Europe Crosses the Rubicon

The so-called “European Neighborhood Policy” has, so far, been a curious thing. There is much talk about it in the European Union, but little practical effect. It was meant as an alternative to the ever-increasing number of accession rounds, say, involving the countries in the southern Caucasus. But the war in Lebanon and its consequences have caused a sudden and fundamental change in the leisurely pursuit of this policy.

The Lebanon War has served as a harsh reminder to the European Union that it has “strategic interests” – security interests first and foremost – and that, should it choose to ignore them, the price will be high. Moreover, the division of labor between the US and Europe isn’t functioning in the time-tested manner of old: the ongoing war in Iraq is gnawing at America’s military capabilities and resulted in a crisis of moral and political legitimacy of the US across the Arabic/Islamic world.

With the decision of its member states to send several thousand soldiers to Lebanon to implement the UN cease-fire resolution 1701, the European Union has taken the most significant decision yet within its Neighborhood Policy. Can the EU in fact be able to emerge as a stabilizing political force in the most dangerous area of conflict within Europe’s immediate geopolitical neighborhood?

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