February 27, 2005

MARK STEYN HAS REMOVED ANY DOUBT about where he thinks Europe is headed:

Most administration officials subscribe to one of two views: a) Europe is a smugly irritating but irrelevant backwater; or b) Europe is a smugly irritating but irrelevant backwater where the whole powder keg’s about to go up.

For what it’s worth, I incline to the latter position. Europe’s problems — its unaffordable social programs, its deathbed demographics, its dependence on immigration numbers that no stable nation (not even America in the Ellis Island era) has ever successfully absorbed — are all of Europe’s making. . . .

Until the shape of the new Europe begins to emerge, there’s no point picking fights with the terminally ill. The old Europe is dying, and Mr. Bush did the diplomatic equivalent of the Oscar night lifetime-achievement tribute at which the current stars salute a once glamorous old-timer whose fading aura is no threat to them. The 21st century is being built elsewhere.

Personally, I hope that Austin Bay’s more hopeful view turns out to be right.

UPDATE: Mark Steyn responds to Austin Bay in Austin’s comments.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A more positive take on Europe, from an American serviceman serving there, can be found at Amy Ridenour’s blog.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: More on Europe, in a less hopeful vein, here: “One interesting angle in the story is the way in which the phenomenon of mass immigration has now intersected with membership of the EU to make an already tricky problem unmanageable.”

MORE: Beldar comments on the debate. And this post from Ann Althouse is worth noting, too.

STILL MORE: Brian Dunn quotes Victor Davis Hanson and observes:

I don’t believe that Europe is beyond another bout of internal bloodletting. Just because Europe since 1945 has only seen war in the Balkans does not mean war is banished. Europe went through a period from 1815 to 1914 without much large-scale war. France versus Prussia, Austria versus Prussia, Russia versus Britain and France, French versus Italians (I think). It sounds like a lot, but over 99 years and considering the violent past of Europe, that really wasn’t much. So I’m not convinced that Europe has had war bred out of it. They have a violent past and the very zeal they look to Brussels is a sign that Europeans don’t think war is bred out of them. Otherwise why would they seek suppression of national conflict through a super-state entangling them all in rules and treaties?

And if Europe isn’t immune from warlike impulses, I don’t think it is safe to assume that a revival of war impulses couldn’t be directed against us. We could be blamed for their problems. They blame us for so many things already, why not?

Well, that’s cheerful.