March 18, 2003

IS THE EUROPEAN UNION DYING? Some people think so.

Meanwhile, Germany's military is being called a "basket case:"

But even if Germany did want to take part in a war on Iraq, military experts say it would find it hard to fight alongside the modern United States military.

"They're a basket case," a senior NATO official in Brussels said.

The United States has urged Germany and other NATO allies to transform their traditionally static armed forces into high-tech, mobile services that can better share the task of policing the world.

Most NATO allies have followed Germany's lead in letting defense spending languish since the end of the cold war, investing in rich social welfare programs instead. As a result, America's annual defense budget is now nearly double that of the 18 other NATO countries combined.

And don't even ask about the French. Welfare-statism doesn't work. I suspect we'll see that demonstrated again in the next decade or two. My worry has been that Europe wouldn't be able to face the truth without a wrenching -- and perhaps violent -- transition. The good news is, they may not be able to muster much in the way of violence by then.

This brings me no pleasure, but I think that Old Europe, like an alcoholic, will have to hit rock bottom before it's able to change.