Europe's Age Of Delusions
It's over, says Walter Laqueur. There will be no European Century. He sees decline everywhere:
While the Europe of 15 nations had become a Europe of 25, it had not become a more closely knit union. On the contrary, the centrifugal trends had become stronger, as seen in the vote against a common European constitution, first in France and later in the Netherlands (both referendums in 2005). That came as a great surprise and shock to the Brussels Eurocrats, and also to a considerable part of the political class in Europe. The Continent seemed further than ever from a common foreign and defense policy. The earlier Euro-optimism gave way to a wave of pessimism, the expression not just of a changing mood but also of the belated realization that Europe faced enormous problems with which it had not yet come to terms: The issue at stake was not its emergence as the leading superpower, but its survival.
This, then, is the picture of Europe in the first decade of the new century. It is a picture of gradual decline. Future historians may well be at a loss to understand why the sorry state of affairs was realized only late in the day, despite the fact that all the major trends demography, the stalling of the movement toward European unity, and the crisis of the welfare state had appeared well before the turn of the century.
I have to say I find and have always found the idea of Europe as a global power unsettling and undesirable. Same with blather about a new European Century. The great insight of post-modern Europe is that global power is over-rated. It was only when the Brits stopped wishing to return to their finest hour and started enjoying the present moment that London became the de facto global capital. I'm not a gloom-monger about Muslim immigration either. I'm concerned about Islamism, of course. But I also believe that given a choice between soul-throttling fundamentalism and individual liberty, most people will pick liberty in the end. That goes for the children and grandchildren of unassimilated Muslim immigrants to Europe. They are at their maximum danger now. Give them a few generations, and freedom will do its work. The key is not to lose our nerve in the meantime - and our faith in freedom's power.