Page 25 - proof

This is a SEO version of proof. Click here to view full version

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »
F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L
23
F
OCUS ON THE
E
URO
Z
ONE
D
EBT
C
R I S I S
W
HY THE
E
URO
C
RISIS
M
ATTERS
he euro zone crisis is not sim-
ply an economic issue. It is a political problem, one that
poses a grave challenge to the foreign policy and security
interests of the United States. And its fallout could affect
U.S. strategic interests for years to come.
The trans-Atlantic alliance, long the cornerstone of
America’s engagement with the world, was already erod-
ing before Europe’s sovereign debt problems came into
view, thanks to the alliance’s lack of a clear future mission
and the lure of Asia. As the continent’s economic prob-
lems accelerate, they accentuate the alliance’s underlying
problems, complicating Washington’s ability to deal with
its myriad foreign challenges.
Sovereign debt defaults by one or more euro zone
countries and the subsequent potential breakup of the
euro zone could well lead to stagnant economic growth,
debilitating introspection and self-preoccupation in Eu-
rope.
“A Europe that is not united,” warns Simon Serfaty, a
scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Stud-
ies in Washington, D.C., “is, by definition, less strong.
And a Europe that is less strong will become increasingly
less vital to the United States in the 2010s, when Ameri-
can power will need to rely on allies that are not only will-
ing, but capable.”
The U.S.-European partnership and U.S. foreign pol-
icy have weathered potentially debilitating challenges in
the past, to be sure: France’s withdrawal from NATO in
1966, the VietnamWar of the late 1960s and early 1970s,
the basing of American intermediate-range nuclear mis-
siles in the early 1980s, the wars in the Balkans in the
1990s and, most recently, the Iraq War.
Thanks to U.S. strategic leadership, the trans-Atlantic
alliance remains solid, suggesting America can weather
this storm, too. But past performance is no guarantee of
future results. And it would be shortsighted to underes-
timate the challenges that lie ahead.
The Inconceivable Becomes Possible
The possibility that the euro zone could ever break up
was once considered inconceivable, for several reasons.
First, the economic cost of such an unraveling was just
too high. Moreover, the treaty creating the euro made no
A
S
W
ASHINGTON SCRAMBLES TO COPE WITH THE
ECONOMIC FALLOUT
,
IT MUST REASSESS
E
UROPE
S
RELIABILITY AS A STRATEGIC PARTNER
.
B
Y
B
RUCE
S
TOKES
Bruce Stokes is a senior trans-Atlantic fellow at the Ger-
man Marshall Fund of the United States.