Be careful of what you wish for.
At last it seems that the answer has been given to Henry Kissinger’s famous existential cry of realpolitik angst, "Who do I call if I want to call Europe?" The answer is apparent to anybody who has been following the Iran crisis: Javier Solana, de facto Foreign Minister of the European Union.
As the crisis hit the headlines who was making the running, who was it who sat in a chair opposite the U.S. secretary of state? Why that personable Spanish socialist. At the press briefing before their indepth chat Condeleezza Rice made a couple of telling points, "I think we have met, I won’t even say how many times we’ve met in the last year, but it has been a lot." She also mentioned that the U.S. and the E.U. are, "together members of the Quartet." The other members of the Quartet are Russia and the U.N. Nice friends Ms. Rice is keeping.
An American might ask whether it is worth worrying about this at all, after all it is just recognition of reality. The E.U. is now a far more integrated place and they are our allies. Well, yes and no. Mr. Europe then spoke, "On Iraq and Afghanistan, we are on the same wavelength." I beg to differ, the E.U. and the U.S. are on different dials on Iraq. Actually, they are operating on different technology. Of the six main countries in the E.U., France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland and the U.K. just look at their priorities on Iraq. Germany and France famously went out on a limb to defend their trading links with Saddam. Solana’s Spain elected his socialist party as a result of the ghastly train bombings and removed its troops from Mesopotamia (not that it stopped terrorists targeting Spain). The Italian government this weekend announced that Italian troops will leave Iraq in 2006, starting with three hundred immediately, for electoral purposes. Poland has delayed its planned withdrawal but even she plans to leave before the end of 2006. All this of course leaves guess who?
Yup, it’s that anglospherical ally again. The country the Iranians call "the mother of all evils."
Of course many in the U.S. — okay, the State Department — have long wanted this, after all it make their work easier. Why listen to 25 whining ingrates when you can get it all over and done with in just a couple off hours. The problem is that the whining ingrates are essentially opposed to the actions of the U.S. and its serious allies of dealing with the very real dangers that face them.
A different problem that Mr. Europe faces is an utter lack of legitimacy. It might be convenient but it is convenient fiction. The post of the European Foreign Minister exists in theory. In Article 1, chapter 21 of the European Constitution we read: "The Union Minister for Foreign Affairs," just after the point where it states that, "The Union shall have competence to define and implement a common foreign and security policy, including the progressive framing of a common defence policy" and "Member States shall actively and unreservedly support the Union’s common foreign and security policy in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity and shall comply with the Union’s action in this area. They shall refrain from action contrary to the Union’s interests or likely to impair its effectiveness." What they, and the State department seem to have forgotten is that this position and his job have no authority. The fact that Solana and his supporters have been specifically rejected in the referenda in France and Holland is nothing to them. Solana is quoted as saying that his job should be created anyhow, without reference to popular support.
Now take a look at those quotations from the European Constitution and think about the ability of any European ally ever being able to support the U.S. again. So Condeleezza, do you really think that the efficiency of meeting one man rather than 25 is worth the prospective loss of allies?