Revolutionary challenges require a doctrine to deal with them. Monroe and Truman came up with theirs. And Brezhnev imitated them and imposed order in Eastern Europe. Even Sinatra got one when Gorbachev proclaimed the “I did it my way” Doctrine. At our office in Madrid, our press officer Javier García suggests that Europe has adopted the “Garfunkel Doctrine” (remember “Sound of Silence”?).
The truth is that Europe has not developed a doctrine to deal with changes in North Africa. Or rather, it has got one: the Zero Doctrine. It wants to influence without interfering, protest without upsetting, condemn without imposing sanctions, support without risking, participate without paying.
In the market, only Coca-Cola has been able to survive offering a product with no caffeine and no sugar. Europe’s risk aversion fits perfectly here: it wants to enjoy the Coke of democracy and human rights in North Africa but without getting any excitement or calories.
Well, that’s not the way life works. These crises offer the EU a unique opportunity to show added value and vindicate its role in the world. However, so far its answer has been timid, bureaucratic, un-coordinated and always lagging well behind events and needs on ground. Worse than that, alarms about rising immigration and energy prices have made clear what an introverted EU is really concerned about and what is order of priority is.
For an allegedly “soft power”, so much concern about its security interests and so little focus on promoting change represents a puzzle. Before and after the Lisbon Treaty and the setting of the EEAS, European citizens allowed European foreign policy a period of grace: this is presumably now over. The eight measures Daniel Korski proposes in ECFR's briefing on Libya (published last Friday) are just about what people were expecting the EU to do by itself. I am very proud to belong to a think tank that can put eight great proposals on the table in record time, but quite worried that 27 foreign policy machineries and Brussels cannot manage to do likewise.
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