John Vinocur: Euroskeptic?
John Vinocur, who writes the "Politicus" column for the International Herald Tribune, has a recent article there, "Frankness Would Serve Europe Well," in which he analyzes precisely how dishonest the European Union has been with itself over the past decade. It has dreamed dreams of political and military power in the world while knowingly mismanaging its economic union, and thereby failing in all three:
Involving cooked books, the averted eyes of officials, and the E.U. big players' painless disregard of the euro zone's deficit criteria, Europe's disdain for frankness with itself lasted for a good part of a decade until markets and ratings agencies caught on, leaving Europe to a financial and monetary crisis without a sure resolution in sight.But as another less-than-frank empire builder once observed, "All is not lost":
Now, Europe as a political project of remarkable ambition is entering a new phase where its supply of grace and favor are nearly exhausted. The suspension of disbelief granted for years by much of the world to the idea Europe might soon function as a superpower -- the same gift of plausibility that a theater audience extends a play's actors and fairly incredible plot -- is worn thin . . . .
And [as for] Europe's coming of age as a global force, unified politically and bolstered by a palpably developing European defense structure giving European foreign policy an element of independent power projection? These days, there are next to no takers for such long-shot bets.
The European Union is not dead: its regulatory network alone brings vast and practical meaning to the idea of a single Europe. But held up against the reality of political performance and economic perspective, the E.U.'s grand aspirations to relevance and world decision-making, based on its claims to internal unity and solidarity, are devalued.No, all is not lost, but lacking political leadership, the EU has had to confront this crisis without an ability to act quickly, a situation that the European heads of state created:
Europe, in full comprehension of what it was doing, decided last year to give the posts of president and high representative for foreign affairs created in its new constitution to two earnest but modest candidates who could not lead.Mr. Vinocur is saying much the same as I have also recently said, though he says it rather better. Without an effective political center, Europe's economic and monetary union will continue to disappoint . . . to say nothing of its minimal military power and futile foreign policy of its distant dream of rising once again to world-historical significance.
Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, specifically, did not want the presidential candidacy of Tony Blair. Just months later, in a time of crisis, their decision has left the E.U. without a person capable of embodying the kind of notional authority the constitution was meant to provide.