Thursday, November 26, 2009

Al Jazeera English "Empire" Takes on Europe

Is Europe the new superpower? That hasn't been the conventional wisdom in the face of American military preeminence and the fast-rising economies of the BRIC states. But my friend Marwan Bishara takes a closer look on his program, "Empire," this month:






Europe has finally adopted a new treaty to strengthen its union, and
chosen a president and foreign minister to speak with one voice for
the continent.

Twenty-seven countries, with more than 500 million people, a combined
economy bigger than the US and almost two million soldiers under arms,
the European Union is to all intents and purposes, a superpower.

However, Europeans remain divided on central issues. Its cheerleaders,
and foremost the dominating Franco German alliance, are celebrating
the supranational Union they expect to lead globally, just as its
detractors warn of a giant leap toward a federalist Europe that looks
to compromise their national sovereignties and weakens their
democracies.

Despite inner wrangling, a prosperous and stable Europe has become a
magnet for neighbouring countries that are being rebuffed by the most
powerful members of the union.

This raises questions about what constitutes a unified European identity.
In the spirit of multicultural diversity and openness, Europe has
recognised its 15 million Muslim citizens, launched the
Euro-Mediterranean process and accepted the accession candidacy of its
largest Muslim neighbour, Turkey.
Recently however, Europe has been backpedalling on its overtures and
promises, erecting immigration barriers and buffer zones with their
less prosperous neighbours, dampening Ankara's chances of joining the
Union, and raising allegations from some quarters that Europe is
essentially a Christian club.

Will 27 nations be able to pull together as one and become a dominant
power in the 21st century? Will they be dominated by the Franco-German
axis, or will they pull themselves apart as each individual country
tries to assert its own national interest before that of the
collective good?

This month's guests:

Timothy Garton Ash
European Studies, Oxford University

Tariq Ramadan
President, European Muslim Network

Slavoj Zizek
Slovenian Philosopher
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