OPINION

European losses

The common stance by the European Union on the problem of Iraq can only sadden those who believe in and have entrusted their hopes to the project of European unification. On the initiative of the Greek presidency, the 15 member states decided to bypass the problem. This was the only way to avoid a fruitless search for a non-existent common denominator. Given the present circumstances, should the EU leaders be caught up in such a discussion, it would only deepen the existing chasm and inflict yet another wound upon the deeply injured unity of the European Union. The decision of the Greek presidency to bypass the drama now and propose a common stance for the day after the war was not intended as a pretext. In essence, it was a desperate attempt to avoid the worst. The Spring Summit showed that the European Union as such is not yet ripe for the major step of emancipation from American guardianship and the formulation of a common foreign and defense policy. Washington’s influence is decisive for the countries of what US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld terms «Old Europe.» The imperial-style strategy and arrogant handling by George W. Bush’s administration have damaged Euro-American relations and aroused opposition from the public and from governments. But several of the latter still place high priority on safeguarding their relations with Washington, even when they disagree with its policy. This has resulted in immobilizing the European Union. Much could be improved if only President Bush were to listen to those voices within the United States that are pointing out the opportunistic nature of this policy and were he to change direction. Unfortunately, if we are to judge from his proclamation, he intends to add further links to the chain of crusader-type interventions after Iraq. In practice, this means that the leeway for reinstatement of the disturbed international balance will shrink alarmingly. If developments follow that line, the only outcome of the Greek presidency’s maneuver will be to save political time. The challenges and dilemmas will return with greater force and, next time, there won’t even be leeway for others to express wishes for what will happen the day after the war.