THE SPINE AUGUST 7, 2008
That's what it was called during the First World War. Despite the fact that its neutrality had been guaranteed by the European powers, Germany invaded the country, captured it and occupied it, leaving blood soaked turf of perhaps 100,000 men and women.Now Belgium is prosperous, even more prosperous than Germany. But it is not a nation, hardly even a country. There's a revealing article in Monday's Times about the impending dissolution of the entity. Of course, it has been dissolving for years and maybe its currency will still work in both parts of the country. But the conflict between the Francophones and the Flemish is now very deep and very bitter, exacerbated by class, as always happens, but also by a widening cultural rift.Europe is the great abstraction here. As it is many other countries, even those who have been moved by stupor to vote for the E.U. By stupor and its companion, non-comprehension.All of over Europe there are fissiparous tendencies. The Union will neither disguise them nor disarm them.