David Cameron's favorite toy while attending European Union summit meetings is his BlackBerry. He glances at it constantly, almost as though he thinks it can provide him with guidance. Unfortunately, it cannot.
EU heads of state and government are gathering in Brussels this Thursday for talks on the 27-nation club's next budget, set to cover the years from 2014 to 2020. And Cameron, the British prime minister, has threatened to torpedo negotiations if the 1 trillion spending plan submitted by the European Commission isn't drastically cut.
His unequivocal warning is the product of more than just diplomatic ineptitude. Cameron simply doesn't know what he wants from Europe and lacks a strategy. Nor does he have any idea how Great Britain will be situated within the European Union in two, three or five years down the line. Will the country remain on the cusp as it is now? Will London take additional steps outside of the fold? Anything is possible, and Britain's erratic position is increasingly becoming an annoyance for the UK's partners on the other side of the Channel.
Cameron's inability to steer the debate in London over the EU shows just how weak the prime minister has become within his own party. And that is good news only for those Britons who want to see their country withdraw from the EU, a category which includes a majority of Cameron's party allies.
Indeed, the more integrated the European club becomes on the Continent, the more Great Britain feels like a gentleman in a swinger club. It's not that the British hate the European Union. But they fear the inevitability with which the Brussels beast is mutating into a monster, and they fear being eaten by that monster.
Cameron is doing nothing to combat those fears. And his strategy of inaction could very well lead to a situation in which the UK stumbles out of the EU accidentally. Britain's ongoing assessment of EU integration in the search for elements it would rather do without is both undignified and dangerous. The rest of the club should refuse to play London's game.
Europe lives from the passion of its members and from their willingness to accept responsibility and obligation. Radical egotists who are only half-heartedly engaged have the ability to destroy the entire project.