| Pax-Americana was the label given to the world of the 20th century. This is because the US, especially after World War II, dominated European and global politics despite the developing Cold War and its after affects.
In contrast to this, the 21st century, and indeed the third Millennium, is likely to be characterized as "Pax-Europeana" as Europe moves ahead with an enlargement policy sure to enhance it economically, further integrating it politically.
Europe is no longer the war-torn continent one remembers after 1945, the 1950s or even during the era of the "Iron-curtain" that divided between the capitalist west and the communist east. Now nearly the entire former east wants to join the west under the new umbrella of the European Union-Pax Europeana. The Baltic States, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and Hungary are all eager to become part of the expanding European entity.
They all want to become capitalists, changing worn out socialism for a new pair of shoes. But difficulty awaits. Instead of the socialist reality of individuals standing in line for bread or cheese, it is now nation-states in line in Brussels-the headquarters of the European Union-being told to wait, that their economic development is not at a level that would allow acceptance into the European Union. Their entry does not yet serve the rest of the countries on the continent.
As far as the old capitalistic Europeans are concerned to become a politically good European requires stages of development: Economics, and good, prudent, capitalist or social-market economics involving a free-market and a certain level of competitiveness must proceed the political aspects of integration and reintegration.
Political integration has its own criteria. At this transition stage, former east Europeans have to demonstrate their goodwill for political freedom, democracy and human rights-what westerners, would call liberal democracy.
Thus, top-level European bureaucrats indicate 13 countries, including Turkey, Malta and Cyprus, must wait to enter the European Union. It is stressed, however, the first decade of the 21st century will see these states fully integrated into a larger, more cohesive, political identity.
Many Europeans are saying privately their concept of unity can't exist merely as an economic colossus. Such largess must mean real teeth, real political power.
If this becomes the case, Europe will begin playing a greater political role in the international arena. Rather than acting as a subordinate to, say, the United States, there will come a point when it will compete with over influence and political governance in the world on nearly every level-including economic, cultural, civilizational.
This is, in fact, what Europe has been doing since at least the mid-1990s, widening its orbit of influence to countries south and east of the Mediterranean by establishing association agreements with countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon etc. Europe wants to eventually establish a free trade area between it and these countries. Its target date of 2010 would mean no tariffs between it and the rest of the Mediterranean nations. One has to wonder whether such a decision has been fully considered by the countries of the South, particularly the political implications of such a step as far as Europe is concerned.
Currently Europe is pouring money into the area, establishing joint projects not only in the Palestinian territories, but also in Jordan, Tunisia and soon Lebanon. People, or governments to be more precise, are happy to see this development, but one has to wonder: "What's in it for the Europeans?" The answer that keeps coming back is the strategic location to Arab countries. It is only natural for Europeans as this new-cemented bloc to be interested in furthering relations with its neighbors on geographical, historical and political grounds.
Where does the US fit in all this? That's another matter entirely. Europe is looking after its own interests, emphasizing the fact many of these countries belong to international economic organizations like the World Trade Organization, of which Europe is a part.