Tue Mar 11th, 2008 at 04:01:43 AM EST
What is the real spirit and purpose of the European project? Some think of Europe, with enthusiasm or with distaste, as no more than a free-trade area. Yet from its beginnings the European dream has been far more than that. It was designed to bring stability and lasting peace to a war-ravaged continent. It offers a modern antidote to the ancient and continuing curse of international anarchy.
Historically, the only practical antidote was empire. One dominant nation ruled over many others and thus provided law and order, in place of anarchy, at international level. This is no longer feasible. The world has drunk deeply of the spirit of Woodrow Wilson, he who proposed in his Peace without Victory speech of 1917 "that no nation should seek to extend its polity over any other nation". Even if quarrelling tribes and nations were willing to accept imperial order, what state in the world today is able and willing to impose it?
Europe has another and better solution. The European Union is a "co-operative empire", a supranational authority in which every member state is subject to a common framework of laws, but also has a share in the making and administration of those laws. Here is a way to achieve international order without the dominance of one nation over others.
Promoted by Migeru