First published in the Financial Times – 19 February 2003
Sir, The Spanish foreign minister (“EU divisions over Iraq can be mended”, February 17) justifies her government’s uncritical support for the US over Iraq, which has led to the rift between the “Europhile” core and the “Atlanticist” periphery of the European Union, on the grounds that Europe and the US share the same “values and principles” in international affairs.
Values yes, but principles no. President Bush, echoed by Tony Blair, is now talking about liberating the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein’s tyranny and bringing them democracy to compensate for the apparent weakness of his case for a preventive war. Though morally heroic, this represents a dangerous approach to achieving a sustainable, liberal world order which derives from an astonishingly unilateralist and all-embracing sense of America’s unique superpower status.
The EU, by contrast, is not only pioneering the most intimate international economic unification anywhere, but also the most evolved international rule of law and international democracy. Among its key purposes is to preserve, rather than erase, cultural diversity and to enjoy equality with the US and with other powers, not to suffer, nor to seek, any hegemony. The EU is potentially a model for regional co-operation beyond Europe, which will advance by example, not aggressive force. The deepening and widening of the EU thus, probably, offers the best pathway to eventually remedying the present flaws of the United Nations and related world bodies. Whether the US or the European blueprint for global economic, legal, political and cultural integration prevails is perhaps the greatest issue of our time. It is one the peoples of Europe seem to understand better than many of their rulers.
John Stevens is a former Member of the European Parliament and a member of Federal Union. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Federal Union.