Kagan on Embracing the EU

Robert Kagan takes a look at the European Union’s approach to neighbouring states in his Washington Post column (registration required) entitled ‘Embraceable EU’, a title which should give you a clue that the lazy and crass stereotypes regarding neo-conservatives are about to shattered again:

Except in matters of trade, Europe is not a global player in the traditional geopolitical sense of projecting power and influence far beyond its borders. Few Europeans even aspire to such a role. This means Americans should bury once and for all absurd worries about the rise of a hostile E.U. superpower — Europe will be neither hostile nor a superpower in the traditional sense. It also means Americans should stop looking to Europe to shoulder much of the global strategic burden beyond its environs.

But the crisis in Ukraine shows what an enormous and vital role Europe can play, and is playing, in shaping the politics and economies of nations and peoples along its ever-expanding border. This is no small matter. On the contrary, it is a task of monumental strategic importance for the United States as well as for Europeans. By accident of history and geography, the European paradise is surrounded on three sides by an unruly tangle of potentially catastrophic problems, from North Africa to Turkey and the Balkans to the increasingly contested borders of the former Soviet Union. This is an arc of crisis if ever there was one, and especially now with Putin’s play for a restoration of the old Russian empire.

In confronting these dangers, Europe brings a unique kind of power, not coercive military power but the power of attraction. The European Union has become a gigantic political and economic magnet whose greatest strength is the attractive pull it exerts on its neighbors. Europe’s foreign policy today is enlargement; its most potent foreign policy tool is what the E.U.’s Robert Cooper calls “the lure of membership.”

…… Cooper is not alone in his expansive European vision. Among leading European policymakers, Germany’s Joschka Fischer seems the most dedicated to using enlargement and the E.U.’s attractive power for strategic purposes. Before Sept. 11, 2001, Fischer was suspicious of bringing Turkey into the European Union and inheriting such nightmarish neighbors as Iraq and Syria. But now he regards Turkey’s membership as a strategic necessity. “To modernize an Islamic country based on the shared values of Europe would be almost a D-Day for Europe in the war against terror,” he argues, because it “would provide real proof that Islam and modernity, Islam and the rule of law . . . [and] this great cultural tradition and human rights are after all compatible.” This “would be the greatest positive challenge for these totalitarian and terrorist ideas.”

Americans could hardly disagree.

Hat Tip: Clive Davis, whose relatively new blog is on my essential daily reading list.