Should the EU adapt a proactive foreign policy?

Posted on 19. November 2012

by Stephan Kool

stephan-kool-modifiedThe  E.U. and predecessor organizations lack unity when it comes to a common foreign policy, especially when a conflict breaks out in a neighboring country as Adnan was able to point out in his recent blog. But the paradox is that this is more peaceful than any alternative foreign policy.

A better organized and quicker intervention in the Balkans early ’90 of the last century might have stopped violence, but this is said when looking back. Even with the UN peace force active in a region, there is no guarantee for peace. The most horrifying example is the Srebrenica failure by Dutch UN troops.

The morale is that if people really want to kill others or each other, they will find the means. Getting in between them will only make you a victim as well and might amplify the civil war. This is part of the reason why everyone is so hesitant to undertake any action in Syria. The problem we should care about is how to save civilian and innocent lives.

There is a nation with an alternative foreign policy to the EU: the United States of America. Their foreign policy is formed by a pro-active agenda “defending and spreading freedom and democracy” – which worked out great as many of the examples since the second world war show us.

The problem I have with a proactive agenda is that something needs to be “wrong” somewhere else in order to act. And whatever is wrong is not defined by international consensus but by your ideology and views of the world. This is how the USA used to “defend” us from communism and their most recent target, terrorism.

If it wasn’t clear already, I do not consider the USA foreign policy much improvement on world peace since the Second World War nor any other policy granting a one nation any right to act outside of its borders without agreement from the affected nation

The European Union did not resolve any major conflict outside of their borders, but neither did it create one. A conflict is an escalated symptom of a problem, not the problem itself. The problem itself, no matter the kind of problem, can only be resolved by having talks.  The EU style of conflict solving is not ideal and it is right to accuse it of being passive, but is by principle much better than what the USA offers as an alternative.