Europe is surrounded by a ring of instability. With conflicts festering from Ukraine to Iraq to Libya, the perennially elusive question is what Europe stands for. How do its values, interests, and ambitions fit into an increasingly unruly world? The nomination of the new European foreign policy chief last weekend looks like yet another missed opportunity to provide an answer.
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.