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The Lisbon Treaty tried to lay those tracks by creating the Vice-Presidency of the Commission and High Representative for External Affairs. Nonetheless, regardless of how many different structures we implement and how many different names we give them, our Common Security and Defence needs to follow the guidance provided by the Common Foreign Policy. Unfortunately, this Common Foreign Policy is virtually non-existent. The very fact that the first person to incarnate the figure of European Minister of Foreign Affairs is a representative of a Nation best know in Brussels for its Euroscepticism and pro-Atlantic vision is reason enough to suspect the true intentions behind the nomination of Mrs. Ashton. Capable as she may be, one cannot help but to doubt her commitment with an independent Foreign and Seurity Policy by Europe and for Europe. Not that it is an easy task anyhow. Most member nations have their own view of what that policy should be in many respects incompatible with other members' view. The history of the EU shows us many different examples of divergent policies being proposed by the most important members of the Union. Typically, the UK advocates pro-Atlantic policies in which NATO is the reference for European Security and the trans-Atlantic link - which they embody in Europe - is paramount. At the opposite corner, across the Channel, France is the classical example of the pro-European view. Their vision that of a strong political union with a unified Foreign Policy and the means to implement it as independently from external pressure as feasible. As the referee, most of the times, Germany provides a pragmatic vision in which old rivalries and common interests with France act as positive and negative poles of a magnet both attracting and repulsing each other. While Belgium and the Netherlands gravitate in France's and Germany's spheres of influence, Southern European Nations tend to favor a strong common policy (Italy's support is as consistent as most of the rest of her policies in many respects), Eastern European Countries will either join forces with the UK in order to gain political leverage with the US or with Germany so that they favour their most important economic partner. Few agreements are reached in unison. For one thing, because twenty seven is a quite large number. Besides, commercial, political and geostrategic interests vary significantly for different nations. The long history of rivalry and competition among European Nations is embedded in the collective memory of their leaders and it will be very difficult to overcome. So far, it has been far easier to agree on topics which are irrelevant for the well-being of Europeans than on those which might make a difference for us. There is very little common ground on which to build a policy that will accommodate the interests of Nations with historic, strategic and commercial interests that used to be complementary more than to intersect. Favoring, for example, a Central African Security Force will be to the obvious benefit of France (and Central Africans if it comes to that) who has historical and commercial interests in the region. Increasing collaboration with Washington, on the other hand, is most likely in the interest of the UK, who is their favored partner. A border security operation in the Mediterranean region will primarily benefit Mediterranean Nations. Of course, there is always room for agreement in common interests as is the case of Atalanta, the Operation taking place out of the Horn of Africa to counter piracy in the area. With good reasons, all nations worldwide fear the closing of that choking point through which a very significant part of world trade transit. The very fact that China and India have sent their fleets to patrol the seas out of Somalia is proof enough.
One is still surprised that, being the goal of the EU's Security and Defence Policy to secure the member nations and the regions immediately adjacent, we are still favoring mission to Haiti or Afganistan over those in the Middle East or over migrations control towards the EU proper. If building the EU after Lisbon was not going to be easy in the best case scenario, building it after the bumpy road through which some nations had to transit until they finally approved the Treaty and in the midst of the worse financial crisis most of us can recall is going to demand the very best from everyone in the Union. That said, the fact that we are in a turning point in history and most nations need to rethink the role they play, we have to consider the current moment as a unique opportunity to re-define ourselves and build the Europe that our children and grandchildren will need instead of that which our parents or ourselves thought was best some years ago. The new reality which globalization brings along is so different from the one that saw the collapse of the Berlin Wall twenty years ago that, to reach this stage, we had to go through an intermediate one. The last years in the decade of the 80s and the first ones in the 90s bore witness to the end of the Cold War and the dual system it implied. Two huge powers, face by face, splitting the world between them. Two giants with no parallel who ruled over the rest uncontested. Then came Afganistan and the world saw in awe that the powerful Soviet Army was unable to defeat a country which had not been in the maps since Marco Polo travelled its dusty roads. The world knew then that there was something terribly wrong with the Big Bear. Afganistan was not so much the cause but the signal that the Soviet Union was unable to keep pace with the US economy. Most of the decisions taken by Gorbachev and his predecessor were influenced by the lack of resources more than by the will to open the society to free market criteria. In fact, few analysts doubt today that those decissions were intended to be the last line of defence for the Comunist Party. The fall of a little wall a few miles long in Berlin signaled the end of the boundaries that existed until then. Suddenly, the world was a large marketplace in which each one could claim his share if he was able to "swallow the bite". The world was global, whatever that meant. And what it meant was a "butterfly effect". The beat of the wings of a butterfly in one remote area of the world would affect the entire planet. There were no more enemies, there were no more worrying about the nuclear holocaust. The green bill reigned supreme and life was sweet and salty as Coke and Burger. For a brief moment, we thought we were safe. While some still celebrated and prepared to dismantle their arsenals, others saw the opportunity to seize the resources of the world to feed the machine. America was master of the Universe and so the world was theirs to use. Europe failed to take charge of their own problems and was unable to steer the situation in the Balkans. Uncle Sam had to come show the Europeans how to clean their own house. There were two consequences to that: Europe ceased to be an actor in the global scene and it lost credibility and the US ceased trusting their trans-Atlantic ally as he proved to be a weakling. It has to be difficult to be the uncontested power and not succumb to the temptation to use it. Who was going to stand in the way of the mightiest army? Who to challenge the strongest economy? "I have the power and I will not hesitate to use it". Europe had hesitated and lost it. So we spent ten years in which we did not need to think. They did for us. In fact, we would not dare think just in case our thoughts were not in line with the Master. What was the point? After all, Europe was covered. What remained of Russia was strong enough that its former rival
wanted to deny the possibility to resurrect. NATO grew all of a sudden like one of those desert flowers awaiting the rain to spread their leaves. We reached the very outskirts of Russia proper in Europe and new campaigns took bites in the rest of the former allies. Yugoslavia was torn to pieces and Iraq was invaded and subdued in what could have been regarded as an attempt to control the entire Gulf Region. Ten years went by from the First Gulf War (that which some call the Second as they regard the Iran-Iraq war as the First) until the rage that grew in Osama-bin-Laden as a consequence of it fell much more that two and a half buildings in the heart of the Empire. Most of the problems which arose worldwide during the XXth Century were a consequence of European policy during the XIXth and the early XXth. The results of the post-colonial split of territories and the sudden lost of governance which ensued the withdrawal of the European powers gave way to conflicts in which Europe had more to lose than to gain. Lyrics advocated to "live and let die" in "this ever-changing world in which we are living" if it made you "give in and cry" (McCartney, "007 Live and Let Die". Europe did in the wake of two World Wars which made us lose our identity. The US timed it perfectly to make the most of our old rivalries then and they do the same today. They let Europe bled until it was weak enough that, even the victors, will have to come begging. The first Secretary General of NATO used to say that the Alliance was designed to "keep the Americans in, the Soviets out and the Germans down". A handcuffed Germany meant - and means - a handicapped Europe. As long as petty interests deny us the possibility to work arm in arm for the same target, we will be a non-entity in the global chessboard. It will not be long before the financial leverage we still have, the imperialist aura and the advantage of having written history for so long vanish and Europe, even united, be no more.
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