively capsized in the Persian Gulf; the second, that the crisis has proved even more urgently the need to join forces.
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