European Nations Can't Agree on a Common Foreign Policy

By William Pfaff Copyrights Creators Syndicate Inc. | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), February 11, 1994 | Go to article overview

European Nations Can't Agree on a Common Foreign Policy


William Pfaff Copyrights Creators Syndicate Inc., St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


The tragedy of Bosnia demonstrates the bankruptcy of the idea of collective international responsibility and action. The belief that it is up to "the international community" to do something in Yugoslavia has proved the decisive obstacle to anything serious being done.

Only nations act. That is what has been demonstrated. Serbia, in 1991 a nation but not yet a state, launched this war. The Croatian nation, which had contributed to provoking the war, retaliated against the Serbs. Subsequently a Bosnian nation, which before did not really exist, was created by the war and now has begun to impose its will upon events, to the dismay of Serbs and Croatians.

The international community, in all of its guises - United Nations, European Union, CSCE (Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization - has proved incapable of an effective response because it is internally divided.

There is no international community with a coherent common view of Yugoslavia or a capacity for common action.

Although NATO has warned Bosnian Serbs to lift their siege of Sarajevo or face air raids, some member nations opposed issuing the ultimatum. And previous threats from NATO achieved few results.

Only nations are responsible actors. Even when they act collectively, it is allied action, not community action. There is a fundamental difference. Nations are responsible. Communities are not. Alliances add up to more than their individual members because all have agreed on what to do. Communities add up to less, because their members do not necessarily agree, yet everyone has had to be brought along for the community to act at all.

The 12 countries of the European Union have been unable to agree on a common program of action and risk with respect to Yugoslavia because they have never reached a common agreement on how their interests are at stake. The European 12, plus the United States, simply do not see the Yugoslav issues in the same way. …

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European Nations Can't Agree on a Common Foreign Policy
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