Thursday, July 20, 2006

Can Europe do anything on the world stage?

Hefe rightly pointed out that France (and other European countries for that matter) are big fans of the UN and UN resolutions, but a little weak on enforcing them. I wholeheartedly agree!

Probably my biggest eye opener living in Europe is how little Europe walks the walk to match their talk. Take most any problem around the world and Europe is right there saying the right things. They have been condemning Khartoum for the genocide in Darfur, talking with Iran about nuclear missiles and (going back a few years) wanting Saddam to disarm.

Yet in each and every case, when it comes time to put troops on the ground, Europe has balked. This isn't to say that European countries won't fight. They have troops in the Balkans, Afghanistan and parts of Iraq. I'm arguing that European government's don't lead. They look to America to lead and then complain bitterly if we don't.

America should lead, but that doesn't let European governments off the hook.

As an example, take the Lebanon-Israel conflict. France has called on the UN for some action. Excellent! However, their proposal is simply posturing. "The French proposals, circulated among the other 14 security council members, call for "a comprehensive and lasting ceasefire", and express "extreme concern at the escalation of hostilities ... and at the deteriorating humanitarian situation and widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure"." How can the UN ever have a comprehensive and lasting ceasefire between Hezbollah and Israel? Hezbollah believes in the complete and ultimate destruction of Israel.

But let's get past the details and applaud France for doing something. It is certainly better than the Bush administration's hand's off approach. So France proposes something....can it get the other member states of the EU on board? The UK doesn't seem to agree with this proposal. Other leaders are lukewarm. Leadership is only leadership if others follow.

We live in a multi-polar world where good/bad or friend/enemy is not as clear as during the Cold War. Nations need to work together on unprecedented levels and that needs leadership. Since Europe is both unwilling and unable to provide that leadership, America must. Unfortunately, our leader doesn't want peace or stability. Only more war and fear. Fortunately, only 912 days left until we get a new one.

Mark Mardell, the BBC's Europe Editor, blogs about the same idea today.

Oh and if you are wondering about the prospects of a beefed-up UN force in Lebanon to enforce a ceasefire, you will want to read the Guardian's article, Mission impossible - Past experience indicates that any UN force in south Lebanon will struggle to keep the peace, writes Ian Black.

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