The mood in Europe: Perplexity and foreboding

Giles Merrit, director of Forum Europe and secretary-general of Friends of Europe, has another article today in the Herald Tribune. He believes Europe can salvage something from the fallout over Iraq, being able to forge a new a strong United Europe with its new Constitution. But he also see problems ahead.

In the meantime, a strange mood of perplexity and foreboding has settled on Europe. Perplexity, because the Iraq war’s aftermath is a tangle of new crises whose consequences are still unclear. Foreboding, because few doubt that Europe will sooner or later pay a high price for a war that was not of its making.

The atmosphere in Brussels is particularly troubled and unfamiliar. The EU’s policy vacuum on Iraq-related issues looks almost total. No one has advanced a realistic plan for repairing either the trans-Atlantic rift or the divisions between EU governments themselves. The wider concern is the prospect of an endemic Christian-Muslim conflict, for Europeans increasingly fear the “clash of civilizations,” even if Americans don’t.