The third of Germany's problems is that postwar security and the new Germany's identity were sought and found in ''Europe;'' and Europe today is faltering. Franz Josef Strauss, the former conservative Bavarian leader, said ''We must have patriotism in an entirely new understanding of the word.'' The fiasco experienced during the past year con- cerning the Maastricht program for accelerated European unification has clouded the political future of Europe. At the same time, the Yugoslav crisis has demonstrated European division and political weakness. Strauss said that ''Whoever wishes to be a German must see to it that he becomes a European while there is still time.'' Has the time run out?
All this has robbed Germans of the confidence they formerly possessed in a European solution to their national problem. An uncertainty about the future exists, of a kind which in the past has been a destructive force among Germans, and which causes concern among their neighbors today. To a degree they have not experienced since the 1940s, the Germans find themselves alone with disorienting problems, and are much criticized for what they are (or are not) doing about them. This upsets them, but it also upsets everyone else who recognizes that a Germany at peace with itself is indispensable to the peace of Europe, which also means the peace of the world.
William Pfaff is a syndicated columnist.