Saturday, May 8, 2010

Helmut Kohl and European Unification

I'm not the biggest fan of European unification. From the neoconservative perspective, unification is essentially national neuterification. That said, I got a tinge of nostalgia at reading this morning's WSJ piece on Helmut Kohl. While he was Europe's greatest advocate, in the late Cold War era, for unification, he also embodied the ethos that German national power was the key to peace. Call it a hybrid unification model, holding state sovereignty as the hinge to functional transnational peace in Europe. And as you can see from the photo, Kohl was in good company. See, "Zeal and Angst: Germany Torn Over Role in Europe":


LUDWIGSHAFEN, Germany—Helmut Kohl, frail and confined to a wheelchair, returned to public view this week, imploring his countrymen not to abandon the goal he spent his political life pursuing: a united Europe.

"Today, I am convinced more than ever that European unification is a question of war and peace for Europe and for us, and the euro is part of our guarantee of peace," the former chancellor, his voice uneven and raspy, told guests at a celebration for his 80th birthday.

As Chancellor Angela Merkel looked on, Mr. Kohl issued a thinly veiled critique of her reluctance to help Greece, saying he couldn't understand "people who act as if Greece doesn't matter." Of course the situation is difficult, but Germany must pull out all the stops, he said, drawing applause from the crowd.

The scene underscored the threat Greece's turmoil poses to monetary union, the grandest expression of the European continent's drive toward integration. Mr. Kohl led the unification drive two decades ago. Now the increasingly disruptive debt problems in Greece and elsewhere post the question: What price is Germany willing to pay to save Europe?

Greek Debt Crisis Raises Doubts About the European Union‎."