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The European Union likes to think of itself as an innovation in international affairs, an attempt by its members to live peacefully with one another, as well as with outside states. It is an attempt to transcend geopolitics. As the President of the European Commission remarked at the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome:
We do so to solemnly renew our vows and reaffirm our commitment to our undivided and indivisible union. But we do so not out of nostalgia. We do so because only by staying united can we rise to the challenges we can face together. Only by staying united can we pass on to future generations a more prosperous, a more social and a safer Europe.
Unfortunately, Jean-Claude Juncker is not telling the whole story. As Nicholas Spykman, a Dutch-American strategic thinker, once remarked in Geography of the Peace (1944): “political ideas and visions unsupported by force appear to have very little survival value”. How did European integration emerge, deepen and expand then, insofar as the EU shies away from using military power, either for intervention or deterrence?
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