The gap between the European Union's pretensions and capacities has never looked so wide. Its stagnant economy and the crisis in Ukraine point to gross failures of leadership. In both cases, Europe's de facto leader — Germany — is especially to blame.

Is that unfair? You could argue that these blows to Europe's prosperity and security have come from outside — that the global recession started in the U.S. and the conflict in Ukraine is all Russian President Vladimir Putin's fault. You'd be letting Europe's leaders off too lightly.

The EU's current economic policy is indefensible: The EU has chosen to extend the recession by rejecting available remedies. As far as its foreign and security policy goes, this can barely be said to exist. Europe didn't make Putin the ruthless outlaw he is, but it provoked him while knowing it was unwilling or unable to deal with the consequences.