Europe and the unthinkable

Roger Cohen writes: The foundations of the postwar world born from the rubble of Berlin are trembling. The old is dying, the new too inchoate to decipher. The politics of America mystify the world.

From Germany’s “zero hour” in 1945 there emerged in due course two institutions — NATO and the European Union — that together ushered Germany from its shame and Europe from its repetitive self-immolation. They cemented the United States as a European power. They fashioned European security and prosperity through unity.

Now NATO and the E.U. are questioned, even ridiculed. Forces of disintegration are on the march.

In less than two weeks, Britain will vote on whether to quit the Union. The referendum is too close to call. I believe that reason will prevail over derangement — at least one leader of the “Brexit” campaign has contemptibly compared the Union’s designs to Hitler’s — and that Britain will remain where it belongs: in Europe. But the scale of the disaster if Britain votes to leave should not be underestimated. It might mark the beginning of the end of the European Union. A political “bank run,” in the phrase of the political scientist Ivan Krastev, could ensue. [Continue reading…]

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