December 6, 2004


Writing off Europe (Spengler, 12/06/04, Asia Times)

Europeans hate and fear the United States, but Americans barely can summon the energy to ignore Europe, which they have written off as a decadent and soon-to-disappear civilization.

In the major newspapers of the US east coast, to be sure, Europeans continue to read about their sad little concerns. What "red state" Americans hear, by contrast, is that Europe is dying, like the now-vanished "evil empire" of Soviet communism. I have been viewing a video titled The Siege of Western Civilization (Storm King Press,, US$19.95) in which a former US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) official, Herbert Meyer, advises Americans on what they may do to avoid Europe's dreadful fate. Meyer's Siege video better reflects America's mood than the international pages of The New York Times.

When the administration of president Ronald Reagan determined that Soviet communism could be crushed, not merely contained, I observed recently, CIA director William J Casey "routinely ignored the legions of Russian-studies PhDs, reaching out instead to irregulars who could give him the insights he required" (How America can win the intelligence war, June 15). Herbert Meyer led the irregulars who broke with the established CIA view to argue that the Soviet economy was at the edge of breakdown.

According the CIA's official history, Meyer, a Fortune magazine editor whom Casey recruited as a senior aide, scoffed at the agency's estimates of Soviet growth. He explained:

Everything I had been able to learn about the Soviet economy, including visiting the place, told me it couldn't be growing at the rate the CIA said it was ... It simply couldn't be true. I know what an economy looks like when it's growing 3% a year, and that isn't what it looks like ... You cannot have food shortages growing worse, production shortages growing worse, bottlenecks - all those things we knew were going on - and still have an economy growing at the rate the agency said it was - which the US was barely doing at that point ... It couldn't be true.

Meyer left the CIA more than 20 years ago, and the Clinton years restocked the CIA with the same sort of second-string academics against whom the Reagan people had rebelled. The howls of pain attendant upon the accession of Porter Goss as the new director of central intelligence suggest that a similar rebellion now may be under way. In any case, Meyer's conclusion that Europe is beyond repair is consistent with his earlier reading of Soviet decay.

The day the last light goes out in Europe a Democrat will be standing in the Senate well telling us how we need to be more like them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 6, 2004 11:34 AM

A visit to western Europe these days is a visit to a museum. For a repeat visitor, it is nice to know that the pretty places will be there. It is hard to figure out what the inhabitants are doing with themselves, but they sure aren't leaving any mark on the place.

Posted by: curt at December 6, 2004 1:32 PM

Europeans just want to lie on the beach and enjoy their childless sunset. All this pesky 'history' is just an intrusion by those rude americans.

Posted by: at December 6, 2004 2:28 PM

OJ, who do you think Spengler is?

Posted by: carter at December 6, 2004 4:59 PM


Don't know, but he's a hoot.

Posted by: oj at December 6, 2004 5:56 PM

Yeah, he's always entertaining.

Posted by: carter at December 6, 2004 7:12 PM

From the new Policy Review:

“We” (Tod Lindberg, Policy Review)

There is no question that the aftermath of September 11, 2001, has laid bare a divergence in view between the United States and Europe over the question of the place of power in international affairs. Insofar as countering terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction has become a priority likely to dominate U.S. security policy for a generation or more, and insofar as the United States will likely seek recourse to military measures on occasion in this period, the divergence is likely to persist. Transatlantic relations may go through periods of relative warming in the years ahead, but they seem likely to be punctuated by occasions in which the differences reemerge starkly. We have, in all likelihood, doses of bitterness ahead of us every bit as unpleasant as the bitterness over the Iraq war.

But what I want to do here is take a large step back from all the disagreement and see if it does not, after all, take place within a frame of broader agreement about fundamental issues — more fundamental, even, than the question of the proper role of the use of force internationally, which is itself a mischaracterization of what was at stake in the dispute over Iraq, as we shall see.

To show how this is so, I would like to radicalize the discussion by proffering a thesis so contrarian in the current context that I should probably begin by asking readers’ indulgence. It is this: There are no fundamental disagreements or differences between the United States and Europe. Existing differences are often more apparent than real. When real, the differences are in all consequential cases actually agreements to disagree. And in any case, the views of Americans and Europeans have been converging for some time and will continue to do so.

Posted by: Mike Daley at December 6, 2004 8:41 PM