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The Fate of Europe

by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor

Some critics of America's waging war in Kosovo say that that region has little historic or strategic interest for the United States. These critics may well be right in saying that the U.S. should not be waging war there, but regarding the strategic interest, they are missing the big picture. Kosovo is a pawn in the strategic game of Europe. The question is, who will own Europe in the 21st century?

There has been a contest for Europe ever since the collapse of the Roman Empire. The Roman Catholic Church held control during the Middle Ages, along with the Holy Roman Empire, dominated by German emperors. The house of Habsburg ruled much of Europe from 1400 to 1918 as emperors of Austria Hungary and also as rulers of Spain and the Holy Roman Empire. After the French revolution, Napoleon extended French control over much of Europe until his defeat. Germany conquered most of Europe during World War II.

After World War II, Europe became split in two. The Soviet Union dominated the eastern half, while the United States, via NATO, held sway over the western half. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 released Eastern Europe, and the government of the United States was eager to extend its influence eastward by expanding NATO to include Poland, Czechia, and Hungary.

Meanwhile, however, western Europe was unifying, creating the Common Market, which is now called the European Union. The latest step has been the creation of a common currency, the euro. This union is not only economic, but also political.

Joschka Fischer, the German foreign minister, has urged that the European Union become a "single political state." The eventual goal of many Europeans is to have a United States of Europe. A united Europe would have a larger population than the United States of America and challenge the US as another global superpower. Europe in turn would in turn be dominated by Germany, having the largest population and economy and being strategically located at the center and heart of Europe.

The newly elected German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said he would push for European integration. Schroeder also said that the crises in Yugoslavia "have dramatically highlighted the limits of the EU's ability to act where the common foreign and security policy is concerned." Many Europeans chafe at their dependency on the U.S.

The American domination of western Europe is only a half century old. Before that, the European countries were the leading global powers, with colonial and military domination of most of the world. How long would a united Europe continue under American military domination? Not long at all. Europe will rise again as a global economic and military power, this time united as a resurrected Roman Empire.

To continue maintaining its power in Europe as long as possible, the U.S. needs to keep being engaged. Now that the Cold War is over, Yugoslavia presents an excellent opportunity for the United States to extend its power into southeastern Europe. The NATO operation for Kosovo is mostly an American war, showing western Europe how it still relies on American military power. By waging war in Yugoslavia, the U.S. government is maintaining its grip on Europe; the big prize is all Europe, not just Kosovo.

The logical next step for Europe after a common economy and a common government is a common military force, a European Army. Germany, France, and the United Kingdom already have substantial armies. The UK and France have nuclear weapons. German Foreign Minister Fischer has stated, "If it is going to turn into a full union, then one day foreign and defense policy will also have to become community tasks."

While the economy of Russia today lies in ruin, the country still has a formidable military and could recover faster than most realize, given effective governance. European leaders as well as the U.S. government fear that Russia may attempt to regain its influence in Eastern Europe, using its ally Yugoslavia as a base. By acting against Yugoslavia now, the U.S. and Europe are countering this last foothold of Russian influence in Europe.

Now that the war in Kosovo has started, the refugee crisis may require military force to curb further tragedy and to prevent the Serbian forces from extending their brutal ethnic expulsions and murders to other groups and territories. But to understand the American involvement requires the realization that there are greater strategic interests at stake. The Chiefs of Government seldom act only for the public good, but in the interests of their power and the maintenance of the power of the state.

United Europeans will no longer wish to be subservient to the military power of the United States of America. Foreseeing military rivalry with Europe, the chiefs of government in the US may be seeking to maintain their military power in Europe as long as possible, and Yugoslavia has offered a splendid occasion to show Europe the American empire still has a hold on Europe, for now.

-- Fred Foldvary      

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Copyright 1999 by Fred E. Foldvary. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Fred Foldvary and The Progress Report.