Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Belgium: Europe's canary in a coal mine?

You probably don't realize it, but we are living in an unprecedented historical moment. For the first time, Belgium has managed to be interesting without getting invaded by Germany or abusing an African colony. What's so interesting? In short: Belgium is coming apart at the seams.
One is tempted to joke that it's an Iraq with better weather and waffles. But it isn't a mini-Iraq, and not just because they're not killing one another. It's more like a mini-European Union. In fact, that's the one thing everyone can agree on. No country is more invested in the EU experiment than Belgium, whose capital, Brussels, is also the capital of the EU. If Belgium falls to sectarianism, what does that say about prospects for making Europe into a super-Belgium?

But what I really like about the Belgian crisis is that it puts a dent in the myth that Europe represents some enlightened new model exportable to the rest of the globe. After World War II and the Holocaust, a generation of diplomats and intellectuals predicted that nationality, religion and culture would matter less in the New Europe. But wishing didn't make it so. Read Los Angeles Times

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