Saw this post on DanielDrezner (via Instapundit) and found it interesting. The post contains an excerpt from of a cover story in Newsweek's international editions by Andrew Moravcsik which celebrates the European Union's 50th anniversary:
American Alone. While Europe Slept. Menace in Europe. As the European Union celebrates the 50th anniversary of its founding Treaty of Rome, the pundits agree: Europe is in terminal decline. It is a continental-size museum dropping into the dustbin of history....
To most who live in Europe—or have visited lately—all this seems wrong, even absurd. As the European Union turns 50 this week, let us consider all that has been achieved. Europe arose from the ashes of the Great Depression and World War II to become whole and free. Half a century ago, only a utopian would have predicted that, today, one can traverse Europe from Sweden to Sicily without encountering a border control and—most of the way—using a single European currency. Or that a tariff-free single market would exist, cemented by a common framework of economic regulation.
Europe is now a global superpower of world-historical importance, second to none in economic clout. It has constructed one of the most successful systems of government—the modern social-welfare state, which for all its flaws has brought unprecedented prosperity and security to Europe's people. It is the single most successful advance in voluntary international cooperation in modern history. The original European Economic Community of 1957 has grown from its founding six members to 27, knitting together just under 500 million people from the western Aran Islands of Ireland through the heart of Central Europe to the Black Sea. Its values are spreading across the globe—far more attractive, in many respects, than those of America. If anything, Europe's trajectory is up, not down.
Drezner provides some excellent analysis, but here are my two cents.
First, it should be noted that the success of Europe today, when viewed from the perspective of what has been achieved in the past 50 years, must take into consideration that America is the primary reason for such success. Yes, only a utopian in the 1940's could imagine that would arise "from the ashes of the Great Depression and World War II to become whole and free." Thanks to America's involvement in World War II and its leadership and economic support in the post-war era, Europe saw significant economic and political success. In exchange for the spilled blood and economic support, we only asked for some patch of land to bury our dead and the thanks from those we liberated.
Second, Europe's economic and political success, and their "successful" modern social-welfare state can be directly attributed to the military protection that the US has provided during the post-war period and which continues to this day. (As I pointed out in this post, it's time to pull our troops out from the front lines in Europe.) Without our protection, either the Soviets would have taken over Europe or the social-welfare states would've collapsed under their own weight.
Now, as Drezner points out, I don't think the prospects for Europe are that great. For while the Germans and the French are okay with some degree of free market competition between their relatively comparable economies, there is a high degree of suspicion and fear of the central European states like Poland, Hungary, etc. The economic statism of France and Germany as it pertains to labor mobility will surely result in on-going tensions between these "modern" economies and those with lower costs of labor.
Finally, as Mark Steyn points out relentlessly in America Alone and in most of his columns, the demography of Europe just isn't trending in the right direction for economic prosperity or a positive future. And it should be noted that the modern social-welfare state may very well be one cause for the EU's poor demographic trends. If they fail to begin reproducing at somewhere near replacement rate, it will not be long before the values of the EU are more closely aligned with Lebanon or Pakistan than Western civilization.
Only time will tell, but my prediction is that the next 50 years of the EU will be less successful than the first 50.
ARC: St Wendeler