Last October, when writing about a post-cold war world, I ventured that among the great powers of the new multipolar order would be “Europe.” It was possible then to imagine a confederated Europe emerging from the structure of the EC. It is harder to imagine that now. Not because Germany is by policy its enemy, but because the rebirth of a great German nation within Europe is provoking a rebirth of national self-assertion throughout Europe. In this climate, it is impossible to think of a “Europe” emerging. As we head toward multipolarity, the pole that was to be “Europe” will instead be greater Germany. It is possible that Germany might still choose to subsume itself in Europe, but in the first flush of post-(cold)-war independence, that is hardly likely.
The Berlin Wall came down too soon. Had East Germany been the last Soviet province to fall, as we thought the Kremlin would insist, it might have been but a small piece digestible by a new and stable Europe. Having come so quickly, German unification threatens to disrupt the whole by creating in the heart of Europe a greater Germany that Europe cannot contain.
The danger is not that greater Germany will march across Europe but that its birth turns the twilight of sovereignty into a new dawn. It derails a process by which Europe was hoping to make itself safe from itself. We return instead to the old Europe, balance of power Europe, the Europe that produces more history than it can consume.
Source: Charles Krauthammer, “The German Revival,” New Republic, March 26, 1990.