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the prospect of a strongly armed Germany ready to pursue its interest along the other powers

If we first set aside the prospect of a strongly armed <any nation>, which is scary... Then the prospect of a strongly-armed Germany would only be (specifically) worrisome if that state of affairs spoke to some national need, a sense of pride, identification with military force, etc. But we have no reason to believe  in stereotypical militaristic Germans, or in inherited militaristic traits. German militarism was the product of Prussian tradition and the rise of nationalism, to put it broadly. Only those who live in Germany can tell us if there is any risk of a revival. From the outside, it doesn't look like it.

However, we have every reason to want to hold on to what has been achieved by the EU, in terms of linking European economies together to avoid any future possibility of friction and war. When we have (mostly British) commentators airily telling us the EU is a meaningless shell we could throw aside as useless tomorrow, we need to remember the essential point of unity through economic alliance that was at the origin of the EU. If we hold on to that, then a German military force would be integrated in one way or another into a more or less tightly-organised EU force. The opportunities for high-risk behaviour would be lessened.

It often seems to me that the paroxysms of the first half of the twentieth century put an end to the sense of the sacred in our view of our nations in Europe, and that this is now an unchanging acquis. But nothing is unchanging. nanne speaks above of new generations in Germany who may not share the preoccupations of their elders. I was surprised some years ago by a young woman (in fact Belgian, but she had spent all her school years in Oldenburg) telling me with vehemence that German kids were sick and tired of having "all that old stuff about the Nazis and the Jews" stuffed down their throats. The kids she was talking about, her school friends, would now be rising thirty. Of course, (1) this is just an anecdote, (2) schoolkids may well resist pious lessons they feel are forced on them, and (3) there is no necessarily nationalistic or militaristic element there. But rather than run risks, I think we'd be wiser to pursue the "ever-closer union".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 04:21:18 PM EST

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