Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The EU and Political Realism

The blunt comments by Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek to the European Parliament on Wednesday highlighted the key differences between European and American economic perspectives, especially concerning the upcoming summit on reviving the world's economy. Initially shocked by the outburst, the leader's of the EU's major nations--Germany, Britain, and France--quickly reaffirmed their good diplomatic ties with the United States, largely ignoring Topolanek's remarks. The current crisis has demonstrated a realist/intergovernmental perspective, where every policy is a proxy for national governments, who are unitary rational actors that move towards their own security and economic national interests. These sovereign states derive their source of power from military security and collective economic and defense interests. The 27-nation bloc has already been hounded by the United States for not
"spending enough to stimulate demand."
No country or indiviudal has yet responded so forcefully to the criticism except for Topolanek; the fact that the major EU countries decided to continue to reaffirm positive diplomatic relations with the United States, largely ignoring President Obamas administrations' criticisms, tugs at the very core of the realist and intergovernmentalist principles of power politics.

Moreover, with President Obama moving to call on NATO allies to commit more troops to the U.S. war in Afghanistan and aiming to thrash out global economic reforms with the G20 next week, the EU bloc nations look to the United States, rather than the supranational organization of the European Union, to garner support. The only reaction to U.S. criticism has been Topolanek's remarks that,
"All of these steps, these combinations and permanency is the road to hell. We need to read the history books and the lessons of history and the biggest success of the (EU) is the refusal to go this way."
To make an even a greater case for the weakness of the EU's supranational organization, after the hearing of Topolanek's speech a "no confidence vote" was issued Tuesday on the government in the Czech Republic, ousting Topolanek from his own parliament. Even the EU Commission feels that any reaction against the United States is
"not helpful ... to try to suggest that Americans and Europeans are coming with very different approaches to the crisis. On the contrary, what we are seeing is increased convergence."
The crisis has demonstrated that when put to a test the supranational body that is the European Union would rather release the bonds of collective interest, instead taking sides with or without the United States, hoping that each country can protect its own security and national interest before the interest of the continent. Prime Minister Tony Blair said it best, that British interest come
"first, second, and last."

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