Harry’s Place and Cabalamat both got to this Robert Kagan piece in the Washington Post (registration or Bug Me Not required) before me, and there’s not too much to add to Phil’s rather interesting remarks on it. As a sidenote to his contention that the EU is the Borg – ‘you will be assimilated (and enjoy it) – resistance is irrelevant’ – I can remember an episode of one of the myriad Star Trek series where someone made the same argument about the Federation.
I have a feeling that the Ukrainian crisis may, when we look back at it from ten or twenty years down the line, turn out to be one of those crucial turning points for the EU. It’s not just in terms of the Europe-Russia-US geopolitics that have been discussed quite extensively over the last two weeks, but it’s also important in the EU’s image of itself. It’s reiterated the idea that the countries of the former Eastern Bloc want to join the EU, that it has what Kagan calls ‘the power of the attraction’ but it’s also shown, as Phil discusses, that there are ways to use the ‘soft power’ of the EU constructively. Javier Solana may talk softly, but his big stick is economic and cultural rather than military, even though these may take longer to have an effect and cause changes.
Of course, one test for the EU will be to see how far away from its borders this sort of power can be wielded (it’s important to remember that the EU will most likely have a border with Iran in the medium term) and whether this soft power can be applied globally or merely within the neighbourhood.