Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The EU at 50

By Joseph Puder

March 25th marked the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which gave birth to a unified Europe. On March 25, 1957, six European countries – France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Luxemburg – resolved to abandon their bloody past and turn a new page in European history.

Within just two generations, they’ve succeeded in ways they never could have imagined. The extreme nationalism of Europe that spawned Nazism and Fascism gave way to an opposite extreme: a feminized Europe that abjures the use of force. Such nationalism as remains in Europe can be found on the football (soccer) field, where national flags are widely displayed and ethnic pride celebrated.

This new European pacifism is alleged to be a reaction to World War II and the Holocaust. Ironically, in recent years, anti-Semitism in Europe -- oftentimes disguised as anti-Zionism -- has reached peaks not seen since the 1930’s. France, the birthplace of “liberte, e’galite, fraternite ou la mort!” (“Freedom, equality, brotherhood or death!”), has become an unwelcome home for Jews. While today’s hate and violence stems largely from Arab-Islamic immigrants, the fact remains that French Jews, along with Jews from other West European countries, no longer feel safe on the continent that once conspired to murder their co-religionists.

Europeans, it is said, were shamed by their brutality, religious intolerance, and racism. But instead of nurturing and sustaining Israel, a fellow democracy raised from the ashes of the Holocaust, Europeans redirected their guilt and shame by pandering to the Arab-Muslim world. Israel today is vilified and demonized by the European press. The governments of the European Union have steered a clear pro-Arab course, making Palestinians the object of their repentance.

Some in the EU may have forgotten the Marshall Plan and how America saved the continent from economic ruin and political takeover by the Soviet Union. The actions of France and Germany in recent years, especially their anti-American opposition to the Iraq war, are a good indication of this. Europe’s political Left has shown greater solidarity with America’s enemies than with the U.S. Europe’s press regards the U.S. in general, and the Bush administration in particular, as “public enemy number 1.” So much for European gratitude.

Meanwhile, EU bureaucrats, such as Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank, pat themselves on the back: “In 50 years, Europe has journeyed from political disarray and economic disorder to a high degree of economic and monetary integration and has become the world’s brand-leader in peaceful political cooperation,” Trichet recently observed in the Wall Street Journal. “The people of Europe can be proud of this metamorphosis. Surmounting all difficulties, leaders with vision, setting up solid foundations, have moved Europe ever forward.”

Trichet’s self-congratulation is premature, however. Consider the social toll that European integration has exacted on European societies. Religion, specifically Christianity, which gave Europe its values and order, has been discarded (except in Ireland) and replaced by a socialist, “humanist” ethos. This ethos is reflected in the negative birthrate that will soon reaffirm another, long-denied European ethos: namely, the willingness of Europeans to abandon Europe to hordes of Islamists who are slowly but surely overrunning the continent. The mantra of appeasement-minded Europeans during the Cold War -- “Better Red than Dead” -- may soon be succeeded by a new slogan: “Better Green than Dead.”

Europeans fight to sustain their vacation time -- Italy’s average annual vacation time is 42 days, France 37, and Germany’s 35 -- but will not defend themselves against today’s Islamist enemies. The defense of Europe against Islamic terrorism has been left for America: U.S. defense expenditures as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product are 4.1 percent compared to 1.8 percent for the EU. Just a few years ago in France, scores of elderly Parisians died during a summer heat wave while their children vacationed on the Cote d’Azur. If Europeans won’t fight for their past (their parents) or their future (their progeny), one is forced to ask: For what will they fight?

A healthy society seeks to insure its demographic future. In today’s Europe, however, native European birthrates are below replacement rates, a trend that, should it continue, will ensure the continent’s ultimate demise. In public schools throughout the EU, especially in Belgium and France, Muslim immigrants already make up more than 50 percent of the student body. And with Muslim birthrates in the EU countries exploding, Europe is likely to experience a dramatic demographic change in a generation or two. In radical mosques throughout Europe, talk is rife of the ultimate triumph of Islam in Europe.

Europe’s intellectual class prefers to look on the bright side. According to Oxford historian Timothy Garton Ash, “The European Union is the most successful example of peaceful regime change in our time…In every corner of the continent most people are better off and more free than they were half a century ago.” While that might be true, it is equally true to cite Luxemburg’s Prime Minister Jean Claude Juncker’s declaration that “the “EU is not in a crisis; it is in deep crisis.” Also belying the EU’s supposed success is the rejection of the EU Constitution by the French and Dutch voters in the summer of 2005, which put an end to plans for further European political integration.

Jacque Delors, the president of the European Commission from 1985-1994, has observed, “There is no dream, no vision that strikes today’s European citizens in the way that reconciliation and an end to war did 50 years ago. Most of today’s leaders devote their time to attacking Brussels and all of its works.” One reason is the poor economic performance of the big European economies, the so-called “engine states” like France, Germany and Italy. Persistently high unemployment, slow GDP growth, and social welfare expenditures, mostly on unproductive immigrants, have dampened the enthusiasm for further expansion of the EU beyond its 27 states (the latest entry being Bulgaria with Romania in 2007).

Ultimately however, the success or failure of the EU must be measured by more than economic statistics. Europe’s social problems today are, in some respects, worse than in pre-civil rights America. The Muslim immigrant populations numbering 20-30 million cannot be assimilated, and there is little to prevent them from seeking to implement Shari’a law in Europe and to make this infidel continent part of the domain of Islam. As they celebrate the 50th anniversary of European unification, Europeans would do well to consider that the continent may not survive another 50.

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