Located in Europe’s geographic and economic heartland, Germany has been the prize of the European power struggle for centuries. During his Monday evening Bradley Lecture, Brendan Simms, Cambridge historian and author of “Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, from 1453 to the Present,” provided a sweeping review of European political history, describing Germany as the linchpin of the continental balance of power.
Even today, Simms said, Germany is the preeminent power within the European Union (EU), which Germany has imbued with aspects of its political culture. But that same influence has rendered the EU weak and divided, unable to confront the internal challenges of the sovereign debt crisis, economic stagnation, poor competitiveness, and nationalist fragmentation. Even more dangerous, according to Simms, is other European powers’ resentment of Germany — a resentment that is to a degree Europe has not seen for decades.
Simms argued that the solution for the EU lies in the adoption of an Anglo American political structure — one with pooled debt, a balanced budget, and a common military that can effectively partner with the United States to confront economic and security threats. Citing the invasion and annexation of Crimea by Moscow, Simms stressed that continued Russian aggression in Europe’s periphery could be the impetus for the structural change that would strengthen and unify Europe.
In his book “Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, from 1453 to the Present” (Basic Books, 2013), historian Brendan Simms argues that the struggle for the German heartland shaped the modern world. Today, with the European Union struggling to advance its interests, Germany continues to be an organizing principle in world geopolitics.
In this Bradley Lecture, Simms will explore Berlin’s role as a decisive player in both the ongoing eurozone crisis and Russian aggression in the former Eastern Bloc. He will also describe the Anglo American model of political union as the model Europe must adopt if it wishes to surmount the grave fiscal and military challenges it faces today.
If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.
Thomas Donnelly, AEI
Brendan Simms, University of Cambridge
Adjournment and Reception
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Thomas Donnelly is a defense and security policy analyst and codirector of the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at AEI. He is the coauthor, with Frederick W. Kagan, of “Lessons for a Long War: How America Can Win on New Battlefields” (AEI Press, 2010). Among his recent books are “Ground Truth: The Future of U.S. Land Power” (AEI Press, 2008), also coauthored with Frederick W. Kagan; “Of Men and Materiel: The Crisis in Military Resources” (AEI Press, 2007), coedited with Gary J. Schmitt; “The Military We Need” (AEI Press, 2005); and “Operation Iraqi Freedom: A Strategic Assessment” (AEI Press, 2004). From 1995 to 1999, he was policy group director and a professional staff member for the US House of Representatives Committee on Armed Services. Donnelly also served as a member of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission. He is a former editor of Armed Forces Journal, Army Times, and Defense News.
Brendan Simms is a Peterhouse fellow and professor of history at the University of Cambridge’s Centre of International Studies. He has been involved in policy work at the Bow Group, Foreign Policy Centre, British-Irish Association, and Bosnian Institute. He is copresident of the Henry Jackson Society and president of the Project for Democratic Union. In addition to lecturing in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbia on various aspects of the Bosnian War, Simms has written numerous articles and reviews for The Times, The Observer, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Spectator, The Independent, London Evening Standard, The Wall Street Journal, and The London Review of Books. He is the author of five books including “The Impact of Napoleon” (Cambridge University Press, 1997), “The Struggle for Mastery in Germany” (Palgrave Macmillan, 1998), “Three Victories and a Defeat” (Basic Books, 2007), and “Europe: The Struggle for Supremacy, from 1453 to the Present” (Basic Books, 2013).