OPINION

Brave new world

Few people would be willing to contend today that we have indeed reached the «end of history,» once heralded as the undisputed dogma of the post-Cold War era. The collapse of state socialism opened the path for the domination of free market models, yet fell well short of eliminating the causes of international discord. Wars over resources and clashes between different cultural values never vanished. The disappearance of the Soviet Union as the «significant other» merely shifted the divisions within the contours of the Western world. The withdrawal of the communist superpower from the international arena prompted a growing American unilateralism whereby Washington, the unmatched global superpower, seems unwilling to seek the consensus of its allies. This go-it-alone attitude has irked many of the big European powers – and a vast proportion of European citizens – not only because they dislike its style and cultural dimension, but also because they fear the prospect of a conflict between American and European policies, which is even more likely to break out in the (hoped-for) context of an emancipated and unified Europe. The depth of these new cracks seems to indicate that the two sides had been looking for a pretext to differ, and found one in the question of Iraq. As the need to disarm the Iraqi regime and its supposed threat to international security appear to be more a pretext than a genuine reason for America’s intervention, the prospect of war revealed Washington’s vision of reshaping the region and gave birth to a new threat to powers as diverse as the EU’s Franco-German powerhouse, Russia and China. Old allies have suddenly become estranged and some actually veered toward their former enemies. Global certainties are challenged. Traditional patterns of nascent global coalitions are swiftly changing. In this context, the ruptures and the wave of fresh rapprochement have both intensified within the EU, where the forces of European emancipation clash with those that seek to sustain the Continent’s ties with Washington. Although some compromise solutions have been reached for the time being, the dilemma may soon become acute. Greece must be prepared to give its own answer.