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  1. #1
    sojustask's Avatar
    sojustask is offline The Late, Great Lady Mod - Retired User Rank
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    Feb 2005

    Curious - Europe Learns The Wrong Lessons

    I heard this on the way to work this morning and it's piqued my curiosity. What are your opinions on this action?

    Why, when they are so much closer to the conflict, would our European allies be reducing their militaries and military spending the last 2 years when Iran is holding prisoners to ensure they won't be stopped in developing their own nuclear weapons? That's how it was put on the radio.

    So I have been doing some checking and found this:
    Wednesday March 28th 2007

    Europe Learns The Wrong Lessons: Red America / Blue Europe
    By Karl Zinsmeister, The American Enterprise

    Nearly one third of Germans under 30 say that the U.S. government ordered the 9/11 attacks. In France, a book insisting that Americans carried out the assault themselves to increase defense budgets becomes a huge bestseller. In Britain, major newspapers carry headlines like "The USA is Now the World's Leading Rogue State."

    Asked which countries are the biggest threat to world peace, Europeans name the U.S as often as North Korea and Iran (each are picked by 53 percent). Countries characterized by Euros as less menacing than the U.S. include Syria, Iraq, Russia, China, Afghanistan, Libya. As one American living in Britain, Anglican minister Dwight Longenecker, summarizes: "Our cultural ancestors have become unrecognizable, even hostile, to us."

    Unlike some forms of bigotry, anti-Americanism is most virulent among Europe's elites. Everyday Germans and Brits and Italians tend to be more appreciative of American culture, economic achievement, and government than their political lords. But ordinary Europeans have relatively little influence on the direction of their societies. The thing about European governance most striking to American eyes today is its comparatively undemocratic nature. In much of the continent, elections mean little, unaccountable bureaucracies and elites commandeer the most important decisions, the same people hang onto power endlessly, and policies that would not survive the test of popular opinion are simply instituted by administrative fiat. To cite just one example, direct election of mayors has been blocked in many localities, with national authorities insisting on appointing local leaders themselves.

    Because of this unrepresentative politics, lots of ideas supported by a majority of the European public--like the death penalty--have no chance of becoming law. The tradition of a peasantry ruled by its "betters" endures in numerous ways. Many of these habits are actually being deepened by the European Union, where decision making is dominated by unrecallable mandarins serving appointments in Brussels, who regularly ram through laws that could never pass by popular referendum.

    Bile and grandstanding

    This Europe manipulated from above has failed to keep pace with the mushrooming achievements of less heavily bridled American and Asian competitors. The continent's ruling class is thus in a foul humor. In a June column, Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal perfectly captured the angry condescension now often directed by European authorities at American representatives. He describes being ambushed at a Sunday brunch by a German diplomat:

    “Apropos of nothing, he said he had recently made a study of U.S. tax laws and concluded that practices here were inferior to those in Germany. Given recent rates of German economic growth, I found this comment odd. But I offered no rejoinder... Bad as U.S. economic policy was, it was as nothing next to our human-rights record... The gulag was better than Guantanamo, since at least the Stalinist system offered its victims a trial of sorts... Civil rights in the U.S., he said, were on a par with those of North Korea and rather behind what they had been in Europe in the Middle Ages... My wife and I made abortive attempts at ordinary conversation. We were met with non sequiturs: ‘The only people who appreciate American foreign policy are poodles.’”

    This kind of bilious grandstanding now dominates European diplomacy. Indeed, Europe no longer even attempts a serious and constructive foreign policy in many important areas. Quick: Name one thing the old continental European powers have done to help stabilize Iraq. O.K., France has detailed one officer (literally) to help train the Iraqi police. But when Iraqi prime minister Ayad Allawi wanted to meet with France’s president last year, he was refused. Instead of offering practical guidance to the new leader of one of the globe’s hotspots, Jacques Chirac rushed off to the deathbed of Yasser Arafat, whom he fawned over and called “a hero.”

    An irresponsible preference for moral dudgeon over useful solutions is now a hallmark of European foreign affairs, argues Charles Krauthammer:

    “A leftist judge in Spain orders the arrest of a pathetic, near-senile General Augusto Pinochet eight years after he’s left office, and becomes a human rights hero... Yet for the victims of contemporary monsters still actively killing and oppressing—Khomeini and his successors, the Assads of Syria, and until yesterday Hussein and his sons— nothing. No sympathy. No action. Indeed, virulent hostility to America’s courageous and dangerous attempt at rescue.”

    Krauthammer's conclusion is that the European Left's "concern for human rights turns out to be nothing more than a useful weapon for its anti-Americanism."

    The pattern stretches back to Korea

    For evidence that obstruction of the U.S. is more important to many European elites than making progress in the world’s most dangerous flashpoints, look no farther than Afghanistan. The Afghan war was not controversial in Old Europe. It was universally agreed that the Taliban was a blight on central Asia, and that the al-Qaeda cells incubating in Afghanistan were a menace to the entire globe. Europeans accepted the urgent necessity of rooting out both entities militarily, and then rebuilding the Afghan government and civil society.

    But once U.S. forces had done the dirty work of eliminating Afghanistan’s fanatical ruling cliques, did our European allies live up to their promises to help update that nation’s infrastructure, train its police, build up its courts, revive its social sector and economy? Scandalously, no.

    As we’ve been pointing out for two years the Europeans immediately fell way behind on their financial pledges. Their troop commitments were not met. The German promise to train the Afghan police became a joke. European offers to reconstruct the justice system went nowhere. In all of these areas, America had to step into the breach to help suffering Afghans, and stave off disorder and a re-emergence of terror cells.

    Truth be told, continental Europeans have been making themselves scarce during times of crisis for more than two generations. Their current claim is that lack of a U.N. mandate is what has prevented Europe from standing shoulder to shoulder with the U.S. since the 9/11 attacks. But the Old World’s failure to make any proportionate contribution to the war on terror is actually part of a long historical pattern. Consider their response the last time a large U.N.-commanded force went to war—in Korea.

    After North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, the U.N. responded militarily. Of the 340,000 troops sent under U.N. control, how many of these do you suppose were European? About 5 percent. In the crunch, only Britain provided meaningful help, sending 14,198 soldiers at the Korean War’s peak. The next biggest European contribution? Greece, with 1,263. France followed, providing all of 1,119 troops.

    The U.S., meanwhile, provided more than 300,000 fighters. Do the math and you’ll see something interesting: The Korean War alliance included 16 nations, and America supplied 88 percent of the military manpower. The Iraq War coalition included 32 nations, and 85 percent of the G.I.s were Americans. (Poland, Holland, and the Ukraine each contributed more soldiers to the Iraq War coalition than the French did to the Korean War.) See a pattern?


  2. #2
    sojustask's Avatar
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    Re: Curious - Europe Learns The Wrong Lessons

    Couldn’t help if they wanted

    Having for years refused to fund their militaries, and lacking sufficient numbers of young men with patriotic martial spirit, the continental European nations could not project much righteous military power today even if they did have the will. You will often hear gassy rhetoric at European conclaves about how, as Spanish prime minister Zapatero recently put it, “Europe must believe that it can be in 20 years the most important world power.” But the stark reality is that only 3 to 5 percent of the 2.5 million personnel under arms in Europe today can be deployed, even for a short time. Due to its military weakness and diplomatic vacillation, “Europe is nearly irrelevant to the great issues of the future” in today’s conflict zones, notes my colleague Tom Donnelly in a new book.

    Even without effective military forces, Europeans could exert much more productive influence on world events if they applied their other substantial resources. Writer Thomas Friedman suggested earlier this year that, “If the European Union said to the Iranians: ‘You will shut down your nuclear-weapons program and put all your reactors and related facilities under international inspection, or you will face a total economic boycott from Europe’ that is the kind of explicit threat that would get Tehran’s attention. But, alas, Europeans would rather live with a nuclear Iran—that Europe can make all kinds of money off of— than risk losing Iran’s business to prevent it from going nuclear.”

    German businessman Mathias Doepfner says that at least since the time of Hitler, European elites have lacked the courage to stand up to dictators. Apart from the British, Euros have consistently left this job to the U.S. Today perhaps more than ever, they assume that the U.S. will always be there to deter crazy Iranians, and dangerous al-Qaedans, and unstable North Koreans. So why shoulder the expense and danger of acts of solidarity with the Americans?

    An economic divide

    Some considerable part of today’s European hostility toward the U.S. is born of frustration over their own failures, and jealousy of American success. This is especially clear in the realm of economics, where Europe has been drooping for two decades now. Europe’s economic malaise is producing many bad social effects quite apart from increased resentment toward the U.S.— so we would like to see it become a central plank of American foreign policy to encourage reforms that could pull the continent out of its financial funk.

    Europe’s economic trauma can be seen most clearly in Germany, which has performed miserably since edging away from the American free-market model and toward the French socialized-market alternative. Unemployment in Germany has reached the potentially destabilizing level of 12 percent. More shockingly, about a third of those unemployed have been jobless for more than a year. This is not some recessionary blip; over the last decade and a half, economic growth in Germany has averaged only a little over 1 percent. This miserable performance has allowed the people of other nations to pass the Germans in standard of living.

    As Europe’s locomotive runs out of fuel, the whole train slows. French unemployment rates are nearly as high as in Germany. Across the 15 nations of the European Union, the proportion of the jobless who have been unemployed for more than a year now exceeds 40 percent.

    In his article, Joel Kotkin notes that Europe has created just 4 million net new jobs since the 1970s. And most of those were in government, not the private sector. During that same period, the U.S. created 57 million new jobs—which is why it has become the magnet for the globe’s most economically ambitious people.

    Shrinking economic opportunity has particularly harsh effects on newcomers like immigrants and the young. In France, Italy, Germany, and Belgium, approximately a quarter of all workers under 25 are currently unemployed. Many young Euros now begin their productive years with a stint on the dole. This is a formula not just for economic mediocrity, but for personal heartache and social unrest.

    And the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that economic growth will slacken even further in the countries employing the Euro as currency. From an anemic growth rate of 1.3 percent per year between 2010 and 2020, OECD economists forecast a decline to under 1 percent annual growth during the decade following. Those little gray numbers are more than marks on paper—over time they will translate into notably pinched lives. Already, higher U.S. growth over the last generation has given average Americans a standard of living about 40 percent richer than average continental Europeans. Continue that a few more decades and we will no longer be peers, but two very different cultures.

    Better dead than economically red?

    And it’s not just Americans whom Europeans are falling behind. The people who invented industrialism are now also being outstripped by residents of Asian and Latin American countries that have embraced globalization. Kotkin reports that Europe’s share of world Gross Domestic Product (which inevitably corresponds to international influence) shrank from 34 percent to 20 percent over the latest lifetime.

    It was by adopting free-market capitalism that Asians and Latin Americans bolted upward—and in particular by copying productive ideas from the world’s largest economy (the U.S.) as fast as they could figure them out.

    The most successful Europeans did likewise: The Irish and British have thrived over the last three decades (overtaking Germany in living standards) mostly by incorporating lessons from the U.S. on deregulation, tax reduction, trust in markets, technological innovation, and economic freedom.

    British prime minister Tony Blair has strongly urged his fellow Europeans to be less statist, crabbed about new technologies and business methods, and fearful of change. In a June speech to the E.U. parliament he warned that if the people of Europe “huddle together, hoping we can avoid globalization, shrink away from confronting the changes around us, take refuge in the present policies of Europe—as if by constantly repeating them, we wouldÉmake them more relevant—[then] we risk failure. Failure on a grand, strategic scale.”

    Unfortunately, a combination of ideological stubbornness and blind anti-Americanism makes many Europeans resist the economic modernizations they desperately need. It’s as if, updating the old slogan, they’d rather be economically dead than red (if we use red in the Election 2000 sense to symbolize Reagan- Bush-style economics). The French have long caricatured the American economy as a free-market jungle, where fatcats prey and the weak perish. Recently, leftists in other European countries have adopted the French stereotype and sought to distance themselves from what they call “Anglo Saxon capitalism.”

    The irony is that for all their insistence on portraying the U.S. as a land of fired workers, poverty, and economic insecurity, it is now Europe where unemployment is twice as high and four times as deep, where immigrants and the young have far fewer openings, where the ladder of upward mobility has fallen to pieces. In terms of spending power, homeownership, educational opportunities, and so forth, even relatively low income Americans are now demonstrably better off than typical Europeans.

    So which economic alternative is actually more “harsh on the poor and economically underprivileged”? Today’s socialized European economies bill themselves as generous and progressive, but in cold practice they are proving illiberal and reactionary. Reforms that could open up new fresh opportunities for stagnated workers are being blocked by Europe’s dominant class, for fear that a more freewheeling system might reduce the privileges of those currently in command.


  3. #3
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    Re: Curious - Europe Learns The Wrong Lessons

    In denial

    The good news is that much of what ails Europe economically today would be fairly easy to fix, given a little foresight, courage, and patience. Europe brims with bright, well-raised people, potent corporations, and an elaborate physical infrastructure. What’s disappointing is that relatively few Europeans show an inclination to accept the verdicts of recent economic history and simply change a few critical policies. In fact, when it comes to economic and political policy, many Europeans now seem to be drawing precisely the wrong lessons.

    For instance, it wasn’t the fact that Gerhard Schroeder’s socialist program crippled Germany’s once-mighty business sector that turned voters against him. Rather, he fell out of favor when he finally concluded that his country’s cripplingly overweight pension and welfare load needed to be slimmed down. Schroeder’s predecessor was booted out of office in 1998 for trying to make pension trims of his own. (Meanwhile, German workers now pay more to the government than they are allowed to keep themselves.)

    Within the last few months, European voters in Portugal and Bulgaria voted in new Socialist governments actually promising fatter state benefits. This despite the fact that government is already bigger than the entire private sector in these places. It is “manna from heaven” economic policies of this sort that have enticed one out of every 16 Dutch citizens to declare themselves “disabled.”

    Mind you, plenty of Europeans have recognized that such practices are crazy and unsustainable. I’ve mentioned Tony Blair’s effort to drag his fellow European politicians toward more sensible positions. Blair argues that if they are more intelligently guided, the people of Europe will accept reforms. He told the European parliament in that June address that “It is time to give ourselves a reality check. To receive the wake-up call. The people are blowing the trumpets round the city walls. Are we listening? Have we the political will to go out and meet them so that they regard our leadership as part of the solution, not the problem?”

    Even in France, Nicolas Sarkozy—who could become France’s president within the next few years—recently encouraged his countrymen to be less dismissive of American and British alternatives. “Where do we get off looking down our noses at countries that have half the unemployment rate we do? Don’t we have an interest in looking for models elsewhere?”

    Unfortunately, open minds like these are still the exception. Plenty more Europeans simply refuse to consider any dramatic alteration of their ingrained welfare-state habits. A new poll released as I wrote this essay finds that six out of ten Germans currently describe socialism as “a good idea that so far has been implemented badly.” Talk about a depressing resistance to reality.

    Similarly, there were many good reasons why French and Dutch voters might have wanted to reject the awful draft E.U. constitution, as they did this summer. Alas, the reasons cited by many “no” voters were the most stubbornly counterproductive ones: They wanted to discourage any reductions of welfare benefits and trade protectionism. They were rejecting the corporate and government reforms that economists have been prescribing for years. They refused to consider any shift toward higher productivity and efficiency instead of lifetime guarantees to employees. They were demanding less economic integration with the rest of the world, not more.

    Clearly, the romance for statist economics has gotten a kind of second wind within many sectors of the European population. And the result is a slow, sad, suicidal stagnation.

    Beyond economics and politics

    There are now even deeper divergences which separate Europe from the U.S. Commenting on the collapse of the European birthrate (which will leave a majority of residents in many cities with no siblings, cousins, aunts or uncles), George Weigel observes that “when an entire continent, healthier, wealthier, and more secure than ever before, fails to create the human future in the most elemental sense—by creating the next generation— something very serious is afoot.” He concludes that “Europe is dying. The wasting disease that has beset this once greatest of civilizations is not physical, however. It is a disease in the realm of the human spirit.”

    Look upon the suicide clinic in Switzerland that administers a glass of schnapps and then a peaceful death by injection. Note the German laws that, first, legalized prostitution two years ago, and then started requiring laid-off waitresses and secretaries to entertain job offers from the sex industry or face the loss ofunemployment benefits. Realize that 31 percent of pediatricians in the Netherlands have euthanized an infant, and that a fifth of these took place without the knowledge or consent of parents. And suddenly one is inclined to share the observation of Britain- dweller Dwight Longenecker that “beneath it all, the growing divide between Europe and America is a divide between theism and atheism. This simple divide is cosmic in its importance, and affects simply everything.”

    So what should the response be from Americans who, in a cold world, would wish for closer ties with our European cousins?

    First, we must remember that we continue to have many profound friends in Europe— albeit too many of them embattled at the moment, like Rocco Buttiglione. In a speech at the American Enterprise Institute in December of 2004, Buttiglione gave a hint of how we might best encourage our natural confreres across the Atlantic: “I wish to thank the United States. You cannot imagine the impact of the result of American elections in Europe, because America is modernity, and what takes precedence in America will take precedence in Europe in 10 or 15 or 20 years.” The European Left, Buttiglione states, lives in fear that what roots in America might spread to Europe in coming years. But “their worry,” he affirms, “is my hope.”

    So we must support our natural allies across Europe, and wish that one day they may again lead their societies toward the same freedoms and individual virtues that Europeans once cherished in concert with Americans. And meantime, as we work and wait, many citizens of the United States will experience a private pang of agreement with balladeer Guy Clark—who, in his song “Immigrant Eyes,” thanks his grandfather foremost because “he gave me the gift of this country” by leaving an older one behind.


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