Conclusions: The choices to be made

  • Jan Zielonka
Part of the St Antony’s Series book series


In this book I have offered five possible explanations for Euro-paralysis. Not one, but all five explanations have turned out to be valid, but usually in a different sense than initially asserted. Put more bluntly; the five most frequently cited “truths” about European foreign policies have proved to be only half truths, if not misleading fallacies in some cases. And thus I have found that hegemonic “atavism” rather than hegemonic politics sui generis is the problem at present. None of the major European states aspires to political hegemony and military preponderance on the continent. EU states compete with each other in terms of economics rather than territorial acquisition or military assertiveness. And the key terms in this competition are “diffusion” rather than “concentration” of power, “down-sizing” rather than “up-sizing” of the government, “cooperation with” rather than “domination over” EU neighbors. The growing network of mutual interdependence between EU states, the decreasing salience of territorial issues, the presence of multi-sectoral institutional arrangements and the restraining effect of nuclear weapons suggest that old-style power politics is unlikely to return. However, some of the countries still cultivate imperial images and global pretensions, they indulge in bad habits of “playing off,” “ganging-up,” and parochial “bullying,” they still pursue the politics of glory and pride. I named this behavior hegemonic atavism, and of course it undermines common foreign and security endeavors. But atavism remains what it is — a resemblance to a remote hegemonic ancestor — and does not imply a “back to the future” scenario for the continent.


Foreign Policy National Identity Military Power Common Market Study Draft Treaty 
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Copyright information

© Jan Zielonka 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Zielonka
    • 1
  1. 1.European University InstituteFlorenceItaly

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