Gongol.com Archives: June 2024

Brian Gongol

June 28, 2024

The European Union is on the verge of selecting Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas as its new High Representative for Foreign Affairs, a role whose closest American counterpart is the Secretary of State. It's a major office even in ordinary times, and these times are not ordinary. ■ Lots of news coverage defaults to calling Prime Minister Kallas a "hard-liner", but that phrase ought to come under further scrutiny. First and foremost, compared to what? ■ She leads a small country with a transformative modern history, with a large and obviously belligerent neighbor literally across the fence. What alternative is there? Estonia has about 1.2 million people (fewer people than Maine), and a little less land area than West Virginia. Russia is bigger by orders of magnitude. ■ Instead of "hard-liner", it seems like "steadfast and serious" is a better description. She lived under Soviet occupation, so clarity about standing with strength against her troublesome neighbor is a virtue, not a vice. ■ Based on her record and rhetorical history, this looks like one of the best moves the EU has made in recent memory. It has begun looking at absorbing Ukraine into its membership, and only a firm stance in defense of every frontier will suffice. Perjoratives like "hard-liner" may be easy to grasp, but they run the risk of implying that a softer alternative is available or even preferable.