This is Part III of the Keynote speech delivered at ESIL’s 10th Anniversary Conference, held in Vienna, 4-6 September 2014. Parts I and II were published last week. The full version will be published in EJIL in a subsequent issue.
It is time to cry “Wolf” – since Europe finds itself with its basic, most fundamental, if often unstated, assumptions of security evaporating. Of course it would be fanciful, undesirable and unnecessary to imagine that the Pax Americana could be replaced by some form of Pax Europea. Unnecessary because the USA is not disappearing. But the evident weakening of its constraining and restraining power — the Authoritativeness Deficit — has to be made somehow whole.
So what role for Europe? Surely it does not mean and should not mean that Europe would simply fill in the American gaps and play a slightly or significantly more sonorous second fiddle to the USA by, for example, making a heftier contribution to NATO. It means, in the first place, that Europe has seriously to reassess its own self understanding of its global responsibilities. Though this might seem a platitudinous and hence easy to achieve step, it is arguably the most difficult and crucial if, indeed, it is not to remain platitudinous and would represent a veritable shift in political consciousness. In the second place it has seriously to upgrade its autonomous Global Authoritativeness, its own constraining and restraining power and from that, and in that, position interact with the USA and the rest of the world. Not a superpower, but an indispensable power. It is a tall order but setting for a moment politics aside, not an impossible one, since the actual toolkit does not need to be created ex nihili.
Sure, militarily, Europe’s credibility is risible, and has been so for long. Think Bosnia and Kosovo, think even Libya. But it is in the paradoxical position that militarily, the European whole is smaller than the sum of the parts. This well known paradox, the result of national interests, jealousies, pride, inertia not to say pettiness, is startling, but it is also a silver lining since there is a huge amount of already existing capacity simply terribly badly utlized. Europe’s economic clout, as a trading bloc, is second to none, greater than most and potentially a formidable tool of foreign policy and security, glimmers of which could be witnessed as Europe finally began to get its act together in the Ukraine crisis, but therein lies the rub – its ability to get its act together. Politically, too, one does not start from zero. United (when it is) in its rich diversity offers a veritable European foreign policy an interesting, even unique potential of foreign action utilizing historical ties and connections of its various Member States as points of entry, bridge and alliance building towards friend and foe alike and the ability to converse with nuance and in multiple political idioms. Morally, both nationally and in the form of the European Union Europe has effectively shed its colonial baggage and it does not carry nearly the weight of suspicion with which US foreign policy is encumbered. Effectively melded together and used with the kind of adroitness which some of the individual Member States are renowned for, simply underscores the potential of existing capacities even before any serious upgrading is to take place. One is not starting from Zero. Read the rest of this entry…