European foreign and defence policy is what Frau Merkel feels.
It is no sexist banter to observe that Angela Merkel’s testosterone level dived at the first hint of serious trouble. Margaret Thatcher had the naughty stuff aplenty: although what she did with it is still a subject for jacuzzi-socialists to debate furiously amid the steam and mirrors. But the fact remains that Mrs. T was nothing if not decisive.
Boris Johnson, doyen of the Brexiteers and improbable purveyor of historical parallels, is at least right with one of his many populist aperçus: there is no such thing as a single European polity and never has been. Any attempt to impose one à la bruxellois is therefore bound to be antidemocratic and ultimately a failure. But European aspirations to unity are not therefore completely foolish: the paradox is that Europe, as a collective, needs to defend itself against Turkey. And against Turkey, no matter who will be leading it after Recep Tayyip Edoğan’s eventual apotheosis. This is the crux that at last should be inducing Europe to confront the reality of its own political non-existence. European foreign and defence policy exists only as a nullity. Turkey, as a member of NATO, renders the venerable anachronism useless for operations on Europe’s external borders. Of course, slipping Turkey a low-doc member’s pass over the weekend would square that little difficulty away. But no: European foreign policy is simply whatever Mrs. M feels. Since what she is feeling today does not entail executive action, there is no need for a unified armed-forces command. This at least has the merit of ratifying Europe’s constitutional impotence: music to the ears of liberal-progressives and the born-again soixante-huitards of Nuit Debout. Henry Kissinger once famously asked whether anyone had Europe’s telephone number. One-time US Defense Secretary and accomplished philosopher, Donald Rumsfeld, imagined Old Europe populated by “cheese-eating surrender-monkeys”. There can be little doubt that in Washington and Moscow, the captains of these continental states regard Europe as a collection of bijou theme-parks strung along the Rhine-Danube.
While Frau M continues to make a Christian virtue of her elective submission, Mr. Erdoğan again toys ostentatiously with the demographic sluice-gates. So much for Asian values. So much for values of any kind. Mr. Erdoğan has Europe by its slender Aryan throat.