Thursday, August 21, 2008

Timothy Ash wrong about EU avoiding clash with Orthodox Civilization

Timothy Ash, as a representative EU European, isn’t terribly found of Samuel P. Huntington. In his book Free World, America, Europe, and the Surprising Future of the West, Ash, on page 193 wrote, “In 2025, the next most populous E.U. member state might be Ukraine. By bringing in Ukraine and Belarus, after Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, and Serbia, the European Union would have crossed another Huntingtonian fault like between ‘civilizations.’ For according to Huntington, the Orthodox Christian world is another separate civilization, like Islam. So one small thing Europe can do over the next twenty years is to prove Samuel Huntington wrong. By inducting Ukraine, the European Union would enhance the political stability of its own eastern borderlands and influence, for the better, the political formation of a genuinely postimperial Russia.

Here we are in 2008, only four years after Ash wrote his book, and how is Ash’s predication working out so far? The EU is already clashing a bit with the “Orthodox” Russia over one of Huntington “fault-line” nations, Georgia, wouldn’t you say? The Weekly Standard has an interesting article by Kenneth Weinstein on the EU’s present predicament: Weinstein writes, “After Russian’s attack on Georgia, Merkel’s immediate reaction, like Barack Obama’s, was to avoid assigning blame to the Russians. . . In contrast, the Balts, the Poles, and the Swedes have been Georgia’s most steadfast allies in the EU. After their visit of solidarity to Georgia this week, the Estonian, Lithuanian, and Polish presidents and the Latvian prime minister offered a joint statement that effectively criticized the EU-led peace initiative brokered by President Sarkozy for failing to address ‘the principal element – the respect of [the] territorial integrity of Georgia.’. . The true measure of European foreign policy unity should be judged on the basis of coherence under pressure. After Georgia, it has once again been found deeply lacking.”

In another article in the same issue of the Weekly Standard, “History’s Back,” ( ) Robert Kagan writes “One of these fault lines runs along the western and southwestern frontiers of Russia. In Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova, in the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, in Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, in the Caucasus and Central Asia, and even in the Balkans, a contest for influence is under way between a resurgent Russia, on one side, and the European Union and the United States on the other. Instead of an anticipated zone of peace, western Eurasia has once again become a zone of competition, in which military power – pooh-poohed by postmodern Europeans – once again plays a role”

The following might be considered a response to what now seems Ash’s naïve hope that the EU would disprove Huntington: Kagan writes, “Unfortunately, Europe is ill-equipped to respond to a problem that it never anticipated having to face. The European Union is deeply divided about Russia, with the nations on the frontline fearful and seeking reassurance, while others like France and Germany seek accommodation with Moscow. The fact is, Europe never expected to face this kind of challenge at the end of history. This great 21st century entity, the EU, now confronts 19th-century power, and Europe’s postmodern tools of foreign policy were not designed to address more traditional geopolitical challenges. There is a real question as to whether Europe is institutionally or temperamentally able to play the kind of geopolitical games in Russia’s near-abroad that Russia is willing to play.”

“. . . Fukuyama and others counsel accommodation to Russian ambitions, on the ground that there is now no choice. It is the post-American World.”

It would appear however, that “. . . the European Union’s newest members from Central and Eastern Europe fear a resurgent Russia and insist on closer strategic ties with Washington. That was true even before Russia invaded Georgia. Now their feeling of dependence on the United States will grow dramatically.”

Lawrence Helm

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