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'Europe needs an army'

27 May 2008 - Europe is paralysed by feelings of guilt and uses these feelings as an excuse not to fight injustice in the rest of the world, French philosopher Pascal Bruckner said last night in Amsterdam. Frits Bolkestein made an appearance as well.

Bruckner argued that Europe not only needs to show 'courage and dignity'; it also needs to have a common foreign policy and its own army. His opponent, former Foreign Development minister Jan Pronk, agreed on this.

Whereas America has a 'project for humanity', Europe is pessimistic about its capacity to change the world, Bruckner said regretfully. If only Europe had intervened at an earlier stage in former Yugoslavia, or had opposed Russia's intervention in Chechnya, many problems could have been prevented.

Surprisingly, neither he nor Pronk seemed to have any doubts as to the beneficial impact a more interventionist, militarised Europe would have on the rest of the world - even though history might suggest otherwise.

Among the public was Frits Bolkestein, former VVD party leader and EU Commissioner. He just sat and listened until the end of the evening. When discussion leader Mient Jan Faber was about to wrap things up, he feebly waved his hand, clearly timing his intervention for maximum effect.

The large member states would never submit to a common EU foreign policy, and without common policy there can also be no army, Bolkestein lectured. He also rejected Pronk's suggestion to admit countries such as Ukraine to the EU.

Pronk needled him by saying that even Russia should not be excluded from EU membership. If a country defines itself as European and is willing to accept the rules of the EU, who are we to deny them, he argued.

He further suggested that peace in the Middle East might become a realistic option if both Israel and the Palestinians would be offered a prospect of joining the EU - a suggestion that did not really go down well with the public. Nor with Bruckner: 'the boat is full'.

Image: Example for Europe? Photo Tech. Sgt. Cecilio M. Ricardo Jr. / soldiersmediacenter / Flickr


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