International Spectator

The International Spectator

Volume XXXIII No. 1 (January-March 1998)


Global Interdependence and the Case of Europe *
By Cesare Merlini


Although it was a watershed of historic importance, the collapse of the Soviet empire had only a limited influence on the trends under way. True, the end of the “balance of terror ” brought about a radical change in the security picture, in that it is no longer possible to trace almost all actual or potential conflicts back to it. This determined a certain proliferation of local conflicts—be they national, ethnic, religious or tribal—and hence a perception of fragmentation and destabilisation of security, generating a sort of idealisation of past “stability”. However, a broader vision of security called “comprehensive security ” had already gained currency prior to the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Its first manifestations were concern for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, for terrorism, for trans-national environmental risks, in the fight against drugs and organised crime and more recently, in the search for ways of curbing and channelling migrations. Now these “new” security problems remain very prominent and are characterised by

Above all, economic trends, characterised by growing internationalisation, have continued on their course; indeed, the opening up of economies that had previously been strictly controlled by Marxist-inspired governments has further accelerated internationalisation. However, the qualitative changes resulting from globalisation have been more important than the quantitative ones.


Today and a Century Ago

Taking a closer look at the changes brought about by globalisation, the first question that comes to mind is whether this phenomenon is new and different from past economic interdependence. Assuming that the latter is quantified by the share of foreign trade in the formation of the gross domestic product, Dani Rodnik states that, “By many means, the world economy was possibly even more integrated at the height of the gold standard in the late 19 th century than it is now”, 1   In his opinion, the difference lies in the rise of the social state, which poses problems of compatibility with globalisation in democratic and industrialised countries. Instead, the major difference may be inherent in the nature of the globalisation phenomenon itself, which is linked more to the movement of capital than to that of goods. And another differentiating factor, even if indirect, is demography which, on the one hand, throws the social state into crisis and, on the other, is the cause of the age imbalance between the emerging and the mature industrialised areas. The possible contradiction between global competition and the social state, which is so central to many current American analyses, only seems to come after these two factors.

The movement of capital was greatly favoured by the deregulation of the internal market and generated the dual phenomenon of investment mobility and speculation by that mysterious collective subject that keeps government leaders and central bankers from getting a good night’s sleep: the markets. But the dual phenomenon creates a dual problem: on the one hand, the dialectics between competition and antitrust rules, on the other, taxation. Both aspects converge in a new question which is, is “re-regulation” of the international market required and, if so, by whom?

Rainer Masera states that, “... competition (...) leads to increased concentration and consolidation. Initially, these developments are good for the consumer (... ). However, once the consolidation battle is over, the danger exists that global groups will exploit their global market power in a traditional oligopolistic fashion,” and concludes, “... global competition laws, enforced by a supranational competition authority (... ) are required.” 2   Similarly, Henry Kaufman, the head of the Wall Street Investment Fund, proposes that “a Board of Overseers of leading international institutions and markets should be organised by the key industrial nations” 3   —something more than the modest cooperation and monitoring initiatives that the G-7 has been able to perform so far.

To describe the fiscal question, one could use the title of the cover story of The Economist of 31 May 1997: “The disappearing taxpayer”. The article states that “governments everywhere will have to start thinking— and soon— about how to raise taxes in the newly weightless global economy...”, calling it a question “of sovereignty and equity”. As Masera put it, “globalisation makes national economic governance, in many cases, inadequate.” 4


The Purse and the Throne

While the (almost) free planetary movement of capital has represented a radical qualitative change with respect to the movement of goods, this does not mean that the latter is irrelevant with respect to the question of the sovereignty of nation states. Leaving aside the process that established the European “common market” and then turned it into the “single market” (semantics is important here), another transition can be considered here: that of the General Agreement for Tariffs and Trade (GATT) into the World Trade Organisation (WTO), that is, the transition from an “agreement” to an “organisation”—another innovation that is more than semantic in that the latter is endowed with the power, at least on paper, to enforce its decisions in settling trade disputes between its members, a dominant and growing proportion of the world’s countries.

Thus, the historic conflict between the Purse and the Throne which Barbara Spinelli sees in the periodic tensions between central banks and governments in Europe, in particular, those between the Bundesbank and the German Chancellor, 5   could also be seen in the relationship between markets and states at the global level.

Then there is the problem of macroeconomic governance. Although generally attributed in Europe to the need to respect the Maastricht criteria, the tendency of states to eliminate their chronic budget deficits and, consequently, their indebtedness is not a phenomenon limited to Europe. After the United States, an increasing number of countries have undertaken the same course and various emerging economies seem to be set on respecting a certain fiscal rigour from the start, with or without the encouragement (or constraint) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

This course is repeatedly explained in terms of socio-economic factors, such as the ageing of the relatively affluent population and the safeguarding of the younger generations, the designated victims of the debt. One tends to overlook, however, now that national conflicts are rarer and the memory of major conflicts is slowly fading, that there has been a decline in the “war economy” mentality which historically generated (or at least favoured) and legitimated public debt.

Indeed, relatively minor conflicts, when they burst out (or sometimes only loom on the horizon) are met with an international reaction that is quite different from what it was a century ago. Attempts to avoid or at least contain them are now made by large and heterogeneous coalitions often apparently unrelated to geopolitical interests. At the same time, domestic and international consensus for interventions that obviously go against the principle of non-interference is more widespread. The International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia in The Hague is a supranational court in embryo, even though it can only take action against the convicted through the states.

The result one hopes to attain is that the costs of aggression (or terrorist acts) will be greater than the benefits (even though the populations of the aggressor states are often penalised more than their leaders).

Finally, another change affecting the growing relationship between economics and the broader concept of security mentioned earlier is the capability of handling information and controlling information networks.

Although the qualitative and quantitative differences between the globalisation of today and the interdependence of a century ago have been underlined, what happened to the latter should not be overlooked. As Rodnik says, “The lesson from history seems to be that continued globalisation cannot be taken for granted. If consequences are not managed wisely and creatively, a retreat from openness becomes a distinct possibility.” 6

What determined the previous “retreat from openness”? In December 1900 (yes, nineteenhundred!), an editorialist in The Economist wrote, “In the century now closing one of the most conspicuous features in Europe has been the rise and growth of nationalities. (... ) The movement has been liberally applauded by the world at large as a manifest sign of progress. Doubtless, the world is right in the main, but the progress thus secured has involved a high price. (... ) Separate national interests, or supposed interests, have been created. (... ) A nation needs a material basis for its existence and so rival tariffs have arisen. It needs defence and, therefore, armies, navies and huge armaments have come into being. (... ) In a word, Europe is no longer a moral unit, but a series of mutually jealous nationalities, competing with one another, and obliged to incur immense loss and waste by rival armaments and tariffs.” 7   In fact, the long European “civil war” that began in 1914 destroyed the economic interdependence even more than the industrial capacity of the European countries.

Today, things have to be seen from a planetary perspective, in which Europe has lost the centrality that it enjoyed in the 19 th century. Obviously the world has never represented a comparable “moral unit”, but it is nevertheless showing signs of convergence towards exceptionally similar economic, political and cultural standards. This brings us to the crux of the question of nation and integration.


Nation and Integration in the New Context

In the new international situation, international institutions and states coexist and interact in a mix of cooperation and competition. There is widespread consensus that this coexistence is bound to last. There is also consensus on the fact that the primary actors are still the nation states and that institutions draw legitimacy and power from the states that compose them. At the same time, it is generally accepted that the role of the nation state is increasingly challenged by other public and private, sub-national, supranational and trans-national actors, to the point that there is much debate about the end of the nation state in the not too distant future.

One must not forget, first of all, the enormous differentiation among the states making up the international community—a differentiation that has, if anything, been accentuated by the end of the Cold War, enhancing the global role of the US (no longer contested by a comparable power) and multiplying the number of small states, as well as sub-states and national or sub-national entities. This has created a hierarchy in which the yardstick of “power” is uncertain and largely subjective. Consequently, the concept of a “medium power”, which seems to be quite popular today, almost lacks meaning when used in reference to a state as such. What is important is not the “amount”, but the “kind” of power a state employs and perceives, and above all, whether it belongs to coalitions of interests and values. Therefore, the regional contexts and the spheres of integration of which a country is a part are decisive, except for a few pariah states.

But the institutions of interdependence are also strongly differentiated: regional, trans-regional or global; sectoral or general; economic, political and/or military (today, significantly, the words “of security” are preferred). What may be of specific interest here is their level of integration, that is, the degree of transfer of competencies, of enforcement powers and, ultimately, of sovereignty (which is the real measure of the irreversibility of the transfer) from the member states.

There is a link between the differentiation of states and that of institutions. In general terms it can be said that the homogeneity of the member states—in terms of size and type of power, shared interests and values—favours integration and mitigates the hierarchy. To give very schematic examples: the European Union is highly homogeneous and integrated; NATO is a hybrid of hegemony and integration; the UN is characterised by the highest degree of differentiation and, therefore, the lowest degree of integration. The level of integration seems to be the best yardstick of the “power”, so to speak, of institutions, both with respect to other institutions and, what is of more interest here, with respect to states.

An important argument in favour of the primacy of the nation state over the institutions of integration is that the latter do not have the investiture of the people. As is well known, the “democratic” representation in international institutions is given to the government (or its emanations) according to the one-country, one-vote principle. A few institutions, the EU and the Atlantic Alliance, in the first instance, have compounded this intergovernmental system with directly or indirectly elected parliamentary assemblies with limited powers. This is not the place to enter into the substance of this—old—debate, but it must be observed that the changes in the economy and in international security mentioned earlier have facilitated a loss of control on the part of the states over the processes under way, albeit with major differences from case to case. The phenomenon is, however, widespread enough to raise a few doubts about the state being a satisfactory vehicle of democratic control.

In addition to inter-state institutions, non-governmental trans-national organisations (NGOs) are also enjoying growing influence: is there any need to mention Amnesty International, Médecins Sans Frontières, WWF, Greenpeace, as well as a host of religious organisations (sects?), scientific organisations, entrepreneurial organisations? It is difficult to deny that they have some integrative function at the societal level and at times, make up for the shortcomings of governments—something which is occasionally recognised by the governments themselves. It is interesting to note that with the new fashion of “partnership” agreements in various areas of the world, such as the Mediterranean Partnership and the Partnership for Peace, explicit reference is made to the need to develop relations among countries at the level of civil society and, therefore, to the role of NGOs to this end.

Since the nation vs. integration issue discussed above is giving rise to debate in various parts of the world, it may be useful at this point to examine the different approaches. Simplifying somewhat, three examples seem to be particularly telling:

Modernists vs. realists in the US

To describe the American debate, a widely used (although not entirely acceptable, as will be clarified later) terminology has been adopted, which is utilised in particular by Robert Zoellick, a declared exponent of the “realist” school, like many of Kissinger’s disciples. 8   In a paper written at the end of 1996, Zoellick conceded, first, that important actors other than nation states are emerging, but underlined that the phenomenon is only a partial novelty. To the question, “what is left for the nation state?”, he replies, “a great deal”. In fact, “the nation state remains the most powerful actor in the global system, although it certainly does not have a monopoly of power [author’s note: and that’s the problem!]. The nation state also remains the greatest holder of military power”... in a world that “remains a very dangerous place”. 9   After having considered the most advanced case of integration in the world, the European Union, and having written it off as a global player with an “I suspect that over time ‘European’ policy will increasingly reflect the wishes of a concert of Germany, France and perhaps the UK”, he concludes with a classic understatement: “The United States remains a particularly important nation state in the world today.”

Zoellick defines “modernists” as those who give more importance to economic aspects and who prefer the terminology of interdependence, trans-nationality, intergovernmentalism, etc. A well known proponent of this school is Joseph Nye, who coined the term “soft power” as the “ability to achieve desired outcomes in international affairs through attraction rather than coercion”. 10   Not only has Nye stressed the importance of trans-national forces in several publications, but he has recently developed the concept of power coming from information. “Knowledge, more than ever before, is power. The one country that can best lead the information revolution will be more powerful than any other.” And he adds, as if it were necessary, “For the foreseeable future, that country is the United States. America has apparent strength in military power and economic production. Yet its more subtle comparative advantage is its ability to collect, process, act upon, and disseminate information, an edge that will almost certainly grow over the next decade.” 11   Hence, the issue is whether information is a more pervasive kind of power than, say, military power.

It is now time to examine the terminological reservations expressed earlier. The objection is to the term “realist” because it could imply that the opposite position, which underlines change and advocates multilateral and consensus solutions, is less realistic or even naive. Actually, no one is disputing the fact that the world is “a dangerous place” or that the nation states are still—more or less—the most powerful actors, that is, that they are a part of the solution. The point is that, as was implicit in the editorial of The Economist of almost a century ago and as is still the case today, they are also a part of the problem in the sense that their presence as separate actors contributes to making the place more dangerous, unless they are constrained by binding institutions.

Federalists vs. nationalists in Europe

The terminology used in this second instance, is admittedly no less debatable. To define as “nationalists” all the critics of the process of integration including those in favour of a Thatcherian free trade area or a Gaullist Europe des Patries,could be an over-extrapolation of extreme positions that no doubt exist and flourish in several European countries.

Analogously, the term “federalist” could fail to represent all the supporters of more advanced integration; in any case, it must be set into the current context. The idea of a two-level European federal state in the American mode, to some extent reproduced in the constitution of the German Federal Republic, may no longer be feasible. It faded away in 1954, with the failure of the European Defence Community. Today, federalism must take into consideration the evolution of nation states, which are, as described earlier, being increasingly put into question; although this process is not exclusive to the European dimension, it is particularly advanced in it.

The substance of this debate on Europe is discussed in other contributions to this issue. It basically deals not only with the alternative between a balance of power among sovereign states and supranational institutions, but also with different degrees of integration, so as to make membership in the European Union irreversible, particularly that of Germany in order to prevent its return to an oscillatory role in the centre of the continent, which would inevitably be the case if there were a concert of powers as Zoellick suggests. In the end, the question is whether sovereignty can be divided and shared, and if so, how.

Globalism vs. multiculturalism in Asia

Very interesting, and little known in Italy before the recent crisis, is the debate under way in Eastern Asia. The terminology requires some clarification here as well. Those who feel that Asian countries can learn from the experiences of multilateralism or integration developed in the West, in particular, Europe, are called “globalists”, even though they would apply that experience with an eye to Asian specificities and the transformations generated by the information revolution and the movement of capital. The issue is whether to accept interdependence and to organise it with similar initiatives at the regional (ASEAN) and multi-regional (APEC and ASEM) levels, taking advantage of some convergence of interests and values with the West. 12

Those who want to pursue separate national and mutually diffident paths or fear that convergence with the West would be tantamount to bringing an elephant aboard a canoe, put the accent on cultural differences, national heritage and the principle of non-interference. Concealed behind these positions are often authoritarian regimes which accuse the defenders of human rights of colonialism. The recent divergences between the EU and ASEAN with regard to Myanmar and between the US and the Indonesian military junta, which is even calling for a rewriting of the UN Charter on Human Rights, are cases in point.

In reality, authoritarian regimes try to draw maximum economic advantage from interdependence and globalisation without losing their power, attributing to the Asian culture the superiority of the common interest over that of the citizen, as is the case in China, and the functionality of authoritarianism for economic development, as is the case in Singapore. Amartya Sen has convincingly labelled this as false and a pretext. 13

It is no coincidence that there are also political forces, civil movements and intellectual groups in these countries that, while emphasising their Asian specificity, agree to convergence towards integration or, in any case, common interests and common values with the West. In fact, they accuse us of mercantile opportunism when we seek ambiguous or compromise solutions to controversies with the authoritarian regimes to defend our economic interests.

Then again, from a planetary point of view, it can be observed that Boutros Ghali’s Agenda for Peace, which proposed an increase in the UN’s powers of surveillance and intervention and, therefore, greater power internationally, was scuttled not only by the US, jealous of its effective sovereignty, but also, on the other end of the power scale, by small countries defending their fictitious sovereignty and, above all, by authoritarian regimes protecting their abusive sovereignty.


The Geopolitics of the Nation/Integration Balance

The end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union has had two unexpected and apparently paradoxical consequences:

Actually, there is an explanation for both of these developments. The United States acquired its current global role by combining policies based on power and balance of power (of which the “balance of terror” was a macroscopic example) with that innovative foreign policy paradigm called “institution building”. The survival, or rather the strength of Western institutions and of Western-inspired global institutions after the end of the Cold War is possibly the real reason why the West “won” out over the East.

As for Germany, reunification was the reward for the decision it took in the sixties and seventies to opt for European integration instead of national unity as the main objective of its foreign policy. The return of the eastern part of the country would come later; no date was set.

German reunification may now have reopened the “German question” in Europe. This issue underlies the Euro debate in that country itself. Today, the reunited Germany is the only large European country that has an alternative to integration in the Union: aiming at oscillatory hegemony in central Europe. It is an alternative that would have its costs and risks for the Germans themselves and it would not be a return to the role it enjoyed at the beginning of the century because Europe is different today, but it is an alternative.

Is there also an emerging American question? The answer seems to be “yes”. It substantially concerns the relative importance given to continuing the policy of leadership-with-institutions mentioned above or turning to a new policy of isolationism-and/or-unilateralism in American foreign policy. The recent mix is not very coherent, for while there have been the Helms-Burton law, the reservations on the WTO, the unilateral ousting of Boutros Ghali by a country that does not pay its UN fees, there have also been NAFTA, APEC and the enlargement of NATO.

The US position towards Europe is also increasingly contradictory. Verbal approval of European integration 14   has been accompanied by other signs to the contrary: 1) the opening of the single market was met with a campaign against “Fortress Europe”; 2) the European Monetary Union project has been viewed alternately with scepticism, criticism and fear; 3) the development of a European security and defence identity through the WEU’s entry into the EU has been hindered—even if informally—by Washington, contributing to its postponement at the Amsterdam European summit.

Even more than Germany, the United States can allow itself the luxury of choosing one road or the other. As mentioned earlier, debate is under way in the American internationalist elite between the supporters of institutions and the advocates of Realpolitik. But while the “modernist” Nye and his school uphold a soft version of American hegemony that goes under the name of leadership (and this is not, as seen, merely a semantic distinction) and institution building, the “realist” Zoellick is wondering whether the United States is losing its ability and will to act as a coalition leader. 15

At the root of this concern is the growing and unpredictable role of Congress with its many new members inexperienced in international affairs and, in the longer term, of public opinion which has been rather stable to date, but is subject to the influence of the media, which gives very little attention to world problems, as quantified in Foreign Affairs last year. 16

The problem is whether the erratic behaviour of Congress and public opinion towards unilateralism and isolationism is favoured by the schools of thought that emphasise the primacy of the national interest, above all, the interest of the United States. The answer seems to be positive, also in light of an ethic—or perhaps a kind of ethical self-righteousness—that has historically influenced American foreign policy and the nation’s consensus for it.


International Governance

It has already been noted that the American and Western victory in the Cold War was determined not only by NATO’s response (e.g. in the Euromissile dispute) or by Reagan’s military economics (e.g. the SDI technological offensive), but also by the validity of Western institutions. It is no coincidence that they survived the collapse of the Wall, indeed that membership in them has become the aspiration of many countries, as attested to by the line-up in front of NATO’s doors, and Russia’s candidacy for the G-7, as well as for the WTO—along with China.

Another survivor of the Cold War is the nuclear non-proliferation regime, made up of institutions (such as the International Atomic Energy Agency—IAEA, part of the UN) and treaties (such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and those for regional “Nuclear Weapon Free Zones”), protocols and conventions. The regime has often been the object of criticisms, objections and predictions of imminent end by members of the realist schools, except, of course, the one in the United States (and excluding the American extremist fringes already mentioned). And yet, while not universal (there are important “outs” and suspected violations), it has now been strengthened by the adhesion of China and France, and completed with the Test Ban Treaty. The NPT confers significant “enforcement” powers on the IAEA with respect to member states, albeit with the well known distinctions and privileges for recognised nuclear countries, and now constitutes a frame of reference for other disarmament negotiations.

Thus, there is a diversified—at times intricate—set of Western or Western-inspired institutions and agreements that is extending not only to the countries of the former rival bloc, but also to some formerly “non-aligned” areas, which are taking on growing importance in geo-economics and therefore also in geopolitics. As already mentioned, the degree of integration varies greatly from case to case, but a general process of inclusion is under way.

This is not a surreptitious attempt to impose a new colonialism, as some residual leftist advocates of “Third Worldism” in the West claim, in agreement with the nationalists of emerging areas. Nor is it an attempt to introduce a world government, as the pacifists imply with their utopian extrapolations and the realists pretend to fear. This is a matter of governance, not of government. It is an attempt, both comprehensive and specific to local situations, to extend the rule of law and the role of institutions between and above the nation states, among states and non-state entities and this cannot be achieved simply by juxtaposing and adapting national interests, but by defining and defending common ones.

The absolute priority given to national interests (or “supposed national interests” to cite The Economist of 1900 again), instead of defining or defending them in parallel to common ones, de facto puts the latter in jeopardy. The imperative of the simultaneous and complementary “distributive bargain” and “integrative bargain” that Putnam sees at the origin of the G-7, but that could be applied to many other instances is thrown into question. 17   Not only has the fashion of establishing working groups and consensus committees on national interests which blossomed in the United States in the early nineties achieved modest conceptual results, it has also had a negative effect on the reciprocal perceptions of the intelligentsia and policy-making community, contributing to the present phase of uncertainty in American foreign policy of which even some of the participants in those groups complain.

That leaves the problem of the investiture of the actors and the legitimation of acts of international governance. Obviously, no exhaustive solution to the problem can be proposed. But the thesis that since the majority of countries has found a form of investiture and legitimation—democracy in a nation state—then the sovereignty of this state must be protected in order to defend democracy, seems to be both inadequate and misleading. There are facts that cannot be overlooked: the markets function via a computer network neglecting borders; corporate executives take their decisions in board of directors meetings and respond to stock holders wherever they are; even crime is no longer a challenge to a specific state. If the taxpayers vanish, the reverse of the old adage “no taxation without representation” suggests that the voters eventually will, too.

The international legitimacy given to authoritarian states safeguards domestic abuse. Given this acceptance of abuse, the international public opinion now increasingly informed of it doubts the legitimacy not only of the prevaricating state but also of those states which remain passive in the face of the prevarication.

Therefore, as many commentators underline, at the very time when Western democracy is enjoying an unprecedented degree of diffusion, it may be in the process of being surpassed by global and local transformations. The challenge is not to reject the Western model, but to find new legitimation for it.


Europe in the World

An attempt has been made here to set the case of Europe in the framework of the new world context. This is rarely done today, with Europeans tending prevalently to compare themselves with other Europeans and to relate themselves to their history. This may be because they have not yet perceived the extent to which Europe is today only one continent among many. Little attention is directed towards Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and Africa. The United States is a partial exception, with respect to which the Europeans have developed an imitation complex (above all in the economic field, but also with respect to a certain “way of life”) and a strategic dependence.

But it is interesting that Europe seems to withdraw before the emergence of new continents towards which it previously had attitudes of superiority and post-colonial arrogance or, on the other end of the political spectrum, a sense of guilt mixed with neo-charitable or neo-revolutionary sentiments. Progressive parties seem to be increasingly at odds with the widespread perception of the conflict between the generosity of the Western social state and a world market open to the less developed economies.

In the case of Europe, the nation vs. integration debate is particularly advanced. In the geopolitics of continents at the end of the century, the unification process can be seen as an attempt to halt the trend towards European decline that has characterised the “short century” (1913-89). This reading confers a specificity upon European interdependence, indeed, it qualifies it as the “most advanced case” in a process of integration that may gradually be extending over the other parts of the planet.

The ever more populated Community/Union “bandwagon” has been both a “dimension” (market, security) and “subject” (common policies). It started as a dimension when the Economic Communities were preferred to a Defence Community (1954). But it also became a subject, above all, of trade policy. With globalisation and the new framework of international security, the dimension loses importance and the challenge is increasingly concentrated on the subject. If this challenge is not met, Europe will lose specificity and decline will set in.

But at the same time, in order to orient its action as a subject, Europe must ask itself whether it is more in its interest that the priests of balance of power or the soothsayers of interdependence and integration prevail in the rest of the world, from the United States to Southeast Asia; whether it is better that sovereignty be jealously guarded by nation states or that forms of international institutionalisation and legitimation develop.

In concrete, returning to the examples given, should we feel more sympathetic towards the American realists, who see the future as being in the hands of a convoy of powers led by the hegemony and “hard power” of the United States or towards the supporters of an international system that is more in keeping with the current degree of global interdependence, in which American leadership is exercised in strengthening institutions and using the more permeable forms of power?

And in Asia, should we contribute to the prevalence of the globalists, or of those who, under the cover of Asian specificity, want to perpetuate a balance of power which is reminiscent of that of Europe in the last century and perhaps conceals human rights abuses?

It would seem that in the interests both of the European states and of Europe as a subject, American foreign policy should steer its way more clearly towards multilateralism and the institutions; not only does it have enough room for manoeuvre to do so, but it may also find that Europeans are not secondary to the purpose. Analogously, the growth in other areas of forms of regional integrative cooperation or multilateral, continental or global institutions and accords will contribute to enhancing Europe’s role in the world, as much in the field of culture as in those of politics and economics.


Cesare Merlini is President of the IAI.



*: Translation is by Gabriele Tonne.  Back.

Note 1: D. Rodnik, “Has globalisation gone too far?” (Washington DC: Institute for International Economics, 1997). Yet use of the word “integrated” to refer to a space in which trade is well developed, although common, is incorrect. Trade generates relations and interdependence, but not integration, unless it is accompanied by rules and institutions.  Back.

Note 2: R. Masera, “The global economy: key figures and main linkages”, report to the XXIV UNIPEDE Congress, Montreux, 18-22 May 1997.  Back.

Note 3: Financial Times (personal view), 7 July 1997.  Back.

Note 4: Masera, “The global economy”.  Back.

Note 5: B. Spinelli, La Stampa, 9 February 1997.  Back.

Note 6: Rodnik, “Has globalisation gone too far?”  Back.

Note 7: “Europe and America”, The Economist, 29 December 1900.  Back.

Note 8: Extreme schools like that of Mearsheimer and Waltz will not be considered here, as their interest is limited to academic circles, although they are often quoted by Italian “realists”.  Back.

Note 9: R. Zoellick, “Security requirements in the Western world: the current relevance of the nation state”, The Atlantic Conference, Marbella, Chile, 14-17 November 1996.  Back.

Note 10: J. S. Nye, Bound to Lead: the Changing Nature of American Power (New York: Basic Books, 1990).  Back.

Note 11: J. S. Nye and W. A. Owens, “America’s information edge”, Foreign Affairs, March-April 1996.  Back.

Note 12: Asia was chosen as an example for its size and current interest, but South America could have been taken equally well for regional (Mercosur) or trans-regional (NAFTA) initiatives. It is more difficult to find examples in the Arab world, something that is not without significance.  Back.

Note 13: A. Sen, “Human rights and Asian values”, The New Republic, 14-21 July 1997.  Back.

Note 14: The Transatlantic Declaration and the New Transatlantic Agenda.  Back.

Note 15: “I believe people have rushed to two mistaken conclusions. First, after the end of the Cold and Gulf Wars, some observers erred when they assumed that the decisions and actions of national governments were no longer critical to security. Second, after observing the failures and lack of capacity of international or supranational groups, the counterreaction led some, particularly the United States, to dismiss too quickly the benefits of international organisations and regimes. As a result, the United States has been undermining its capabilities to act as a coalition leader.” (Zoellick, “Security requirements in the Western world”)  Back.

Note 16: G. Utley, “The shrinking of foreign news”, Foreign Affairs, March-April 1997.  Back.

Note 17: “The Western Economic Summits: A Political Interpretation” in C. Merlini (ed.) Economic summits and Western decision-making (London: Croom Helm, 1984).  Back.