Waarom ‘de ziel van Europa’?

Europa wordt aangevallen. We kunnen deze dreiging alleen afwenden als Europa eensgezind is. Zolang eensgezindheid ontbreekt, is Europa een speelbal van kwade machten.

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Europe’s grand strategy

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From: Engelsberg Ideas. Featured image:

In 1953, Dwight Eisenhower had just been inaugurated as the 34th president of the United States when, in the Soviet Union, Stalin’s 29-year rule ended with his death on March 5.

Eisenhower strongly believed in the illuminating qualities of energetic debates. He wanted the brightest minds in the United States to consider the future of their national security policy in the post-Stalin era. To that end, Eisenhower devised Project Solarium ; he established three task forces to separately analyze US-Soviet relations after Stalin’s death. Each of these three groups was staffed by 21 members, including experts, diplomats and military officers, who worked in isolation for about six weeks during intensive 12- to 14-hour days. Each team had unlimited access to U.S. government expertise and information. On the day of the presentation, Eisenhower listened intently to the findings of the three panels. His conclusion greatly influenced American strategy from then on. Project Solarium is seen by historians and scholars as an example of a valuable strategy design process from which Europe can learn important lessons.

Europe now faces a similar turning point as Eisenhower did in 1953. It must make fundamental decisions about how to proceed. A useful next step would be to start a process similar to Project Solarium.

The European Union could take on this process of strategic reflection, but a smaller group of like-minded European states aware of the monumental task ahead could also do the job. Indeed, when it comes to long-term strategic planning, all of Europe disappoints. Most European states’ strategic documents (e.g., Germany’s June 2023 National Security Strategy and the EU’s 2022 Strategic Compass) do not provide a clear strategy for addressing the key security challenges facing Europe. Such documents are wish lists. They stress the importance of peace, the rule of law, multilateralism and sustainable development, but provide little detail on how to achieve these goals. Most importantly, no strategic trade-offs are presented. People mistakenly believe that Europe can have it all: territorial security and generous social spending; environmental protection and boundless economic prosperity; a focus on the rule of law and good relations with every country in the world, even authoritarian states like China.

On reflection, Europe can choose from three different major strategies. Each strategy paints a different picture of how Europe can use its diplomatic, military, economic and technological resources coherently to achieve its core national interests of peace and prosperity.

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