A Wise Voice From Italy

I look at the website of In theNational Interest from time to time. There is usually something good on there, and I commend it to your attention.

I recently noticed this interesting review of a book called The Inevitable Alliance: Europe and the United States Beyond Iraq, by Vittorio Parsi. Since it is in Italian, I’m not likely to ever read it. Parsi is yet another person who notes that the international system based upon state sovereignty which originated in the treaty of Westphalia is disintegrating. This is often taken to be a good thing by liberals, who hope to see an over-arching, supra-national world order emerge. However, the reviewer summarizes Parsi’s view as focusing not on some new superstate emerging. Rather, “…the emergence of failed and other rogue states as well as the menace of non-state terrorism—the latter being essentially a return to the privatized violence that marred pre-modern times.” Parsi notes that it is the supposedly unsophisticated United States, not Europe, which has “avant-garde grasp of the ‘new world disorder’”.

Parsi makes much of the distinction between the “peace of equilibrium” (pace d’equilibrio) and the “hegemonic peace” (pace egemonica). The former presupposes that, in the absence of an overarching power in the international arena, the security of nation-states—in fact, their very survival—depends on their relative strengths, the balance between which becomes the condition sine qua non for peace and stability. The latter is the case when “respect for order, stability, and peace are guaranteed by the resources of the hegemon, resources that go beyond military power to encompass access to markets, technological sophistication, and financial means”—pretty much the role that Jean-François Revel, among others, has ascribed to the U.S.

Parsi argues that it is futile to try to seek a balance of power equilibrium against the United States, which is a truly hegemonic power, and even asserts that American hegemony is preferable to the “balance of terror” which prevailed during the Cold War. Therefore, rather than futile resistance to this power disparity, Europe must avoid isolationism as it expands to the East, and it must avoid allowing itself to become detached from the United States. Parsi sees leading roles being taken by Spain, Poland and Italy in preserving the ties between the United States and Europe. Parsi concludes that “[a]s long as America is the only one bearing the burden, any discussion of greater multilateralism risks being a mere rhetorical exercise.”

Parsi sounds like a solid thinker. Perhaps there will be a translation of the book.

1 thought on “A Wise Voice From Italy”

  1. Regarding the comment about the new world disorder, I am thankful that there are clear-eyed realists in the Federal government who are trying their best to deal with current events and discerning future threats. The downside is that we probably will never have enough of these people in the DoD, Justice and Treasury departments. I am not sure that there are any in the State department, other than a few political appointees. So far, we have been lucky and good with respect to a repeat of 09/11 in some form or another. The pessimist in me just knows that we will suffer a terrible attack in the near future and it will become a political football by opportunists who have done nothing to help our country protect itself in any substantive manner. As a conservative Democrat, I am very angry about the ravings of the Congressional members of the Socialist Labor party that comfort and encourage the islamist enemy on a daily basis. I am hoping for a voting box purge of the Chamberlain appeasers in November 2004. This is not to say that no dissent is permissible; rather we need serious debate on the best ways to prosecute this long-term war over the next 20 to 30 years with as little damage to our ideals as possible.

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