Rethinking Europe's Future

January 31, 2002

Rethinking Europe


JOANNE MYERS: We are pleased to have with us David Calleo to discuss his recently published book, Rethinking Europe's Future, which will provide us with the information we need to reevaluate Europe's prospects as it enters the 21st century.

In Europe today, globalization and the movement towards integration have taken on a powerful momentum. Recent initiatives—such as the introduction of the Euro, building of a single market, and the prospects of EU enlargement—have presented the continent with new challenges and concerns.

Although David Calleo has spent much time evaluating European history, taking into account even such contingent factors as Russia's weakness and Europe's Muslim neighbors to the west, he does not pretend to predict the future with any assurance. However, he believes that if we begin by studying trends that emerge from Europe's past, these lessons can offer a rich insight into this present moment in history.

Throughout his career, our speaker has been recognized for his expertise in Western European and Atlantic relations, American foreign and economic policy, diplomatic history, and military power and strategy. As one of the most highly respected academics in his field, his knowledge and experience will help us to understand what is happening in Europe today and what this is likely to mean for the future of U.S.-European relations.

Professor Calleo is the author of numerous important works of foreign policy and economic affairs. His writings have always made an important and useful contribution to understanding the possibilities for future American policy. His works include The Bankrupting of America: How the Federal Deficit Is Impoverishing the Nation; Beyond American Hegemony: The Future of the Western Alliance; and The German Problem Reconsidered: Germany in the World Order 1870 to the Present.

He has taught at Brown, Yale, and Columbia universities, as well as at such European institutions as the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris and the Institut de Hautes Etudes Internationales in Geneva; he was a former Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford; and has served as a consultant to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. Currently Mr. Calleo is the Dean Acheson Professor and Director of European Studies at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at The Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C.

Please join me in giving a very warm welcome to our distinguished guest, Professor David Calleo.


DAVID CALLEO: Thank you very much. I am pleased to be in New York. Like so many people around the world, I never set foot in this city without feeling a fresh enthusiasm for what life has to offer, this city which is very European and is certainly quintessentially American. For me, it represents what is best about our country and what is most hopeful in what will, I expect, a very difficult new century for us all.

Rethinking Europe's Future develops a series of topics about current developments in Europe, issues that are critical for what happens in this new century, not only to Europe but also to the world, and certainly to us in America. Europe was the world's principal problem for much of the 20th century—and, indeed, through most centuries of the modern era. It is a region overflowing with vitality and creativity, but also a region of murderous instability, regularly breeding colossal wars, despite all the refinement of its art, its philosophy, its manners, capable of astounding barbarity. And never were these traits more flagrantly displayed than in the first half of the 20th century, when the two great wars, both bred in Europe, drew the rest of the world into its terrible violence.

In this new century, we have reason to hope for something better, that Europe will be a major part of the solution to the world's problems, rather than itself being a principal problem.

The first part of my book, "Europe's Living Past"—what fans of Braudel might call "la longue durée"—deals with structural elements in Europe's modern history, those parts of the past that still weigh heavily on the present and into the future. The whole section is informed by the view that our ideas about the future are, in very large part, reflections of the lessons of the past; and to seriously rethink the future, we must first rethink the past.

First I discuss the geopolitical lessons derived by Europeans from their two world wars. The great, overriding lesson was that the old European state system had become fatally self-destructive and murderously unstable to a degree that threatened to ruin all of Europe's great powers, to take away its freedom, to barbarize its civilization.

In due course, the Europeans came up with two solutions: One was to bring an external end to hegemony to maintain order in Europe; and the other was to form an internal confederation among the European states themselves to stabilize their relations through orderly procedures for bargaining. The first, the hegemonic solution, was favored principally by the British—and we were the hegemon brought in. The second, the confederal solution, is essentially a creation of the French and the Germans.

Both of these solutions evolved institutionally together over the 20th century, resulting in NATO, on the one hand, and the European Union, on the other. They seem contradictory in theory, as quite radically different answers to the problem of Europe's instability; but, thanks to the special conditions of the Cold War, they were very complementary in fact.

My second chapter deals with the character of Europe's persistent state system, and its management theories—the hegemonic theory, balance of power theory, liberal theories—theories that are still very much with us as we try to organize the future. The Europeans invented the two great political economic formulas of the modern world: the nation state and capitalism. Though both these formulas share a common European heritage, they have had a very rocky history together.

Next I turn to the evolution of Europe's states into nation states. With nationalism of the nation state also came the ideal of the communitarian state, the state defined as a fellowship of citizens, rather than a gang of rulers, an ideal that points to the modern welfare state, another European invention. It is an ideal also that suggests the return to mercantilism; a view of economics where it is the duty of the state to promote the economy to the larger ends of the national community to promote education, research, technology, modernization, planning, in order to make a better society. There is a clash, then, between liberalism, on the one hand, which wants to get rid of the state, and this nationalist, mercantilist view of the state as a moral partnership.

In detailing the relationship of the nation state to capitalism, I discuss writers who embody the major contending approaches to the relationship between the economy and the state, or economics and politics—Adam Smith and Friedrich-Liszt, Marx and Lenin, and Keynes and Hayek.

This group of chapters on the living past began by noting three paradoxes that run through modern European history: sovereign nation states are closely interdependent; capitalism grows self-destructive as it develops; nation states and capitalism are both symbiotic and fundamentally antagonistic.

The first half of the 20th century shows what happens when these paradoxes cannot be managed successfully. Europe did much better in the century's second half, with a felicitous amalgamation of historical lessons and prescriptions whose simultaneous application was facilitated by the Cold War. These lessons and prescriptions applied in a postwar era fall into three sets.

1) The first set deals with Europe's constituent unit, the nation state. The nation state formula has prevailed almost everywhere in Europe and spread throughout the world because it has proved the most successful framework for holding together a pluralistic modern society. According to this nationalist formula, a shared cultural and historical consciousness is needed to sustain a working political consensus. A strong, overarching sense of national identity permits a wide degree of individual liberty and social diversity without threatening political and social peace. Democratic states do not flourish when extended beyond such a nationalist consensus.

2) The second set deals with Europe's nation state system. Since Europe's state system is inherently and dangerously unstable, some kind of regional superstructure is needed to sustain peace. Since no one European state can maintain a durable hegemony over the others, the superstructure must be provided by a confederacy, perhaps led by a special partnership among Europe's great powers. Otherwise, order must be imported from an external hegemony—in effect, from the United States. And there is a further global corollary to American hegemony in Europe, which implies American hegemony in the world. A confederal Europe with indigenous leadership implies a more balanced global system. This is an observation of some considerable significance for the future.

3) The third set deals with the nation state and capitalism. There are two sharply antithetical prescriptive lessons: Marxist, on the one hand; and neo-mercantilist, on the other. According to the Marxist perspective, capitalism and nation states are fundamentally antithetical. Capitalism is individualistic and global by nature. Its economic efficiency is hindered by all forms of collectivism—communitarian, nationalist, as well as Marxist Communism. If allowed free rein, global capitalism will eventually render the European nation state obsolete. As capitalism undermines the state, it will grow progressively unstable and self-destructive.

Then, there is the neo-mercantilist perspective: the nation state and capitalism are symbiotic. National solidarity requires the growth, prosperity, and opportunities that only capitalism has been able to provide. Capitalism needs the legal, regulatory, macroeconomic, and political frameworks that only a strong, well-ordered state can provide. Capitalism and the nation state each have excesses that the other is needed to correct. Capitalism's market freedom is a necessary bulwark against the characteristic abuses of state power. Capitalism's intrinsic and ultimately self-destructive instability requires a neo-mercantilist economic role for state that stabilizes and regulates growth to provide a tolerable degree of economic security and opportunity for all citizens.

The Cold War saw these lessons from history and the prescriptions that flow from them embodied in both the East and the West of Europe, in one fashion or another—and, indeed, around the world.

The next part of the book deals with the Cold War itself, and asks the question: What was the Cold War system in Europe, and what are the legacies that emerge from the Cold War for Europe?

Postwar Europe is best described as having lived in three systems—bipolar Europe, the Europe of NATO and the Warsaw Pact; confederal Europe, the Western Europe of the European Community, now the European Union; and global Europe, Western Europe in the global economic system, a principal partner and rival to the United States and Japan. Each of these systems or patterns of relationships had its own worldview, institutions, and pecking order. I provide a conceptual history of the Cold War, a way to understand the dynamics of the forces, the ideals, the institutions that emerged from the Cold War into the present. There are several broad observations useful for understanding what has happened after the end of the Cold War.

1) The first is the hybrid character of the confederacy that Europe built, the European Community, as it evolved through the Cold War and emerged out of it. In my 1964 Europe's Future: The Grand Alternatives, I spelled out four possible models for what was then the nascent community: Atlantic Europe, federal Europe, a Gaullist Europe of states, and nobody's Europe. I realized, even before I had finished writing this book, that these models were not mutually exclusive, that the real European Union was, in fact, a combination of all four.

  • Atlantic Europe—the American presence—was needed not only to protect against the Soviets, but as an ultimate guarantor against the revival of totalitarian powers in Europe itself, an ultimate stabilizer for the system. The heavy presence of Americans also provided Europeans with a friendly but formidable rival, necessary to encourage Europe's own economic cooperation.

  • Federal Europe was embodied in the highly efficient and ambitious technocracy of the European Commission, which has gone on from strength to strength in the decades since the founding of the Community.

  • The Gaullist Europe of states was and is embodied in the European Council—the Council of Ministers, the Council of the Heads of State. It is, in effect, the legislative body of the confederacy and, in some respects, the executive as well. A group of highly interdependent nation states, realizing that national policies cannot succeed without the cooperation of their neighbors, decide not to abandon their sovereignty but to pool it, in order to increase its practical effectiveness.

    At the heart of this Gaullist construction has always been the Franco-German entente, an ambiguous partnership, determined to make a success of the European confederacy, and one which has always come through in any of the great crises of the Community.

  • The EC/EU embodied also an older model from Europe, nobody's Europe, by which I meant the old anarchical balance of power system. In the EC and the EU, a state has the right to veto and to withdraw. This is an ultimate check against the abuse of power within the confederacy. In a sense, it is a constitutional necessity for a voluntary union of free nation states.

This hybrid constitution is remarkable. Europe, which has given the world the nation state and capitalism, now has generated a new political form, a grouping of states. It is very civilized, flexible, and resilient, but it also has obvious vulnerabilities that weigh upon its capacities, now that it suddenly faces a very difficult situation.

2) My second general observation about this Cold War period and what has come out of it is to note the rather remarkable complementarity of the three Cold War systems I have just outlined. Each of them is in theory contradictory with the others, but in practice they were mutually supportive. In particular, the bipolar system proved to be highly supportive of the confederal European system.

In practice, it was much easier to form a union of Western powers based on a Franco-German entente when there was at the same time a bipolar, strategic system that kept the old Germany divided and occupied and kept Western states firmly out of Eastern Europe, which had always been an area of great contention among the Western great powers, and also which removed the military problems entirely from the realm of this confederacy so it could really focus on competing with the Americans.

But while this unexpected complementarity of hegemonic and confederal Europe made life easier for Europe during the Cold War, it also meant that when the Soviet Union and its empire disintegrated, the European Community faced an abrupt and disruptive challenge: What to do, suddenly, with a now-suddenly-big and united Germany; what to do with an Eastern Europe which is suddenly once more part of Europe; what to do with Russia, which was once a conveniently implacable enemy that stabilized things, but now is, potentially at least, a close partner for Europe—indeed, even a possible Member of the European Union; and finally, what to do about the United States, a big protector, now that the enemy seems to have vanished.

At the end of the Cold War, Europe faced the problems for which its confederacy had been designed—namely, the German problem—but which the Cold War had made inoperative for several decades. All of a sudden, these problems reappeared.

This brings us to the book's third part, the new Europe. European states reacted with a great deal of vigor and creativity to this situation, and their reaction is embodied in the Maastricht Treaty of the early-1990s. It is the product of three major statesmen, Delors, Kohl, and Mitterand.

It is a highly ambitious response to the challenge of the Europe which is no longer structured by the Cold War. It turned the European Community into the European Union, and the rest of Maastricht is an agenda of grand projects.

Today, these projects are illusionary not only for Europe but for the world. They reflect the determination of European elites to be masters in this new European house which is created by the Soviet demise, and, if they succeed, it will represent a great and benign transformation of Europe's blood-stained history.

Obviously, the difficulties are formidable. The last six chapters in the book deal with this unfinished business of Maastricht—the monetary union; enlargement and constitutional reform; common security and defense; organizing pan-Europe, by which I mean the new relations with Russia and the United States; and finally, speculation on the kind of a great power Europe might be in the world likely to unfold over the next few decades.

As I said in the introduction, the world moves on, decisions are made, action has to be taken, and what happens now will determine things for a very long time to come. This is one of those moments when things are fixed into the future for a long time and, incumbent on anyone who is in this field to try to encourage a certain rejuvenation of the public imagination. This is a vital collective task, and this book is one attempt to contribute. And, in a way, the title reflects the approach, which is to rethink Europe's future, rather than to try to predict it.

We Americans are not paying very much attention to the great historical drama in Europe. If we understood what was going on, we might well oppose it, and this would put us on a collision course, with our old allies, which would be a great historical tragedy for both sides of the Atlantic.

On the other hand, ignorance is not always bliss. In our triumphalism of the past decade, we have perhaps grown too fond of the vision of a global system that is also unipolar. This is a view that is easier to sustain if you only pay very selective attention to the rest of the world.

It is this vision of ourselves as the only superpower. This is not only perhaps a bit vainglorious, but maybe also dysfunctional, because it implies that we have not only the physical resources but the wisdom, the persuasiveness, to manage the world's problems, or at least to survive them on our own. Among other things, it is a view of things that may not leave us with many friends. We have become the target of everyone's hatred who is unhappy with the status quo.

Maastricht implies a future where the world is plural, rather than unipolar. Maybe it is a more realistic view of what the world will become. You don't have to take Europe very seriously, but if you throw in China, which is growing at a ferocious rate, it implies a world that is not unipolar. India is somewhere behind, but rather formidable in its own way.

Russia, from a long-term point of view, is probably in much better shape than it has been since the turn of the last century. It has got rid of this dreadful system and it has a chance to reinvent itself as a nation, as a great power in the world. And it certainly has regained a degree of diplomatic flexibility and potential which it has not had for a very long time. It froze itself in this losing position in the Cold War until it collapsed.

The world is growing more plural. In the second volume of his wartime memoirs, de Gaulle writes about Roosevelt:

"If the great nation he directed had long been inclined to mistrust a Europe ceaselessly lacerated by wars and revolutions, a kind of messianic impulse now swelled the American spirit and oriented it toward vast undertakings. The United States, delighting in her resources, feeling that she no longer had in herself sufficient scope for her energies, wishing to help those who were in misery or bondage the world over, yielded in her turn to that taste for interventions in which the instinct for domination cloaked itself. It was precisely this tendency that President Roosevelt espoused."

He goes on: "I listened to Roosevelt describe his plans to me. As was only human, his will to power cloaked itself in idealism. The President, moreover, did not explain matters as a professor setting down principles, nor as a politician who flatters passions and interest. It was by light touches that he sketched in his notions, and so skillfully that it was difficult to contradict this artist, this seducer, in any categorical way.

"I assured him nevertheless that in my opinion his plan risked endangering the Western world. By considering Western Europe as a secondary matter, was he not going to weaken the very cause he meant to serve, that of civilization?"

And de Gaulle concluded: "`It is the West,' I told President Roosevelt, `that must be restored. If it regains its balance, the rest of the world, whether it wishes to or not, will take it for an example. If it declines, barbarism will eventually sweep everything away.' Now Western Europe, despite its dissention and its distress, is essential to the West. Nothing can replace the value, the power, the shining example of these ancient peoples."

In this confrontation of titans, so to speak, de Gaulle was right. Roosevelt's parting advice also does him great credit: "We shall do what we can, but it is true that to serve France no one can replace the French people."

Once more Europe is at a great historical watershed. It is an existential moment that will shape its own future and have much to do with what kind of world we live in the future. It is a fascinating moment to study and write about-I hope also to read about. But although this forms a very rich study, it does not lend itself to any great certainty.

There is one thing I do feel certain about. If Europe does fail in this great political adventure, it may be a more convenient world for American power, but it will also be a lonely world for American democracy.

Thank you very much.

Questions and Answers

QUESTION: Look at the European Union. What do you think are the EU's chances for real success? Could you also speculate on the future of Central and Eastern Europe in the post-Communist world?

DAVID CALLEO: I find it difficult to see how the present structure of the European Union can accommodate a membership of thirty, which is as diverse as all these new Member States will be. There is the federal solution and plenty of formulas for that.

There is another great contrast, which I didn't mentioned but which runs all through this, which is between Madison and Rousseau—ideas about what it takes to have a functioning political community that is also democratic and based on consensus.

On the one hand, there is the geopolitical necessity to take in Eastern Europe, which is part of the determination to be master of this Europe for the Europeans. On the other hand, it is very difficult to see how you can fit them in.

It is inevitable that Europe will fail because it will not be able to act. There are many political systems that cannot act. We have one sometimes as well. But it will be so incapable of acting that it will not be able to deal with the problems that confront it.

The leading powers, particularly France and Germany, will simply have to exert a much tougher kind of leadership. And then this raises the question: are they capable of it? The first problem is, do they agree on enough things to do this?

I don't know what the answer to that is. We've had several moments when people think things are falling apart, and they do not fall apart. This French-German tie, which seems so improbable, nevertheless has survived a great many crises, internal and external.

The federal solution is particularly workable, although they may have some different voting arrangements.

Another two quick thoughts:

One is the problem of Britain. If you want to be optimistic, you can say, "The British are slowly—or not so slowing—turning into Europe. This has been going on all my life as well. It is certainly true that Blair has taken the British, in the military sphere anyway, much farther, although he keeps turning around and declaring himself our most faithful ally, and there is a huge ambiguity in all of that. But surely, Britain has moved more energetically into European affairs.

There is also the question of Italy. All of a sudden, perfectly respectable people in Italy are starting to talk about the weakness of the Euro—and it is true Italy has a reputation for being the great faithful European, which is considerably exaggerated. The Italians tend not to apply half of the aquis of the Community when it suits them not to. And also, they extract a great deal from the Community.

On the other hand, if there is a growing disaffection among elites in Italy, it may suggest something else is going on, which is this opening of Europe. The weaker capitalist countries are beginning to feel it. Oddly enough, this is also true of Germany, which has all these problems because of the East.

And also, there is a certain threat to these national systems of control. Italy is a country where everything is very closely held at the top of the world, and Germany in many ways is the same. The more the Community forces these countries to open, and the more they, at the same time, don't feel very competitive, for one reason or another, the more this creates great tensions. Europe as constructed is terribly vulnerable to those kinds of tensions. It does depend in the end on the major states deciding that this is in their interest and that they have to compromise in order to hold this thing together because they will lose much more than they can possibly gain or lose on any particular issue.

QUESTION: Since 9/11, we have seen the inordinate American military power, and at the same time, a very weak European military power. But if you don't spend the money, you are not going to get it, in which case, inevitably, America will indeed be a kind of imperial power and Europe would likely be one of many others. What is your reaction?

DAVID CALLEO: In some respects our strength distorts everything else. Other people have nice welfare states which they don't want to give up, so they don't want to spend that much money. On the other hand, we have a military which does many different things and not very cheaply. So the differences may be a bit exaggerated.

It is amusing, this attitude "the Europeans can't do anything, poor things." The Germans sent paratroopers into Crete in the 1940s quite efficiently. The idea that they have no lift now, they can't go anyway—these are the people who make Airbuses which are driving Boeing out of business.

The problem with Germany is that the Germans at the end of the war rearmed, but without any national character to their military, without any general staff. But if it is a confederal Europe and there is a European military force, it will not be a federal force, it will be a coalition of the major European powers. If the biggest power is unable to participate because it doesn't have the right kind of military, then there is obviously a considerable drag.

The French-British connection, an ancient historical pair, has almost always involved the French in disaster, a thought which, no doubt, is never too far from their minds. The problem awaits the transformation of the Germans. It does the Germans credit that they have no huge eagerness to do this, but they are doing it.

There is also the phenomenon of the money involved from another perspective—industrial research and growth. Europe does have a colossal, successful defense industry, and they have been fairly adept in the last few years in putting it together, and very clever in divvying up things so that everybody gets a piece of it. That is why Airbus, for example, is so successful. So that is as factor not to be overlooked in all of this.

QUESTION: When one talks about success or failure, it is a simple, yes-or-no, black-and-white paradigm. The question is: Is that really adequate for what might be happening today in Europe?

I was surprised at the easy adoption of the Euro. There is no doubt that Europe is becoming far more integrated economically with a bottom-up thrust beginning to take off.

Is it possible that the Europe that will emerge is not the one that we have thought about in our academic life, of Europe looking like a state system, but something that looks quite different in which there are levels, integrated to varying degrees?

DAVID CALLEO: That is absolutely right. The states will not disappear in Europe. This is not the United States in 1810, or 1790.

It will be a very interesting new political structure. You can argue that it is a better way to run a continental system, because it is hard to run a continental system, as we occasionally notice, if it is too centralized. And maybe this business of states which really mean something and which are quite effective—as economic managers, for example, or welfare management—it is a better system. In any event, it is a different system.

Europe will not be a great imperial power in a military sense. That is going to be our specialty. And Europeans do not particularly want to do this. It does not mean they will lack military power—they will have whatever military power they think they need, which could be a great deal if the world suddenly becomes very hostile.

QUESTION: Would you agree that the Western European defense industry still seems to be substantially dependent on the United States? And a second question: is this alleged economic unity, with the Euro acceptance, really going to come into coordination with the basic nationalistic cultural hegemony that has existed in these nations for hundreds of years?

DAVID CALLEO: It's complicated, isn't it? One thing you can say is, "So far, so good." They were supposed to have technical problems, but have not.

People also argue that the European Central Bank is orphaned, that there is no real state behind it. You could argue that almost all central banks are orphans. The Federal Reserve, through much of its history in our own time, has been at odds with the rest of the government. We think of poor old Paul Volker in the midst of Reagan's fiscal policy trying to maintain monetary stability; or Bill Martin, back in the 1960s, leaning against the wind—the wind was Lyndon Johnson, the war and social programs. So this business is not quite so singular.

There are huge issues. Some economists really believe that there is only one correct monetary policy, and that is to maintain monetary stability. The gold standard didn't work so badly, but it did not require somebody to maintain it.

Again, the French-German relationship is critical. The reason there is a Euro is because the French decided they wanted to borrow the Bundesbond. It is too difficult politically in France to maintain a tight monetary policy, or a stable monetary policy. The French become more Germans than the Germans now—for good reason, because the French economy is probably in better shape. Germany was an almost perfect economy before reunification, and now it has problems. The Germans are more French now and the French are more German, but they do manage to reach a certain consensus.

There are problems in every country. Let's think ahead to what our storms will be five years from now, for example, if things progress in the same way. We have had an enormous flood of liquidity to get out of this recession. Maybe we have figured out a way to keep inflation from happening, at least in terms of prices of goods or wages. If so, it will be a rather novel development. We certainly have not figured out how to keep it out of the stock market.

QUESTION: Beyond the economic factors, do you think these countries with enormously strong cultural and national identity will consent in those areas to give up their sovereignty?

DAVID CALLEO: Countries already have. Sovereignty means something different, and maybe it always has. If you live in a really interdependent system, that sovereignty doesn't mean anything. And if sovereignty means "I get what I want," you can only get what you want if you persuade other people to go along with you. Therefore, a system which acknowledges that and which creates the structures of continual negotiation actually enhances sovereignty.

The Europeans have finally figured this out. Everybody has a day when they wave the flag. Soccer has replaced war in Europe, and maybe that is quite healthy.

QUESTION: You haven't really talked about NATO, although you talked indirectly about military issues. The accession of Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Poland has actually brought a degree of stability in Central Europe for Russia. Russia now feels actually it has an easier time dealing with these countries than it did before, possibly because these countries feel more comfortable in relation to Russia now that they are part of this group.

If NATO does bring a kind of stability to these various European countries, doesn't that reinforce the stability of the European Community and further the integration process?

DAVID CALLEO: What is bad about NATO enlargement is its deliberately open-ended character, which makes it hard for a country like Russia not to regard it as a threat. Imagine our reaction if we had some equivalent deployment of foreign forces to the Balkan countries. We keep talking about the Ukraine, and even about Belarus, although it's not very popular. And we have bases in Central Asia—like treaty ports in the 19th century.

NATO can take on that kind of role, but insofar as it really is an effective instrument of military power, and especially military power controlled by the United States, then it is harder: either it is a nice club and anybody who belongs to it feels safe and is suddenly reasonable; but that doesn't square with the notion of this is the world's mightiest military force and the Americans run it. You can't really have it both ways.

My original feelings were that it is very important to keep NATO going, because it is important to have a balance against Russia. But since Russia is not a great threat at the moment, the good future is to bring Russia into Europe in one way or another. But that does not square with this hyperactive institutional ambition to extend everywhere and find new mission. As long as the Russians behave moderately well, which they, no doubt, will do progressively over time, by what right do you keep them out of NATO? Maybe that is the perfectly sensible outcome, except that you have lost any alliance against them in case they ever turn into something else.

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