The EU’s Rise and Fall

Democracy Arsenal’s Max Bergmann takes the American foreign policy establishment to task for basically ignoring the EU, in a post he tiled, The EU and its Rise:

While conservative foreign policy thinkers have always dismissed the importance of the EU, the progressive foreign policy establishment has really not been much better. Most still abide by the view that the EU should not duplicate or infringe upon NATO and will point to the importance of continued enlargement of the EU into the Balkans and Turkey, but few actually seem to think that Europe will have any real role in foreign affairs besides sometimes backing the U.S. when we want to attack someone. We don’t really have any real grasp of what the emergence of the EU means for the U.S.

I agree with the thrust of Bergmann’s argument, as well as with his recommendation that we ought to encourage EU integration, including foreign policy and defense components that would allow Europe to weigh more heavily on the international scene. Sure, there will be disagreements on the details, but that’s probably healthy. On the core principles we’ve got way more in common than not.

The problem, of course, is that it’s not just Americans who have no real grasp of what the emergence of the EU means. Europeans don’t either. The debate of whether the EU should remain a common market or evolve into a supra-national entity is far from decided, and even if Europeans wind up choosing the latter, there’s no real consensus on what its international presence should look like. European defense is far from a rallying point, and further EU integration has remained a predominantly elite preoccupation, either suffered or actively resisted by the masses.

Bergmann critiques a recent article on transatlantic relations by saying it might as well have been written in 1998 as in 2008. No surprise, given that the EU institutional evolution has basically been frozen for a decade or more. What’s ironic is thatnow that a strong EU could actually prove very useful to American interests, it might be too late to achieve one.

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