America as European Hegemon

America as European Hegemon

Mini Teaser: Despite broad acceptance of the view that the United States has been an "offshore balancer" with regard to Europe over the past several decades, the facts don't fit the theory--the facts of the past dozen years most particularly.

by Author(s): Christopher Layne

As the wisest of all American philosophers, Yogi Berra, has insightfully observed, making predictions is hard, especially about the future. And he might have added-pointing to the predictions of an impending Euro-American rupture that have been a staple of debates about U.S.-European relations at least since the 1956 Suez crisis-prognosticating accurately about the future of Transatlantic relations is extra hard. Through all the ups and downs in U.S.-European relations over the years, those many Chicken Littles who have gone out on a limb to forecast an impending drifting apart of Europe and the United States never have had their predictions validated by events.

Until now, perhaps?

The Iraq War has produced a very different kind of rift. The damage inflicted on Washington's ties to Europe by the Bush Administration's policy is likely to prove real, lasting and, at the end of the day, irreparable. In other words, if the fat lady isn't singing already, she clearly can be heard warming up her voice.

To understand why this crisis is different, we must understand its causes. The rupture between the United States and Europe is not, as some have asserted, mainly about an alleged Transatlantic rift in the realm of culture, values and ideology. It is not about the relative merits of unilateralism versus multilateralism. It is not even about the issues that framed the debate about Iraq during the run-up to war (Should the weapons inspections process have been allowed to play out? Was the United States wrong to go to war without a second resolution from the United Nations Security Council?). For sure, Iraq was a catalyst for Transatlantic dispute, but this crisis has been about American power-specifically about American hegemony.

Of Balance and Hegemony

When future historians write about how American hegemony ended, they may well point to January 22, 2003 as a watershed. On that day, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Franco-German Treaty negotiated by Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer as a bulwark against American hegemony, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder jointly declared that Paris and Berlin would work together to oppose the Bush Administration's evident intent to resolve the Iraqi question by force of arms. Later that day, in a Pentagon briefing, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld responded to the Franco-German declaration by contemptuously dismissing those partners as representing the "Old Europe", thereby triggering a Transatlantic earthquake, the geopolitical after-shocks of which will be felt for a long time. And well they should, for these contretemps reflect what is already a very old issue.

The problem of hegemony has been a major issue in U.S.-European relations since the United States emerged as a great power at the end of the 19th century. The United States fought two big wars in Europe out of fear that if a single power (in those cases, Germany) attained hegemony in Europe, it would be able to mobilize the continent's resources and threaten America in its own backyard, the Western Hemisphere. The conventional wisdom holds that America's post-World War II initiatives-the Marshall Plan, the North Atlantic Treaty-were driven by similar fears of possible Soviet hegemony in Europe. Indeed, many American strategic thinkers define America's traditional European strategy as a text-book example of "offshore balancing."

As an offshore balancer, the United States supposedly remains on the sidelines with respect to European security affairs unless a single great power threatens to dominate the continent. America's European grand strategy, therefore, is said to be counter-hegemonic: the United States intervenes in Europe only when the continental balance of power appears unable to thwart the rise of a would-be hegemon without U.S. assistance. The most notable proponent of this view of America's European grand strategy toward Europe is University of Chicago political scientist John J. Mearsheimer. He argues that the United States is not a global hegemon. Rather, because of what he describes as the "stopping power of water", the United States is a hegemon only in its own region (the Western hemisphere), and acts as an offshore balancer toward Europe. He predicts that the United States soon will end its "continental commitment" because there is no European hegemon looming on the geopolitical horizon. As an offshore balancer, Mearsheimer says, the United States will not remain in Europe merely to play the role of regional stabilizer or pacifier.

There is just one thing wrong with this view: it does not fit the facts.

If American strategy toward Europe is indeed one of counter-hegemonic offshore balancing, it should have been over, over there, for the United States when the Soviet Union collapsed. By a different but not far-fetched reckoning, it should have been over in the early 1960s, when the Europeans were capable of deterring a Soviet military advance westward without the United States. With no hegemonic threat to contain, American military power should have been retracted from Europe after 1991, and NATO should have contracted into non-existence rather than undergoing two rounds of expansion. Of course, it may be that America will ultimately be ejected from the continent by the Europeans, but there are no signs that the United States will voluntarily pack up and go home any time soon.

It is not a "time lag", or mere inertia, that has kept American military power on the European continent more than a decade after the Soviet Union ceased to exist. There is a better explanation for why U.S. troops are still in Europe and NATO is still in business. It is because the Soviet Union's containment was never the driving force behind America's post-World War II commitment to Europe. There is a well-known quip that NATO was created to "keep the Russians out, the Germans down, and the Americans in." It would be more accurate to say that the Atlantic Alliance's primary raison d'être, from Washington's standpoint, was to keep America in-and on top-so that Germans could be kept down, Europe could be kept quiet militarily, and the Europeans would lack any pressing incentive to unite politically. The attainment of America's postwar grand strategic objectives on the continent required that the United States establish its own hegemony over Western Europe, something it would probably have done even in the absence of the Cold War. In other words, NATO is still in business to advance long-standing American objectives that existed independently of the Cold War and hence survived the Soviet Union's collapse.

American Aims

We usually look to history to help us understand the present and predict the future. But the reverse can be true, as well: sometimes recent events serve to shed light on what happened in the past, and why it happened. Many may react skeptically to the claim that America's postwar European grand strategy was driven at least as much-probably more-by non-Cold War factors as by the Soviet threat. But Washington's post-Cold War behavior provides a good deal of support for this thesis.

For starters, when the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union began to unravel, the first Bush Administration did not feel in the least bit compelled to reconsider the relevance of, or need for, either the U.S. military commitment to Europe or NATO. As Philip Zelikow and Condoleezza Rice, both of whom served that administration as senior foreign policy officials, have observed:

"[The] administration believed strongly that, even if the immediate military threat from the Soviet Union diminished, the United States should maintain a significant military presence in Europe for the foreseeable future. . . . The American troop presence thus also served as the ante to ensure a central place for the United States as a player in European politics. The Bush administration placed a high value on retaining such influence, underscored by Bush's flat statement that the United States was and would remain 'a European power.' . . . The Bush administration was determined to maintain crucial features of the NATO system for European security even if the Cold War ended."

The Clinton Administration took a similar view. As one former State Department official avers, NATO to had be revitalized after the Cold War because American interests in Europe "transcended" the Soviet threat. And using phraseology reminiscent of Voltaire's comment about God, then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said, "Clearly if an institution such as NATO did not exist today, we would want to create one."
The fact that American policymakers did not miss a beat when the Cold War ended with respect to reaffirming NATO's continuing importance reveals a great deal about the real nature of the interests that shaped America's European grand strategy after World War II, and that continue to do so today. The truth is that, from its inception, America's postwar European grand strategy reflected a complex set of interlocking "Open Door" interests.* These interests are at once economic, strategic and broadly political in nature.

The first of these is that U.S. postwar officials believed that America had crucial economic interests in Europe. Even if there was no communist threat to Western Europe, State Department Policy Planning Staff Director George F. Kennan argued in 1947, the United States had a vital interest in facilitating Western Europe's economic recovery: "The United States people have a very real economic interest in Europe. This stems from Europe's role in the past as a market and as a major source of supply for a variety of products and services." These interests required that Europe's antiquated economic structure of small, national markets be fused into a large, integrated market that would facilitate efficiencies and economies of scale.** As the U.S. Ambassador to France, Jefferson Caffery, argued in 1947, economic integration would "eliminate the small watertight compartment into which Europe's pre-war and present economy is divided." Paul Hoffman, director of the Economic Cooperation Agency (which administered Marshall Plan aid to Europe), elaborated on the reasons why Washington favored Western Europe's economic integration: "Europe could not be self-supporting until it had made great progress towards unity and until there was a wide, free, competitive market to lower costs, increase efficiency, and raise the standard of living."

To prevent far Left parties (especially the communists) from coming to power on the Continent's western half after World War II, U.S. aims also required political and social stability there. Washington was not really so concerned that such governments would drift into Moscow's political orbit, but it was very concerned that they would embrace the kinds of nationalist, or autarkic, economic policies that were anathema to America's goal of an open international economy. As Averell Harriman, the U.S. Special Representative in Europe, put it, Washington was committed to multilateral trade and was "opposed to restrictive policies and especially to the creation of an autarkic Europe."

Second, American strategists perceived that U.S. economic interests would be jeopardized if postwar Europe relapsed into its bad habits of nationalism, great power rivalries and realpolitik. To ensure stability in Europe after World War II, the United States sought to create a militarily de-nationalized and economically integrated-but not politically unified-Europe. Washington would assume primary responsibility for European security, thereby precluding the re-emergence of the security dilemmas (especially that between France and Germany) that had sparked the two world wars. In turn, Western Europe's economic integration and interdependence-under the umbrella of America's military protectorate-would contribute to building a peaceful and stable Western Europe. In this respect, U.S. economic and security objectives meshed nicely.

Postwar U.S. policymakers viewed Europe's traditional balance of power security architecture as a "fire trap" and, as Undersecretary of State Robert Lovett said following World War II, Washington wanted to make certain that this fire trap was not rebuilt. Starting with those who were "present at the creation", successive generations of U.S. policymakers feared the continent's reversion to its (as Americans see it) dark past-a past defined by war, militarism, nationalism and an unstable multipolar balance of power. For American officials, Europe indeed has been a dark continent whose wars spilled over across the Atlantic, threatened American interests and invariably drew in the United States. Secretary Rumsfeld's disparaging remark about the "Old Europe" thus stands in a long and consistent line of American attitudes toward the Continent and its various historical crimes and misdemeanors.
After World War II, Rumsfeld's cabinet predecessors sought to maintain U.S. interests by breaking the Old Europe of its bad old geopolitical habits. As Secretary of State John Foster Dulles put it in 1953,
"Surely there is an urgent, positive duty on all of us to seek to end that danger which comes from within. It has been the cause of two world wars and it will be disastrous if it persists."

Even during the Cold War, American policymakers acknowledged that, quite apart from the Soviet threat, the United States needed to be present militarily in Western Europe to create a political environment that permitted "a secure and easy relationship among our friends in Western Europe." As Secretary of State Dean Rusk said in 1967, the U.S. military presence on the continent played a pivotal role in assuring stability within Western Europe: "Much progress has been made. But without the visible assurance of a sizeable American contingent, old frictions may revive, and Europe could become unstable once more." Former Secretary of State Acheson, too, observed in the mid-1960s that, as the vehicle for America's stabilizer role in Western Europe, "NATO is not merely a military structure to prepare a collective defense against military aggression, but also a political organization to preserve the peace of Europe."

The U.S. goal of embedding a militarily de-nationalized, but economically integrated Western Europe within the structure of an American-dominated "Atlantic Community" dovetailed neatly with another of Washington's key post-1945 grand strategic objectives: preventing the emergence of new poles of power in the international system-in the form either of a resurgent Germany or a united Europe-that could challenge America's geopolitical pre-eminence. Since the 1940s, Washington has had to perform a delicate balancing act with respect to Europe. To be sure, for economic reasons, the United States encouraged Western Europe's integration into a single common market, but the United States sought to prevent that from leading to its political unification.

To prevent the emergence of a politically unified Western Europe, successive U.S. administrations sought to "de-nationalize" the region by establishing a military protectorate that integrated Western Europe's military forces under, and subordinated them to, American command. The goal was to neuter Western Europe geopolitically and thereby circumscribe its ability to act independently of the United States in the high political realms of foreign and security policy. Embedding West European integration in the American-dominated Atlantic community would prevent the Europeans from veering off in the wrong direction. "An increased measure of Continental European integration", Acheson and Lovett told President Truman,

"can be secured only within the broader framework of the North Atlantic Community. This is entirely consistent with our own desire to see a power arrangement on the Continent which does not threaten us and with which we can work in close harmony."

Acheson stated American strategic concerns with crystal clarity when he spoke of the necessity of a "well-knit large grouping of Atlantic states within which a new EUR grouping can develop, thus ensuring unity of purpose within the entire group and precluding [the] possibility of [a] EUR Union becoming [a] third force or opposing force."

Europe's military absorption into the Atlantic Community went hand in hand with its economic integration. By persuading the West Europeans to "pool" their military and economic sovereignty, Washington aimed to strip them of the capacity to take unilateral national action. As Kennan observed, Western Europe should be unified on terms which "would automatically make it impossible or extremely difficult for any member, not only Germany, to embark upon a path of unilateral aggression." But it was the American diplomat Charles Bohlen who cut to the heart of the U.S. de-nationalization strategy when he said, "Our maximum objective should be the general one of making common European interests more important than individual national interests."

For the United States, therefore, institutions such as NATO, the aborted European Defense Community, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the Common Market were the instruments it employed to contain the West Europeans.* As the State Department said, the United States hoped that "cautious initial steps toward military, political, and economic cooperation will be followed by more radical departures from traditional concepts of sovereignty." The American aim was to create "institutional machinery to ensure that separate national interests are subordinated to the best interests of the community", and achieving this subordination was deemed essential if the United States was to accomplish its grand strategic purposes in Europe.

The Continental Response

Just as fear of a European hegemon led the United States to intervene in Europe's two great wars of the 20th century, the West Europeans after World War II understood that America had established its own hegemony over them. As realist international relations theory suggests, Western Europe tried to do something about it.

To be sure, West European balancing against the United States was constrained. On the one hand, although the West Europeans feared American power, they feared the Soviet Union even more during the Cold War. In a more positive sense, too, following World War II, Washington was able to use the carrot of economic assistance-notably, the Marshall Plan-to keep Western Europe aligned (albeit very tenuously at times) with the United States. Nevertheless, throughout the post-World War II era, West European inclinations to balance against American power were never far from the surface.

In the five years or so after the end of World War II, it was Britain that hoped to emerge as a "Third Force" in world politics to balance both the United States and the Soviet Union. As the British diplomat Gladwyn Jebb put it, London needed to prevent the geopolitical equilibrium from being undermined "by a 'bi-polar' system centering around what Mr. Toynbee calls the two 'semi-barbarian states on the cultural periphery'." The accelerating decline of Britain's relative power, of course, put paid to London's Third Force aspirations, but continental Europe's Third Force aspirations remained. In the late 1940s and 1950s, one of the hopes of the founding fathers of today's European Union was that the European Coal and Steel Community, and then the Common Market, would prove to be the embryo of a united Europe that could act as a geopolitical and economic counterweight to the United States. Commenting on the motives driving the West Europeans to integrate, the diplomatic historian Geir Lundestad observes:

"Although they wanted the two sides of the Atlantic to cooperate more closely, in a more general sense it was probably also the desire of most European policymakers to strengthen Western Europe vis-Ã -vis the United States. This could be done economically by supporting the Common Market and politically by working more closely together on the European side."

Even Jean Monnet, author of the Schuman Plan that led to the ECSC and the "father" of European integration, first toyed with the idea of an Anglo-French federation in the late 1940s because he saw this as the basis of a European bloc that could stand apart from both the United States and the Soviet Union.

The 1956 Suez crisis gave fresh impetus to the arguments that Western Europe needed to counterbalance the United States. Britain's initial reaction to its humiliation by the Eisenhower Administration was to consider reviving the Third Force concept: "We should pool our resources with our European allies so that Western Europe as a whole might become a third nuclear power comparable with the United States and the Soviet Union." Under Harold Macmillan, of course, Britain rejected becoming part of a West European Third Force, opting instead to curry favor-and maintain influence-with Washington through the "special relationship" ("playing Greece to America's Rome"). On the Continent, however, Suez focused French and West German attentions on the need for a West European counterweight to American power. As William I. Hitchcock recounts, Adenauer and French Premier Guy Mollet were meeting in Paris on November 6, 1956, at the height of the Suez crisis (and the simultaneous turmoil in Hungary). Shortly after Adenauer exclaimed that it was time for Europe to unite "against America", Mollet excused himself to take a phone call from the British Prime Minister, Anthony Eden, who informed Mollet that, under U.S. pressure, London had decided to call off the Anglo-French invasion of the Suez Canal Zone. When a crestfallen Mollet returned to the meeting room and conveyed the content of the telephone conversation to his guest, Adenauer consoled him by saying, "Now, it is time to create Europe."

By the early 1960s, French President Charles de Gaulle believed that Western Europe had recovered sufficiently from World War II's dislocations and was poised to re-emerge as an independent pole of power in the international system. De Gaulle, clearly one of the 20th century's towering figures, was well versed in the realities of international politics. Following Washington's successful facing-down of the Soviet Union in the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, he concluded then that the world had become "unipolar"-dominated by a hegemonic America. To balance U.S. hegemony, de Gaulle pushed for France to acquire independent nuclear capabilities, and he sought to build a West European pole of power based on a Franco-German axis. That is what the 1963 treaty-the one Chirac and Schröder were commemorating on January 22-was all about, a fact that Washington apprehended clearly. U.S. policymakers were deeply concerned that Paris would lure West Germany out of the "Atlantic" (that is, U.S.) orbit, because such a Euro-centric strategic axis, as a 1966 State Department cable explicitly said, "would fragment Europe and divide the Atlantic world." In plainer English, the foundations of America's European hegemony would be undermined.

Washington recognized the Gaullist challenge for what it was-a direct assault on U.S. preponderance in Western Europe-and reacted by re-asserting its own hegemonic prerogatives on the Continent. President Kennedy gave eloquent expression to the fear that Western Europe's emergence as an independent pole of power in the international system would be inimical to U.S. interests, and his doing so shows that U.S. concerns on this score were not limited to the immediate postwar period, as sketched out above. Kennedy voiced concern that U.S. leverage over Europe might be waning because the West Europeans, having staged a vigorous postwar recovery, were no longer dependent on the United States economically. Noting that "the European states are less subject to our influence", Kennedy expressed the fear that "if the French and other European powers acquire a nuclear capability they would be in a position to be entirely independent and we might be on the outside looking in." By pushing for a Multilateral Nuclear Force for Western Europe (in reality, one that kept Washington's finger firmly on the trigger), the United States sought-unsuccessfully-to derail France's nuclear ambitions.

With considerably more success, however, the United States did manage to take the teeth out of the Franco-German Treaty. In so doing, Washington played the hardest kind of hegemonic hardball. Threatening to rescind the security guarantee that protected West Germany from the Soviets, the U.S. government insisted that the Bundestag insert a preamble to the treaty reaffirming that Bonn's Atlantic connection to the United States and NATO took supremacy over its ties with Paris.* This intervention by the United States hastened Adenauer's retirement and helped ensure that he would be succeeded by the more pliable Atlanticist, Ludwig Erhard.

What's New?

Now, forty years later, the United States and Europe are still playing the same game. America still asserts its hegemony, and France and Germany still seek (so far without much success) to create a European counterweight. As has been the case in the past, too, Washington is employing a number of strategies to keep Europe apart.

First, the United States is still actively discouraging Europe from either collective, or national, efforts to acquire the full-spectrum of advanced military capabilities. Specifically, the United States has opposed the EU's Rapid Reaction Force (the nucleus of a future EU army), insisting that any European efforts must not duplicate NATO capabilities and must be part of an effort to strengthen the Alliance's "European pillar." The United States is also encouraging European NATO members to concentrate individually on carving-out "niche" capabilities that will complement U.S. power rather than potentially challenge it.

Second, Washington is engaged in a game of divide and rule in a bid to thwart the EU's political unification process. The United States is pushing hard for the enlargement of the EU-and especially the admission of Turkey-in the expectation that a bigger EU will prove unmanageable and hence unable to emerge as a politically unified actor in international politics. The United States also has encouraged NATO expansion in a similar vein, in the hope that the "New Europe" (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania)-which, with the exception of Romania, will join the EU in 2004-will side with Washington against France and Germany on most issues of significance. For the United States, a Europe that speaks with many voices is optimal, which is why the United States is trying to ensure that the EU's "state-building" process fails-thereby heading off the emergence of a united Europe that could become an independent pole of power in the international system.

Finally, the United States has continued to remind the rest of Europe, sometimes delicately, sometimes in a heavy-handed fashion, that they still need an American presence to "keep the Germans down." For example, at his speech in Prague during the November 2002 NATO summit, President George W. Bush-just before invoking the historically freighted memories of Verdun, Munich, Stalingrad and Nuremberg-alluded in a not-so-subtle fashion to the German threat from World War II to make the case for a U.S. role in Europe:

U-boats could not divide us. . . . The commitment of my nation to Europe is found in the carefully tended graves of young Americans who died for this continent's freedom. That commitment is shown by the thousands in uniforms still serving here, from the Balkans to Bavaria, still willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for this continent's future.

Washington's aim of keeping Europe apart paid apparent dividends when, at the end of January, the leaders of Britain, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic signed a letter urging Europe and the international community to unite behind Washington's Iraq policy. This letter was notable especially because it illustrated that the United States is having some success in using the "New Europe" to balance against the "Old" Franco-German core. Clearly, Washington hopes that states such as Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Romania will not only line up behind the United States within NATO, but will also represent Atlanticist interests over European ones within the EU itself.

In short, U.S. policy seeks to encourage an intra-European counterweight that will block French and German aspirations to create a united Europe counterweight to American hegemony. Indeed, in the wake of the Iraq War, Transatlantic relations are characterized by a kind of "double containment" in Europe: the hard core of Old Europe (centered around France and Germany, and possibly supported by Russia) seeks to brake America's aspirations for global hegemony, while the United States and its "New European" allies in central and eastern Europe seek to contain Franco-German power on the Continent. It is an old game, in a new form.

The Widening Atlantic

In the decade between the Soviet Union's collapse and 9/11, American hegemony (or as some U.S. policymakers called it during the Clinton Administration, America's "hegemony problem") was the central issue in American grand strategy debates. It still is. Although American policymakers have developed a number of (too) clever rationales to convince themselves that the United States will escape the fate that invariably befalls hegemons, the fallout of the Iraq crisis on the Transatlantic relationship illustrates that concern with America's hegemonic power-and the way it is exercised-is not confined to the Middle East and Persian Gulf.

Why do France, Germany and much of the rest of the world, including other major powers such as Russia and China, worry about American hegemony? The simple answer is that international politics remains fundamentally what it has always been: a competitive arena in which states struggle to survive. States are always worried about their security. Thus when one state becomes overwhelmingly powerful-that is, hegemonic-others fear for their safety.

Doubtless the Bush Administration's fervent hegemonists will scoff at the idea that the United States will become the object of counter-hegemonic balancing. They clearly believe that the United States can do as it pleases because it is so far ahead in terms of hard power that no other state (or coalition of states) can possibly hope to balance against it. They also know, and know that Europeans know, that the United States does not and will never literally threaten Europe with its military power. This confidence is misplaced, however, because it overlooks the effects of what can be called "the hegemon's temptation."

A hegemonic power like the United States today has overwhelming hard power-especially military power-and indeed there is no state or coalition with commensurate power capable of restraining the United States from exercising that power. For hegemons, the formula of overwhelming power and lack of opposition creates powerful incentives to expand the scope of its geopolitical interests. But over time, the cumulative effects of expansion for the United States-wars and subsequent occupations in the Balkans, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and the War on Terrorism; possible future wars against North Korea, Iran, Syria, or China over Taiwan-will have an enervating impact on U.S. power.

At the end of the day, hegemonic decline results from the interplay of over-extension abroad and domestic economic weakness.* Over time, the costs of America's hegemonic vocation will interact with its economic vulnerabilities-endless budget deficits fueled in part by burgeoning military spending, and the persistent balance of payments deficit-to erode America's relative power advantage over the rest of the world. As the relative power gap between the United States and potential new great powers begins to shrink, the costs and risks of challenging the United States will decrease, and the pay-off for doing so will increase. As the British found out toward the end of the 19th century, a seemingly unassailable international power position can melt away with unexpected rapidity.

There are already today other potential poles of power in the international system waiting in the wings that could quickly emerge as counterweights to the United States. And with the Iraq crisis revealing the stark nature of American hegemony, these new power centers have increasingly greater incentive to do so. Here, by facilitating "soft" balancing against the United States, the Iraq crisis may have paved the way for "hard" balancing as well. Since the end of World War II, policymakers and analysts on both sides of the Atlantic have realized that Europe is a potential pole of power in the international system. Will France and Germany provide the motor to unite Europe in opposition to the United States? Time, of course, will tell.

But for sure, this is not 1963. The Cold War is over, and France and Germany are freer to challenge American hegemony. The EU is in the midst of an important constitutional convention that is laying the foundation for a politically unified Europe. And even as the Iraq War proceeded, there were straws in the wind pointing in the direction of hard balancing against the United States. Most notable are indications that France, Germany, Belgium and Luxemburg may act together to create Europe's own version of a coalition of the willing--by forming a "hard core" of enhanced defense cooperation among themselves.

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