The will to world power

BERLIN One of the most influential political experts in Berlin believes that the opportunity has arrived to dispute ,,world hegemony"with the USA. He demands that the EU (which he sees as ,,a world power in the making") should make use of this chance. A foreign policy specialist of the SPD (Social Democrat Party) favours a rapprochement with the ,,islamic states"to which the EU could offer an alternative to the USA.

Werner Weidenfeld is Director of the Centre for Applied Political Research (CAP) and a member of the praesidium of the Bertelsmann Foundation, as well as of the German Society for Foreign Policy. He is reckoned to be the most influential foreign policy adviser in Germany. His article appeared in the newspaper Die Welt, which supports the opposition CDU (Christian Democrat Party) and is committed to the alliance with the USA and sceptical of the German government's aggressive policy.

Weidenfeld foresees an ,,epoch of disorder, risks and crises"for which no new ,,forms of order"existed until now. The USA had ,,neither the will nor potential"for a sustained policy of world hegemony. The United Nations could order nothing above its usual strength and capability. Since the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, NATO had lost its function and was displaying ,,elements of absurdity". Other potential world powers such as China, Russia and India showed ,,serious weaknesses"so that they were not in the running for ,,world hegemony".

,,A world power in the making"

It was however now valid for the EU to make use of the situation because it has the potential to be the leading world power. ,,The population of the EU will increase from today's 371 million to 539 million - almost twice as many as the USA. It's area is approximately 5,097,00 square kilometres, rather more than half that of the USA. The Gross Domestic Product is about 15% higher than the USA. This potential could secure the status of a world power - around 35% of world production (USA 27%) and 30% of world trade (USA 18%) lies in European hands. This potential carries outstanding weight". Not for the first time since 1989 the EU was a ,,world power in the making".

Weidenfeld believes that what the EU lacks to become the leading world power is essentially the will to power. He sees this deficit as ,,the lack of effective concentration of political energy and the failure to think in world-political categories": ,,The key question is this: can Europe translate this potential into world-political creative power?"Up to now the EU had merely been a ,,consensus machine". It did not provide a ,,world-political strategy and an offensive ability to handle crises and conflict". It not only lacked an ,,operational centre"(Berlin's claim to this role is no secret). Above all the EU lacked strategic thinking. This was Europe's ,,real Achilles' Heel". ,,There exists no agenda which can give direction to Europe in conflicts and crises. This is lacking for transatlantic disagreements as much as for the Near East, for ethnic explosions in the Caucasus as in South East Asia, for the Kashmir conflict as much as for the breakdown of African states".

,,The strengths of the law"

To achieve ,,world hegemony"Weidenfeld favours the closest possible German-French alliance. He cites the Sixties as an example, when Berlin and Paris took the ,,world political horizon"into their sights and attempted to found a ,,union of world-political relevance"(against the USA). Weidenfeld is supported by the SPD foreign policy specialist, Egon Bahr, who has for a long time propagandised for the enforcement of ,,German interests"against the USA (as in the title of his book). In the same newspaper Bahr explained that the closest possible contact between Berlin and Paris was ,,essential if Europe was to achieve its aim - namely self-determination".

The USA would try to frustrate an ,,independent Europe"( ,,I am firmly convinced that America prefers to deal with several rather than with one factor"). Bahr believes in keeping a lookout for further partners in an alliance and favours ,,a policy of reducing tensions with the islamic states"which he wishes to mobilise against the USA. ,,Europe should develop an acknowledgable alternative in its model of society, its armaments and in its policy so that the islamic world can percieve that there is not only one model in the Western world. They should be able to see that there are two Western models of society (...) We Europeans should try to establish that the strengths of law will supersede the law of greater American strength".

,,The frustrated World Power"; Die Welt 8/03/2003
,,When will we finally wake up?"; Die Welt 8/03/2003