The European Superpower

In This Review

The European Superpower

By John McCormick
Palgrave Macmillan, 2006
256 pp. $85.00

As its title implies, this book does more than reject the oft-heard charge that Europe is in economic, military, and demographic decline. McCormick argues that the European Union is nothing less than "a superpower -- the new pole in a post-modern bipolar international order." He claims not that the EU has developed the political unity or military power to rival the United States but rather that the post-Cold War world requires a new understanding of what power is. The age of the military superpower is over, and "influence in the era of globalization is best achieved by the use of diplomacy, the provision of economic opportunity and political incentives, and the exercise of soft power -- all qualities that the EU has become adept at employing." McCormick makes an original, provocative, and well-informed case -- but could be accused of overselling it. He notes that the United States has "long-term domestic economic problems" and "internal social and political divisions" while ignoring similar problems within the EU. He rightly points to Washington's limited ability to influence others with military force but seems confident of the EU's ability to do so merely through force of example.

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