The post I wrote yesterday was entitled “Hope for the Future”. In the post, I stated my opinion that the European Union might not survive.
Fellow Chicago Boy Ralf Goergens left a comment….
“…why did you call the post ‘hope for the future’ when you are predicting the end of the EU? Surely you know that this would be a very bad thing, including the United States?”
If the only purpose for the EU was to increase trade between the member nations and allow them to compete more effectively in the global markets, then I’d have no problem. I also wouldn’t mind if they pooled defense assets and formed something that would be effective. Both developments would actually help the US, since healthy competition is good for business and having an effective military means that the US wouldn’t have to keep paying good money to protect those freeloaders any more.
At least I wouldn’t have a problem if they went about it in the right way, and if they confined themselves to their stated goals.
So far as the EU’s relationship with the US is concerned, I think that it’s rather obvious that our differences run much deeper than simple friendly competition. The movers and shakers in Europe think that the only way they can rise above the appalling state of affairs that they find themselves in (lack of influence, eroding culture, shrinking economies) is by hamstringing the United States. This essay by Steven pretty much outlines my own point of view.
Anyone who’s been reading my posts here know that I’m not a fan of the United Nations, and the reason why is that they don’t perform their stated function. They increase human misery and encourage the violation of human rights, and this happens because there’s no accountability. Unelected officials, with no consequences for criminal behavior, means that corruption will become rampant. It’s gotten so bad that I don’t see any other reasonable course of action except for the US to leave the UN in disgust.
Looks to me that the EU is gleefully tripping down that same path.
Is there anything to the claim that the EU is a potential threat to the US? Well, yes and no. As long as they’re dedicated to Socialism and opposed to the idea of true democracy, then they’re certainly not going to be our buddies. But as long as they’re dedicated to Socialism and opposed to true democracy, they’re not going to be able to keep up with the US in any meaningful way. Plundering the defense budget and hobbling business with crippling taxes in order to fund social welfare programs is a recipe for insignificance, after all.
I agree with Ralf that the dissolution of the EU would be bad for the US in a variety of ways. America is a major part of the global economy, and if the EU comes apart there’s going to be a depression that will certainly effect the US economy.
But if the EU comes apart, the governments of Europe might actually be inspired to get their act together and become effective. That would not only result in something that might provide some competition, but it would eliminate a system devoted to ideals that I find repugnant.
Yeah, I know. That’s like something out of a science fiction novel. The Eurocrats give up Socialism and unelected elitist rule in favor of a free market and democracy? That’s about as likely as the claims that Europe will be able to beat the US in space exploration!
31 thoughts on “Difference of Opinion”
I haven’t taken Int’l. Trade Theory yet, but why would the collapse of the EU lead to a depression?
Wouldn’t the individual nation states get their stuff back?
“…why would the collapse of the EU lead to a depression? Wouldn’t the individual nation states get their stuff back?”
Sure, they’d get their own stuff back, and they wouldn’t have the costs of supporting the bloated EU bureaucracy to worry about any more.
But the countries which join the EU give up their own currency in favor of the Euro. What happens if the EU Central Bank fails, and the currency suddenly becomes worthless?
I doubt that the Euro will suddenly become worthless. However, it’s an open question whether the European Central Bank will follow consistent policies over the long term. Given the obvious disparities in political and economic interests between the EU member states, and given that ECB policy is the only thing that maintains the Euro’s value, it seems likely that the Euro will eventually experience instability. (The value of the US dollar, like that of the Euro, is based on central-bank fiat. However, our Fed already has an OK record of long-term policy stability, and unlike the ECB the Fed doesn’t have to accommodate the conflicting interests of multiple national governments.) So I wouldn’t hesitate to hold Euros or use them in business, but I think the Euro’s value is likely to fall in the long run.
Would the demise of the EU be a bad thing for the US? It depends on what’s happening at the time of its demise. If the EU is crashing because the major members refuse to reform their fiscal structures (epecially the overpromised benefits/pensions schemes) and the ECB chooses to print euros to cover the benefit claims, then the sooner it crashes the better. If the EU reforms itself in time (every year, this gets harder and less likely) then it won’t crash. The Euro is likely to collapse by individual member states withdrawing from the system and re-issuing their own national crrencies. Ireland will probably be one of the first to do this, since their economic cycle is so out of synch with the Continent’s.
Similarly, the EU will probably start seeing individual member-states withdraw within the next five ior twn years — the UK probably first, then Denmark or Sweden. If the UK and Ireland go, then that will insulate 50% of the US’s exposure in Europe.
I cannot recommend EU Referendum enough.
2 recent postings, one on the EU selling weapons to the Chicoms and the other when they finally admitted they want to dissolve nation-states.
Fine by me, but 1 state, 1 vision, 1 voice, 1 seat in the UN if it still exists.
I just don’t think it’s going to work, Ralf. You have to be able to toss the bums out and you can’t.
The importance of acting now to reform the EU now is precisely because the longer it goes on, the worse its effects on the rest of the world are likely to be.
One “bad” channel would be if the Euro replaced the dollar as reserve currency (thereby causing and inflation problem in the US) which was then followed by the colapse of the Euro due to, say benefit debt burdens. The Euro ceases to be an international currency and the whole system breaks down.
Another would be the 30’s scenario where EU break down leads to military aggression, which given the current state of politic animus in the Eu would probably be directed at either Israel or the US. And its worth remembering that 2 of the EU memebers are nuclear and the rest have the reactors and knowhow to go nuclear very quickly if they wanted to.
The EU isn’t a done deal yet, it’s maybe 60% of a done deal. If the UK enters fully it’ll be maybe 90% of a done deal. OTOH, withdrawal by a secondary country would be widely interpreted as confirmation of a trend change, and thus probably would have disproportionate negative impact on EU solidity. UK withdrawal would be a huge shock. Current appearances of EU stability are thus an illusion. The EU could go either way, but I think time does not favor it.
The difference between the Euro and the Dollar is the Euro is not backed by a government and the Dollar is.
Secondly, would you really want to share your bank account your second cousins feckless neighbour?The auditors have refused to sign off the EU accounts for the seventh year running.
Thirdly, the EU was never designed to be democratic,it was constructed on the principle that the people could not be trusted.
Fourthly it breaks the golden rule off business never go into partnership.
There is an interesting post at “http://www.eurabiantimes.com/archives/2005/01/eurabia_a_clari_1.php” regarding why the EU consistently takes an anti-american stance on most every policy it makes. The Euro leadership made a mad wager many years ago in favor of the arab muslim world at the expense of Israel and the US. Arab governments are holding their breaths hoping the joint wager pays off for them soon. If the US democratizes too many more muslim nations the entire world geopolitics will change.
It appears France, Germany and others long for an “umbrella” government, a Mother Hen, if you like. Like all blurring of national jurisdictions, this transnationalism serves one purpose: it absolves the individual republics’ politicians of their accountabilities for their own local governments’ failures.
The currently conceived E.U. allows a Jospin, Chirac, or Schroeder to blame their inability to confront their cloying labor unions on external forces: Greece’s grape harvest, Spain’s budget deficit (as a percentage of GDP), or Poland’s low wages.
Great link, Bill. Eurabiantimes has it just right. And, meanwhile back at the “reality-based” ranch, Germany’s Social Democrats are whinging about Russian Jewish immigration?
But they keep on asking us to vote for them and never turn down the money.
“Germany and others long for an “umbrella” government”
More than that they are still so ashamed of their wr past that they will do anything to attone for it – including aboloshing their own government.
Thanks for the reply, James.
Btw, I strongly disagree with almost anything said here, including the comments, but I won’t be able to reply today. I hope to find the time in the next days.
There is something about these comments that reminds me…ever since the late 70s (as long as I can remember) people here in Germany told me that the US was finished. You know the prejudices: they only manufacture crap, their education is awful, the country is driven apart by racism and injustice, ruined by military spending, crime, drugs, greed, etc.
Many things were used as “proof”, from Vietnam to Reagan´s economic policies (which were considered disastrous) to the Rodney King riots in LA.
The United States happily endured. But now some of your comments remind me of just that sort of uninformed talk.
Make no mistake: The problems are real. My friends call me a pessimist. I am disgusted by many EU policies. I belong to the generation that´s paying the price for the damage we did to our economy over the last decades. I passionately hate our foreign policy, and quite a few other things about this country. But the end of Europe?? Eurabia?? I know the arguments, but some of you simply do not have a sense of proportion.
Nobody is talking about wolves running though the streets of Paris. We’re talking about the EU’s inability to halt Europe’s long slide to 3rd tier status. The slide began after WWII and continues to this day.
The EU was originally advertised as means of turning Europe into a virtual state that rival the U.S. in economics, military power and diplomatic influence. The EU was supposed to make Europe the place “where all the action was” to return Europe to the center stage of world affairs. It was supposed to reverse the slide.
It shows little promise of doing so.
I was going to reply to werner, but Shannon beat me to it.
I don’t know enough to even make an educated guess, but the fact that the books can’t be audited doesn’t encourage optimism.
Europe isn’t sliding down to 3d tier status. As it happens, only Feance and Germany are currently suffering from what is called ‘Eurosclerosis’, and they are forced towards corrections of their behavior, kicking and screaming all the way.
I have to say I side with Ralf and Werner on this one. There is still enough democratic accountability at the national level in Europe to stop the madness. Werner is right in saying that the EU, just like the US, can change direction when it looks like the strategy isn’t working. I just hope that they will do so soon. Europe has a bad history of following grand theories right over a cliff. The Anglo-Saxon tradition, shared with the Dutch and some others, is to ignore a theory that has wandered away from the world of facts.
That said, the EU has to come up with some sort of “weak-form” federalism. It is nonsense to have a one-size-fits-all monetary policy for a set of unintegrated economies. This is especially true when some members will face major budget problems from either fixing their welfare systems or enduring the consequences of failing to do so. The Euro will revert back to national currencies at some point. Even if Britain signs on (doubtful), one of the large states will withdraw because of some combination of fiscal and monetary problems. The democracy deficit in Brussels will provide political cover.
The EU is the last hope of the dirigistes. Maybe they will finally be discredited when their project fails. Let the people work it out themselves.
The EU as a cohesive superstate is impractical simply because there is no European demos.
The overwhelming majority of the populations of all the EU members think of themselves as primarily German, or British, or Italian or (especially) French, NOT European (dunno about Belgians, though).
That is why the EU as such cannot be a truly powerful international actor. It cannot wield the national loyalties an effective single military requires.
It might be an effective alliance; but only if the French were willing to stop defining a European alliance as “everybody else does what Paris decides, thank you kindly”.
The same problem emerges with currency unification; without the national-type solidarity required for the tax transfers, common accounts, and tolerance of political pain inherent in economically diverse regions using a common currency, the project becomes very difficult.
Not impossible, perhaps; maybe someday a sucessor to the the pre-WW1 gold standard can be restored.
But I don’t rate the the current euro-system as likely to succeed in the medium term, as things stand.
Personally, I would rate the chances of the new EU constitution passing as very poor. Once it fails, we may have the chance to reconsider the appropriate basis of European institutions, and hopefully return to the core area of trade and commerce, and voluntary interstate cooperation.
On that basis, I have no complaints about the “undemocratic” nature of the EU, per se. I would prefer to see it more undemocratic: the power should rest strictly with the Council as representatives of the state governments (thats where democracy coperates) with restored veto power in almost all fields, the Commission operating as a secretariat and stricly limited administrative agency, and the Assembly either abolished or returned to delegations of national parliaments.
That’s the sort of Europe that can work, and provide the benfits that the people of Europe want: economic prosperity and friendly, cooperating nations.
“There is still enough democratic accountability at the national level in Europe to stop the madness”
Man, I hope so but (1) their track record in my opinion is not good and (2) events happen much faster now than they did in the past. Political and economic flexibility are absolutely vital and it is precisely this flexibility that the EU attacks. The EU could find itself marginalized in less than a decade.
I don’t see Europe really grappling with this problem. Granted, I am viewing the matter from a far remove, yet Europe seems to be engaged in the same state of denial that Japan followed throughout 90’s while it staggered through a nearly 10 year long recession. A similar episode in Europe would permanently cripple them.
“The EU as a cohesive superstate is impractical simply because there is no European demos. The overwhelming majority of the populations of all the EU members think of themselves as primarily German, or British, or Italian or (especially) French, NOT European”
Actually, this is the state of affairs that governed America up until the Civil War. Prior to the Civil War, it was common to use the phrase “United States” as a plural. People wrote “The United States ARE going to do something” not “The United States IS going to do something”.
Prior to the founding of the United States, the word “State” had no connotations of being a sub-unit of a larger entity. It meant “sovereign nation.” Were America being named in modern parlance we would call it “The United Nations of America” or maybe even “The American Union” ( a phrase actually employed especially during the Civil War).
What the Europeans lack is time American federalism worked not because people emotionally identified with Federal government over their state governments but rather because the Federal government was small and insignificant to most peoples lives. The Federal grew in significance and emotional identification over many decades. The Europeans don’t have that much time.
Shannon’s point about America is good & one we sometimes forget. Still, time is the big deal – time to compromise and heal. We can hardly hope for a bloody European civil war down the line to unite them. We had a common language, a similar if not common culture. And we had Lincoln (and Lee and Grant). We did not have intense old enmities of the kind Europe does that a Civil War or even strains over budgets, etc. might touch off. Oh, well, any parallels always ignore variables.
A couple of observations from ‘the belly of the beast’. First, I have to agree with Ralf and Werner in one respect. The future of the EU cannot be determined merely by projecting current trends out indefinately. Clearly, the current situation is unsustainable, meaning eventually, something will snap. The question is; what, and how bad will it get before it does?
In my opinion, acceptance of the EU Constitution is the key question. If it fails, the EU will be forced to truly address the situation and, hopefully, come up with something that actually works. If it passes however, Europe is well and truly screwed. On the one hand, people here are perfectly aware that the EU is flawed. Its ridiculous edicts touch every aspect of life and are impossible to ignore. On the other hand, their apathy and ignorance on the subject is appalling. (this is not a slur on the people themselves, their ignorance is largely enforced by the government and media) For instance, I saw a poll on the Constitution in the news just today where 45% of Europeans would approve it, 40% disapprove and 15% no opinion. Yet, in the same poll, 60% confess to not knowing anything about it’s contents.
This is not an unusual situation in matters of public policy. Debates are carried out by the elites far above the heads of the electorate, a consensus is reached, and policies implemented, with barely a nod to the people themselves. Indeed, the present EU structures suit the elites quite fine, since they can wash their hands of any unpopular course and point the finger at Brussels.
As far as national democratic accountancy, I have to laugh. The situation here in Finland is a particularly transparent example of the lack thereof. We have 5 major parties, ranging from the Left Alliance (exactly what it sounds like) to the Christian Democrats (nothing christian about them, vaguely pro-business Social Democrats). All of them heavily invested both in the welfare state and the EU. In fact, you could not slip a piece of paper between their policy differences. Combine this with a proportional representation system which seems to be designed to prevent any one party from exceeding 25% of the vote and effectively obscures any responsibility for any particular policy and you don’t have a recipe for governmental accountability. The occasional elections result in nothing more than minor shuffling in the cabinet posts with no change in actual policy. The government, abetted by the media, goes on doing whatever it likes, as long as it avoids anything too outrageous.
4 of the parties support the constitution. The Left Alliance (or the Greens, I forget which, not that it matters) is opposed only because it does not go far enough. Needless to say, the government has decided that a referendum is not needed. The people themselves, perfectly aware of their own impotence, shrug and go about their business. They see the EU as merely an extension of the elites who already run their lives. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
Considering the ambitions of the EU, this situation cannot last forever. How it turns out is anybody’s guess. Past history and present attitudes would indicate that there will be no large course correction until a crisis is reached, and it will probably not be pleasant. But that is only my opinion.
Interesting times, indeed.
I am somewhat amused by the assertions that the death of the EU and the Euro is imminent and/or inevitable. The demise of the EU, and its previous incarnations (the ECSC/EEC/Euratom, the European Communities) has been predicted many times. Nevertheless, the EU has been around in different shapes and forms for almost 54 years now.
A little history update (mostly remembered from studying the European Union in Great Britain in the 1990s): when the European Coal and Steel Community (out of which the EU has evolved) was founded in 1952, the goal was not to rival the United States, but rather to integrate those parts of the French and German economies (Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands were also founding members) that were crucial for any war, coal and steel. The idea was that if France and Germany pooled their sovereignty over those industries, it would make it much harder for them to wage war against each other. This is the founding idea of what was later evolve into the EU: to prevent the frequent warfare that had kept the continent in frequent turmoil during the preceding centuries. It would be hard to argue that this goal was not achieved, (and this may also help explain why Germany and France are especially invested in the idea of a continuously deepening integration). Along the way, the member states recognized that since they conduct most of their trade with one another, it would make sense to remove restrictions to trade (customs, tariffs, etc.). This led to the European Economic Community and eventually, in 1992, to the Single Market. Along the way, many countries have joined up, which suggests that there may be some benefits to membership…
As for the Euro, the end of national currencies can also be seen as the removal of obstacles to free trade. The unpredictability of exchange rates placed enormous financial burdens on businesses and the economy of member states. Efforts to reduce this burden have been around since 1979 with the inception of the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) that was supposed to help keep the rate within certain margins. George Soros made a heap of money by betting massively against the overvalued Pound Sterling, forcing it out of the ERM in 1992.
The Economic and Monetary Union started in 1999 when the exchange rates of the currencies participating in the Euro were locked in. The actual Euro bills and coins then became available in 2001, two years later.
It is hard to miss that the economies and fiscal policies of the Eurozone member states are developing by no means uniformly. But to assume that such a strain would eventually lead to the break-up of the currency seems unreasonable. The economies of the United States are also rather divergent, but nobody would suggest that the fact that Delaware’s per capita GDP is amost twice that of West Virginia is about to doom the Dollar. (I know this comparison doesn’t work completely, but you catch my drift).
But back to the EU: I am of course not suggesting that there aren’t great problems with the European Union’s internal accountability and transparency (referred to as the “democratic deficit” by scholars of the EU), decision-making process, bureaucracy, and then a few more. But the EU and its various predecessors have always managed to pull through. It has even helped the EU evolve: problems within the system of governance could only be resolved by further integration and coordination of and between the member states (this phenomenon has also been labeled “spill-over effect”).
Obviously, the large number of member states will make reforms in the decision-making structure – among other things – of the Union inevitable. And of course, it is entirely possible that in the future not all of the numerous member states will want to continue traveling to the path of an “ever-closer union” that has long been the creed of the integrationists. And not even the failure of referenda on the EU constitution in some member states would spell doom for the EU. Some of the member states could then decide to go ahead with deeper integration anyway, the result of which would be a “Europe of different speeds” or “Europe à la carte,” ideas that have been around for decades. So I’m afraid that things aren’t looking good for those who were hoping to witness a collapse of the Euro and a disintegration of the EU. To paraphrase Mark Twain: rumors of the EU’s death are greatly exaggerated.
P.S. Wikipedia has a rather comprehensive entry on the European Union if you want to learn a bit more about the EU’s history.
“…coal and steel. The idea was that if France and Germany pooled their sovereignty over those industries, it would make it much harder for them to wage war against each other. This is the founding idea of what was later evolve into the EU: to prevent the frequent warfare that had kept the continent in frequent turmoil during the preceding centuries. It would be hard to argue that this goal was not achieved,…”
Oh, that goal was realized. However, placing the credit on a coal and steel conglomerate is more than a little……let’s just say “bizarre” and let it go at that.
There were, you know, US troops crawling all over Germany. (Some of them still loiter around in spots near some major military bases built by the Americans. Next time you’re in-country, take a day trip and see for yourself.) The Germans, warlike as they are, weren’t completely crazy enough to try and rearm while the Americans had a bayonet to their throat.
But there was also an outside threat that made sure that possibility was even more remote. The credible threat of a Soviet invasion made it certain that the US would prepare to meet the threat, which led to the formation of NATO.
In fact, I’d have to say that NATO is the one major reason that Germany decided to finally play nice and get along with it’s neighbors, not coal mines and steel foundries. Treaty obligations meant that it was politically damaging to pull US troops out of Europe, so Germany never had an excuse to rearm to a level where they were a credible threat. (Old joke: “The purpose of NATO is to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down!”)
“The economies of the United States are also rather divergent, but nobody would suggest that the fact that Delaware’s per capita GDP is amost twice that of West Virginia is about to doom the Dollar. (I know this comparison doesn’t work completely, but you catch my drift).”
I not only think the comparison doesn’t work, I think it’s an attempt to construct a straw man.
When it comes to the EU’s economy, I’m not talking about differences between the member nations. Differences in size, growth, exports/imports, local fiscal policy, relative GDP or how many goldfish they have in their living rooms wasn’t discussed, or even mentioned in passing. Instead it’s the lack of transparency, accountability, and inability to correct terrible decisions within the EU bureacracy itself that pose the greatest threat to the EU.
But do I think it’s certain that the EU will dissolve? No, it’s more of a hope than anything else even though there’s a chance of dissolution if some major structural changes aren’t enacted. As I tried to make crystal in my original post, the EU is going to be an abject failure at it’s stated goals if it continues to hold on to some of it’s most treasured institutions. As long as it’s hostile to the democratic process, prone to rule by the elite without accountability, and if it continues to be as inflexible in the face of failure of pilicy that it has been so far, then there’s very little hope for it to achieve any sort of success.
From your agressive comments on my post I’m afraid that I have not made clear that I was not responding to your original post as such. When I said that I was “somewhat amused by the assertions that the death of the EU and the Euro is imminent and/or inevitable” I was not referring to your original post but rather to a general trend in the subsequent comments. Sorry I did not make that clear.
To respond to your response, however:
“The Germans, warlike as they are, weren’t completely crazy enough to try and rearm while the Americans had a bayonet to their throat.”
I think you ought to be a bit more careful in not stereotyping Germans into a people constantly hungry for war. Your comment seems to be implying that Germans would have liked nothing better than to rearm start another war. Apart from the fact that such a stereotype is insulting (“warlike as they are” — I take it the present here is no accident on your part), it is also inaccurate. Germany only decided to rearm when the threat by the Soviet Union and its satellite countries could no longer be ignored. The Pentagon was pressing for a West German contribution to the defense of Western Europe pretty early on, whereas many Germans were opposed to German rearmament. It was even written into the German constitution that German armed forces could only be used for defensive purposes. The fear by Germany’s neighbors that Germany might start another war was obviously real and understandable, given the two devastating world wars within thirty years. But many Germans actually developed a rather pacifist stance. When the German constitution was changed to allow Germany to participate in NATO operations in the former Yugoslavia (i.e. non-defensive ones), this move was rather controversial. The stupid stereotype that Germans have a natural propensity for warmongering should thus have been belied as false by now, but obviously it still persists.
“…the EU is going to be an abject failure at it’s stated goals [stated where and by whom??] if it continues to hold on to some of it’s most treasured institutions. As long as it’s hostile to the democratic process, prone to rule by the elite without accountability, and if it continues to be as inflexible in the face of failure of pilicy that it has been so far, then there’s very little hope for it to achieve any sort of success.”
I do agree that the EU has severe deficiencies with regard to democracy, accountability, transparency and suffers from a bloated bureaucracy. I do not understand, however, how anyone could look at the 54-year-long history of the EU and its predecessor and not call it sucessful in achieving closer economic and political cooperation, the removal of barriers to trade, the economic development of heretofore underdeveloped regions, the promotion of reconciliation and cultural exchange between the peoples of Europe, and the stabilization and democratization of the successor-states to the former Eastern bloc countries. If anybody is afraid of an economically and politically strong European Union, I can see why they would be worried: the EU has achieved all this despite its undeniable flaws.
“I think you ought to be a bit more careful in not stereotyping Germans into a people constantly hungry for war. Your comment seems to be implying that Germans would have liked nothing better than to rearm start another war.”
You’re absolutely right, I spoke out of turn. My apologies.
“…the EU is going to be an abject failure at it’s stated goals [stated where and by whom??]“
I don’t think that anyone can reasonably disagree with the statement that both Germany and France think that they are the movers and shakers that will set the course that the rest of the EU has to follow. (Chirac’s famous scold of East European applicants to shut up springs readily to mind.) Both countries have admitted in public that they’re forging closer ties in order to unite against the United States. Read the article I linked to and you’ll see that they’re hoping to pressure Britain into weakening it’s special relationship with us in order to gain more influence with the UK.
Okay, so some countries that simply happen to be part of the EU are talking tough. Doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re trying to use the EU in their plans, right?
I’d agree with you if Le Monde wasn’t quoting French EU commissioners as they waxed rhapsodic about the diplomatic alliance.
“I do not understand, however, how anyone could look at the 54-year-long history of the EU and its predecessor and not call it sucessful in achieving closer economic and political cooperation, the removal of barriers to trade, the economic development of heretofore underdeveloped regions, the promotion of reconciliation and cultural exchange between the peoples of Europe, and the stabilization and democratization of the successor-states to the former Eastern bloc countries.”
Actually, I see you lavishing a great deal of undeserved praise on the EU.
I have no problem with claiming that the EU has lowered trade barriers and worked to increase some forms of cooperation between member states. But I’d like to point out that any economic success has come in spite of Socialist welfare programs that should have crippled their economies. The only reason it hasn’t is due to the fact that most of the Euro nations have essentially destroyed their armed forces’ ability to actually perform their job. (Project force.)
Proof is in the response to the recent tsunami disaster, where the US military provided heroic and immediate aid that saved an untold number of lives, while the Euro nations were helpless to act, and accused the US of a deliberate attempt to undermine the UN.
How could they do this, destroy their own means of defense? Because the US provided a security blanket that they’ve been all too happy to bask under. For some reason no one in Europe seems to be willing to acknowledge that a major reason for any prosperity has been directly attributable to sponging off of the US taxpayer.
If you’re claiming that the EU looked to open new markets in former Soviet bloc countries after the heavy lifting was done, then I agree with you. But we’ve all seen how effective the EU and the UN is when they try to bring “stabilization and democratization” to countries that aren’t willing to get with the program. (Srebrenica and Serbia) That little problem seemed to be too big for Europe to handle even though it was in their own back yard. It took the US, an ocean away, to take care of things.
And, of course, those Eastern European countries would still be under Communist domination if the United States hadn’t beaten the Soviets in the Cold War.
It’s easy enough for the EU to pat themselves on the back and claim that they’ve made great contributions as long as someone else is paying the bills.
“If anybody is afraid of an economically and politically strong European Union, I can see why they would be worried…”
If I may presume to speak for others, what we fear is weak, ineffective and politically eclipsed EU which will be looking for somebody to blame for its own failures.
There is already a strain of thought in Europe which blames most of Europe’s economic woes on having to compete with the more dynamic US economy on unfair terms. How much worse will this become if Europe becomes even less competitive due to the actions of an unaccountable elite?
To say we fear the success of the EU is analogous to saying we feared for the success of the Weimar Republic. We did not, we feared its failure. (Not that I think that Europe is poised on the brink of Fascism.)
We fear the creation of failed superstate whose unaccountable leadership will be looking for somebody to blame other than themselves. In the contemporary world, that means America.
The assertion that the disappearance of the EU as we know it would be bad for the U.S. leaves a lot to be desired. I am of the opinion that it would be good for all. After all, the staunchest defenders of the European Union hail it as a “counterweight to the U.S.”, which fools no one. Surely, “fighting” the US using every means short of outright confrontation and violence cannot be in the interest of either Europe or the US. Once zero-sum thinking is enshrined into policy, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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