An old saying in Rome has it that the favorite candidate always enters the conclave as the next pope but exits as a mere cardinal. Matteo Renzi, Italy's maverick prime minister, is Europe's man of the hour; but the six-month rotating EU presidency which Italy kicked off earlier this month may leave him severely diminished, unless he fulfills the promise of his leadership with tangible results.
The United States should use the 300 soldiers who are on their way to Iraq to stiffen its allies spines and to generate collective action to fight the forces of evil now set loose in the Middle East. America can help with this endeavor, but the heavy lifting must be the responsibility of America's Middle East Allies.
When, in 2003, some 78 percent of Czechs voted in in favor of joining the European Union, the mood in the country was optimistic. The country's economy had shown impressive growth rates; foreign investment had been booming. Joining the EU on May 1, 2004, was seen as a symbolic step underlining successful reforms that had been adopted during the process of accession. On the 10th anniversary of accession, the mood is far less optimistic. According to the latest surveys, about two-thirds of Czechs do not trust the EU, citing too much bureaucracy and overregulation as the main problems of the EU.
The EU must think carefully about where it goes from here, how it reconnects with its citizens' concerns, and how it can better realize its ideals in a changing world. Complacency about the far right's showing, on the grounds that there remains a pro-European majority, is dangerous. Even ardent supporters of Europe think there must be change. In an increasingly multipolar world, in which GDP and population will increasingly be correlated, the rationale for Europe is stronger than ever. Together, Europe's peoples can wield genuine influence. Alone, they will over time decline in relative importance. The 21st century world order will be dramatically different from that of the 20th century. The rationale for Europe today is not peace; it is power.