Wednesday, May 26, 2010

John Vinocur: Euroskeptic?

John Vinocur

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.

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.
But as another less-than-frank empire builder once observed, "All is not lost":
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.

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.
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.

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At 4:03 AM, Blogger Jules Aimé said...

"... lacking political leadership, the EU has had to confront this crisis without an ability to act quickly..."

True enough but I can also see why Merkel and Sarkozy would balk at a Blair presidency; I cans see why they didn't trust him even if I do not share those fears. At times like this, I marvel at the wisdom of Madison who saw that a government that can act effectively when it is really needed must be sufficiently restrained that it is very difficult and sometimes impossible to make it act when it isn't really needed.

At 4:44 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I think that Europe's problem is structural. It lacks a political center to make decisions and bear responsibility for those decisions, but even if it had that center, the problem of the so-called "democratic deficit" would remain.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:27 AM, Blogger sman said...

did I miss something? the measure of a unified state (nation) is its sovereign military authority. Until the EU subsumes a US-less NATO into its own ESDI, it can never float a credible deficit, hence will always be a loss-leader in the community of world-power brokers.

At 12:54 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Miss something? From Vinocur's article? I don't know. Could you clarify your point? Vinocur also mentions the need for "developing [a] European defense structure," so you don't seem to be disagreeing with him on that point.

At any rate, I think that the EU would need a political center to decide on economic policy, foreign policy, and military policy, among other things essential to a state.

I suppose that we might all three agree with Napoleon, that every country has a military -- its own, or somebody else's.

Jeffery Hodges

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