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June 02, 2005

Europe's Problem? Facts Americana

The answer to Europe's woes is right in front of them, or at least across the Atlantic. Or, closer to home, coming through on their televisions and computers every night.

But they keep looking for ways to avoid the obvious solution.

No one will ever admit they were wrong-- unless they have no other choice. And, felicitiously enough, Europe is running out of choices faster than Alec Baldwin is running out of job-offers in which he doesn't play comic foil to a six foot tall talking cat.

Victor Davis Hanson:

The E.U. constitution β€” and its promise of a new Europe β€” supposedly offered a corrective to the Anglo-American strain of Western civilization. More government, higher taxes, richer entitlements, pacifism, statism and atheism would make a more humane and powerful new continent of over 400 million to outpace a retrograde United States.

Instead, Europe faces a declining population, unassimilated minorities, low growth, high unemployment and an inability to defend itself, either militarily or morally. Somehow the directorate of the European Union has figured out how to have too few citizens while having too many of them out of work.

...

Why all these upheavals?

Global communications now reveal hourly to people abroad how much better life is in Europe than in the Middle East and Asia β€” and how in America, Australia and Britain the standard of living is even better than in most of Europe.

...

The mass mourning of the pope's death revealed a renewed desire for spirituality. Two billion in India and China quietly keep copying the West. Car bombs, fist-shaking mobs and beheadings dispel all the old romance about the Third-World postcolonial "other."

What are we left with then?

Democracy, open markets, personal freedom, individual rights, pride in national traditions, worry about big government β€” about what we see in the United States, Britain, Australia and their allies in Japan and the breakaway countries in Europe. Elections in Ethiopia, France, Iraq, Lebanon and Ukraine all point to a desire for more freedom from central state control.

The end of history, redux? Maybe. But Europe has been clinging to that bit of time just before the end of history for 50 years now.

Max Boot:

The lives of ordinary French people are not dominated by dreams of lost glory; they simply want a decent job and public services that work. It was telling that only professionals and senior executives β€” i.e., France's top occupational rung β€” voted for the constitution last week. Everyone else opted for "non."

The only way to dispel the current climate of gloom on the continent is to get economies moving again. Margaret Thatcher showed how it can be done: Reduce the size of the state and break the power of the labor unions. But neither Chirac nor his hapless counterpart in Berlin, Gerhard Schroeder, has the guts to do that. Instead, like most European leaders in recent decades, they have thrown their energies into EU integration in the vain hope that this would deliver a shot of Viagra to a moribund continent.

The bankruptcy of that strategy has now been exposed. The question is whether European leaders will face up to their real problems. The fact that Chirac has reacted to the failure of the constitutional referendum by appointing as premier Dominique de Villepin, a haughty intellectual who thinks Napoleon was the ne plus ultra of good governance, is a bad sign.

The good news is that in the wings in France and Germany are conservative leaders Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, respectively, who just might have the gumption to cure their countries' real woes rather than continuing to administer an anti-American analgesic.

The BBC Are Idiots Update: Breaking news. Must credit Ace.

Blogging gets blamed for a lot of crap, and apparently the BBC is blaming the failure of the EU treaty (which it must after all support; after all, the French do) on bloggers.

Well, I'd like to take credit, but seriously, that's just f'n' stupid.

People don't make political decisions based on the say-so of guys who proudly display pictures of their Planet of the Apes action figure collection.

Or... do they?


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posted by Ace at 03:50 PM

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