Natalie Nougayrède’s piece in today’s Guardian advances again the idea of crisis-as-catharsis: that the war in Syria-Iraq and flooding immigration present an opportunity for Europe to fashion a common foreign policy from the ad hoc musings that have without exception ended up in the Brussels waste-paper basket; that years of complacency can somehow give way to concerted action under the hammer of events; that Europe must deploy its combined geo-political weight in order to forestall catastrophe abroad as well as deal with its effects at home. Alas, there are many reasons why this is impossible. Europe’s status as a nullity in foreign-policy stems from its structural deformity, not the incompetence of its political class—although, as always, there is plenty of that. Germany’s economic weight guarantees that any putative European foreign policy would be German foreign policy rebadged. A credible foreign policy must be underwritten by military force under unified political command: there is no prospect that this will materialize. Germany’s culture of guilt ensures that any military action would be cautious (good) to the point of paralysis (bad). Any European-branded intervention in the Middle East cauldron would come up against American and Russian opposition, and would in any case require prodigious resources to have any chance of assisting to stabilize the region.
There is no conceivable negotiating mechanism by which a sustainable foreign policy could arise, fully formed, from the Brussels ‘Epi-State’. Rather it is alone the domestic implications for Europe of the West’s policy débâcles since 9/11, that are at least in theory amenable to some common European response. But here again, the prospects are poor—and the future terrifying. What has so far passed for domestic policy-prototyping on the immigration crisis, has sounded like mere rattling of the humanitarian calculators. With the UNHCR breathing down European leaders’ necks, however, there is no other official conclusion to be drawn: Europe must sacrifice its culture in order to keep waving from the moral high ground. For example, the attitude of the Parti socialiste seems to be: Christianity has had a good run in Europe, now it’s the turn of Islam. Or again, witness Federica Mogherini’s thought-bubble to the effect that the European peoples must rewire their psychology to accept creeping Islamization at home. This perhaps has more to do with the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy’s ideological inheritance, than with any rational analysis on her part.