A veteran correspondent's bleak appraisal of the state of the European Union on the eve of a new millennium. Drawing largely on his own reportage and on statistical data, Newhouse (War and Peace in the Nuclear Age, 1988, etc.) reviews the many ways in which the alliance founded in 1957 as the Common Market has been marking time rather than advancing during the post-Cold War era. For example, citing the emergence of economic powerhouses at the local level (which stoutly resist the regulatory excesses of bureaucratic Brussels), he speculates that the EU could one day resemble the Hanseatic League to the extent that it was comprised of semiautonomous regions (Bavaria, Spanish Catalonia, northern Italy, et al.) rather than nation-states. The author (now a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution) goes on to assess the obstacles still impeding the integration of East and West Germany, the reluctance of Paris to accept the dominion of Berlin in continental affairs, and the oddly disinterested role played by the UK in the confederation's business. Covered as well are the 15-member coalition's hesitancy to acknowledge that expansion (not a chimerical monetary union) is job number one; the comparatively low priority accorded security; the cultural differences that continue to divide a putatively united Europe; and the reality (confirmed by the area's inability to respond decisively to conflicts in the Balkans) that America remains Europe's keeper--and its pre-eminent power. Newhouse also casts a cold eye on Germany's disinclination to provide an errant Europe with either entrepreneurial or political direction, and the impact of recent elections (in France, the UK, and elsewhere) on the ruinously expensive welfare policies of most member nations. An illuminating audit of the credits and debits amassed by the decidedly strange bedfellows constituting today's EU.