In all the shock and awe about the events of the pasts weeks – the middle East, Japan, the astronomically food prices, the question of energy waste, the cold war of political division in the US – Europe has been quiet. But only apparently so.
Now, over the question of Lybia, the Hydra is raising it’s head.
Europe has been dominated by an unholy entente d’ raison between Germany, France and Britain. And apart from a certain interest in their own national wealth and political stability, as the foundation of economic power, they couldn’t be more different and frankly, neither do they understand, nor do they like or trust each other.
Three languages, three peoples, three positions – unified by…greed ?
Over my lifetime I have seen European borders disappear. Austria is a tiny, land-locked country with (currently) eight neighbors. We used to carry our passports all the time, because if one went in one direction for a bit, you’d be required to show it. Nowadays the old check-points at the borders have been abandoned, and cross-borders are easy to miss, if you don’t pay attention,
But make no mistake – there may be no border, but you are still crossing into another country with totally different characteristics, systems, heritage, and more often than not – language.
Now, over the action taken on Lybia, as well as the question of atomic power, the split is becoming very apparent.
“Germany’s postwar aversion to war and nuclear power has led to two decisions, which are symptomatic for the deep split between European nations:
By abstaining in the Security Council on the resolution authorizing military action to protect Libyan civilians — and by refusing on Wednesday to participate in the enforcement of an arms embargo on Libya that the United Nations authorized — Germany pointedly refused to go along with the political aims and leadership of its two most important European allies, Britain and France, as well as the United States. The decision made the idea of a united European foreign policy seem further away than ever, even if France had broken solidarity first by suddenly recognizing the Libyan opposition as the legitimate government of the country.
And by choosing to shut down seven older nuclear plants in Germany after the nuclear crisis in Japan, Mrs. Merkel reversed her own policy and further ruffled relations with France, which derives 75 percent of its electric power from nuclear plants.
The new strains come weeks after Germany issued demands for economic austerity in the countries that use the euro as the price for new loan guarantees to troubled countries like Greece and Ireland. Portugal is thought by many to be next in line for a bailout. Germany, the richest and largest member of the European Union, has been tough and not always diplomatic in refusing to come to the aid of more profligate countries unless they undergo painful budget cuts and economic restructuring.” ( Germany steps away from European unity, NYT Mar 23rd, 2011)
So this is in store for the European countries – finding unity over the questions that separates them. The European Union has always been a more idealistic vision than a political reality, even the adoption of a single currency has never been a full-hearted pledge to peaceful cooperation.
Today Europe is facing the forces that divides their countries: nationalism, history and a deep sense of distrust. Also, Europe is facing the forces that unified them over the past decades – fear, greed and an ostensive kow-tow to US hegemony.
Stay tuned. The divisive questions of Europe are: Nuclear power, Nato and Net Domestic Product ( NDP= GDP-Depreciation). And to me it is interesting to see that actually Germany may be in a very favorable position to lead by example on a road to a truly unified Europe. A Europe unified by ” Liberté, égalité, fraternité” as opposed to a Europe unified by thinly masked national interest to protect holy cows and keep their neighbors quiet.
In these days, nothing remains hidden, everything is coming to the surface.