Corridors of Power: Merkel’s Swansong, the Pentagon’s Mess and Middle East Warnings

Corridors of Power: Merkel’s Swansong, the Pentagon’s Mess and Middle East Warnings

Editor's Note: Corridor's of Power, written by WPR Editor-at-Large Roland Flamini, appears every Monday in World Politics Review.

RHINEMAIDEN'S SWANSONG -- The grand finale of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's six months as president of the European Union (Portugal takes over next week) was not exactly a triumph, but it wasn't Gotterdammerung either. To stick with Wagnerian metaphors, it was more The Flying Dutchman, in which the 27-nation European Union is destined to sail eternally from one compromise to another. Still, at last week's EU summit Merkel -- reportedly with an energetic assist from French President Nicolas Sarkozy -- seems to have rescued the EU constitution from oblivion by paring it down, renaming it a "reform treaty," and removing some of the items that caused French and Dutch voters to reject it in separate referendums two years ago.

As usual with the European Union, the devil is in the details. When not wrestling with the mathematical formulas that will determine the voting power of each member country, with Poland playing its now familiar role of difficult customer, the summit eliminated the proposed post of EU foreign minister, defining it instead as EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security. It's not clear what the difference is, but the move pleased the British.

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