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When I was a student I spent a summer working in Wildwood NJ and Virginia Beach. I was often asked where I came from and when I said Ireland I would get a blank stare followed by Iowa? Idaho? Finally, Ireland in Europe registered.

But I'm not sure if I care much about whether the EU is taken seriously in Washington. They tend to mirror Stalin's response when told that the Pope might not approve some proposed course of action. "The Pope? How many divisions has he?" was his no doubt apocryphal reply.

But I'm quite happy for the EU to be under-estimated provided it delivers the goods when it matters. You could call it the cute Kerryman strategy - pretend to be a complete gobdaw while you are buying and selling your opponent behind his back.

I would not like the EU to acquire the accoutrements of superpower status: Large army, militarised police and political culture, authoritarian attitudes and imperialist mind-sets.  If that is the price of being taken seriously by Putin, Erdogan or Washington, then it's not worth it.

What the EU DOES need to start doing, however, is to deliver more tangible benefits for its citizens. Maintaining the peace in Europe is never to be taken for granted, but it is not enough to develop a European identity, demos or civic space or to justify continued membership amongst more nationalistically minded citizens.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Apr 12th, 2021 at 06:40:58 PM EST
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