A slender but not slight consideration of Europe’s future on a hostile planet.
British diplomat Cooper, once the UK’s ambassador to West Germany and now head of the government’s Defence and Overseas Secretariat, posits a world divided not into first, second, and third parts, pace Chairman Mao, but into “pre-modern,” “modern,” and “postmodern”: the first made up of such hopelessly backward, even failed states like Afghanistan, the next of distinct nation-states such as China, and the last of super, or perhaps supra, states—those that make up the European Union. These states coexist uneasily, pre-modern Rwanda alongside modern Argentina alongside postmodern Japan (“Unfortunately for Japan it is a postmodern country surrounded by states firmly locked into an earlier age,” each with its own sense of destiny). The US stands apart, in its way, if only because it has vastly outspent the rest of the world militarily—and then, Cooper writes, spent more efficiently—so that “were all the rest of the world to mount a combined attack on the United States they [sic] would be defeated.” Problem is, the world is changing; the most dangerous enemies of the peace are not states but nongovernmental groups, the most common wars civil and not imperial or state against state—and in any event, the world is probably no safer with one superpower than with many (“However admirable the United States may be—and for many it is the embodiment of freedom and democracy—would those qualities survive a long period of unilateral hegemony?”). In these three essays, Cooper wrestles with the implications, concluding that if Europe is to hold its own in this new world, it will have to have America’s ear: “And that means we shall need more power, both military power and multilateral legitimacy.”
Recommended reading for policy wonks, realpolitikers, and other students of the modern (and pre-modern, and postmodern) world.