European Unification "The Trouble Is Thesis

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Germany was punished, rather than rehabilitated. Historic grievances still existed between many of the prevailing European powers, such as France and Germany. After World War I, the United States retreated to isolationism and did not provide either strength or a mediating force upon the warring European powers. During World War II, Europe was divided by war and the only unity that existed, such as the alliance between England, the U.S., and Russia, were based upon expediency, not upon shared values that could continue in a time of peace.

Ash's essay was written in 1996, when much of Europe was still in disarray after the breakdown of the Soviet empire. One wonders if he would still agree with his contention: "no continent is externally more ill-defined, internally more diverse, or historically more disorderly. Yet no continent has produced more schemes for its own orderly unification" (Ash 2). Ash has a point when he notes that post-1945 Europe unity was 'helped' when the Cold War was "cutting off most of Central and Eastern Europe behind the iron curtain.
This meant that European integration could begin between a relatively small number of nation-states, bourgeois democracies at a roughly comparable economic level, and with important older elements of common history" (Ash 2). However, one could argue that many regions of the world today are just as Balkanized, including the Middle East and Africa -- Europe is no 'special case,' although one could argue that it is working especially diligently to create a common economic culture in the name of peace, even if this requires a sacrifice of some national identity. Through monetary and economic union, Ash sees hope -- globalization means that all nations of the world are more economically dependant upon one another, although some of the European unity fostered in prosperity may be breaking down in the face of the current economic crisis.

Works Cited

Ash, Timothy Garton. "Is Europe Becoming Europe?" Sanford S. Elberg Lecture. 1996.

April 16, 2009.

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