November 16, 2005


Heaven on Earth (Victor Davis Hanson, 11/14/05, Tribune Media Services)

The premises of an increasingly ossified and undemocratic European Union are as admirable in theory as they are ludicrous in reality. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the removal of thousands of Red Army soldiers from Eastern Europe, the new Europeans unilaterally have declared themselves a heaven on earth. By that I mean the continent's citizens feel that they are now exempt from the harsh reality facing billions of mere mortals in America, China, India and Russia.

War is by fiat obsolete and relegated to more primitive others. While Europeans may grudgingly concede that the United States still provides them subsidized and reliable defense, the embarrassment is explained away by the belief that America is bellicose anyway — and so must enjoy chasing mostly imagined enemies around the globe.

Practically, such pacifism results in a weakening of NATO, with the expectation that the United States will continue to assume an ever-greater share of its costs and manpower. Few over here realize that they have finally lost American good will — and with it the public's desire ever again to bail them out from another Milosevic or an ascendant Russia or nuclear Iran on the horizon.

Families of four or five are dismissed as something for the less educated, the parochial or the pious who have the time to waste changing diapers and nursing. In contrast, the new childless European citizen is otherwise too engaged in travel, fine food, global moralizing and intellectual pursuit.

Far more prolific Arabic and Turkish immigrants are welcome to collect the garbage and clean, but not properly intermarry, integrate or assimilate. Still, Europeans do not thereby feel illiberal. After all, they broadcast to the world that they are progressives on humanitarian issues of global poverty, world courts and the environment.

Before the current intifada in their suburbs, the French apparently thought that while Arab Muslims were fourth-class citizens at home, that embarrassment was more than compensated for abroad by tacit French support of Hamas and by the selling of almost anything to any Arab autocracy.

The utopian dream of a 35-hour work week, lifelong job tenure and cradle-to-grave benefits falls victim to a bothersome reality: More competitive Americans, Indians and Chinese have no such pretensions. While Europe gets its beauty rest, others work far harder and longer to produce cheaper things for an ever more price-conscious global consumer.

In fairness, it's irrational to criticize secular Europe for selfishness, after all, it's only God's commands that make us responsible for loving others.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 16, 2005 12:07 PM
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