The European character, Obama’s disinterest in Europe, and the Euro’s possible collapse

As part of a larger opinion piece giving thanks that America is still un-European enough to resist Obama’s European-izing efforts, Jonathan Rosenbloom has this to say about the modern European character:

In A State Beyond the Pale: Europe’s Problem with Israel, Robin Shepherd analyzes the cast of mind that predisposes Europeans to hate Israel so much, and repeatedly raises the question as to whether these attitudes could take hold in America (or have already done so on elite campuses). In addition, Europe has remained passive in the face of both the internal demographic threat from its Muslim population and the external threat of radical Islam.

The sources of Europe’s appeasement mentality are many. Having ceased to produce children, Europeans are understandably less concerned about the future. They are content to buy time until they can shuffle off this mortal coil in peace. And having cast off traditional religion, they find no transcendent values worth dying for, since nothing awaits them after death.

The European model of decision-making by centralized bureaucratic states or the European Union also contributes to passivity in the face of danger. Those who willingly turn over the control of their lives to a centralized bureaucracy, and no longer insist on their right – or at least that of their elected representatives – to make the crucial decisions about their lives are less likely to fight to defend themselves from external threat.

A FEW years back, I experienced that maddening European bureaucracy firsthand. On a bus ride from London to Bournemouth, the driver stopped after two hours, with Bournemouth less than 45 minutes away, and announced that European Commission regulations forbade him from driving any longer without a 45-minute rest break. That enforced stop raised the same question that pops into my mind every time I’m asked by airport security to remove my shoes and belt: How can people tolerate this idiocy?

The defeated European constitution, which ran to more than 1,000 pages of numbing detail about everything, including the permissible size of ball bearings, was the classic expression, to quote Ajami again, “of the technocratic model of the European states, where a bureaucratic elite disposes of public policy with scant regard for the popular will.” In the Spirit of Laws, Montesquieu described the interplay between the laws and institutions of a particular society and the character of the citizenry. Monarchies, for instance, emphasize honor, while democratic societies stress virtue. And modern government by bureaucracy – something Montesquieu was spared from witnessing – fosters passivity.

It’s worth adding here that, while Obama may love the European way, and is clearly seeking to turn America into a European style society and economy, he’s not showing any love for Europe itself.  Der Spiegel, perhaps to avoid feeling slighted, acknowledges Obama’s obvious coldness towards European leaders, but excuses it by saying that he’s acting that way only because Europe is doing so well, Obama can (and must) focus his attentions elsewhere:

Obama may have made six brief trips to Europe during his first year in office, but the European Union has slipped far down on his priority list. The Europeans are none too pleased. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero defiantly told a confidant that the US shouldn’t forget that Europe is “an economic power and an important political actor.”

But Obama’s decision to cancel is hardly surprising. For starters, there are no fires in Europe right now that Obama needs to attend to. With his popularity falling at home, Obama needs to focus on delivering results in the US. Right now, the last thing he needs is more European photo ops without concrete results.

From Obama’s perspective, that is exactly what the EU-US summit would have been like. “The Europeans shouldn’t be surprised,” says Annette Heuser of the Washington office of the Bertelsmann Stiftung, a German think tank. “They turned this summit into a show rather than finding issues — like energy policy — where both have a common interest in working together.”

This analysis was a rather funny thing to read considering that the same online edition of Der Spiegel reported that the Euro is collapsing and several European states are on the verge of bankruptcy:

The problems facing Greece are just the beginning. The countries belonging to Europe’s common currency zone are drifting further and further apart, and national bankruptcies are a distinct possibility. Brussels is faced with a number of choices, none of them good.

Men like Wilhelm Nölling, former member of the German Central Bank Council, and Wilhelm Hankel, an economics professor critical of the euro, have been out of the spotlight for years. In the 1990s, they fought against the introduction of the common currency, even calling on Germany’s high court to prevent the creation of the euro zone. But none of it worked.

[snip]

Is the euro’s high flight over now too? The news these days is alarming. It’s causing a commotion on financial markets and intense discussion in capitals across Europe, as well as in Frankfurt, seat of the European Central Bank (ECB).

[snip]

Accruing debt is becoming increasingly expensive for other countries in the euro zone as well, among them Portugal and Spain. The southern members of the euro zone are especially being eyed with mistrust. Speculators are betting that bonds will continue to fall and that, eventually, the countries won’t be able to borrow any more money at all. State bankruptcies are seen as a possibility.

All of which leads to the obvious question:  How serious does it have to get in Europe before Obama starts paying attention?

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Comments

  1. yara says

    two probably extraneous thoughts:
    1.  I’ve been gone for a long while and haven’t kept up with it, but I remember growing up that the the fee for license plates was written into the Louisiana constitution.  Everytime they needed to raise the fee, they had to amend the constitution.
    2.  California = Greece ?

  2. Charles Martel says

    “How serious does it have to get in Europe before Obama starts paying attention?”

    The answer, Book, is that he has been paying attention, but realizes that he lacks both the intellect and the fortitude to address Europe’s problems. So, he elects to do nothing until events force his hand. It will be yet another Bush Moment: “The genesis of the problems in Europe occurred long before I was elected, so the best I can do is play clean-up. I will meet with my best and brightest to fashion a reaction—uh, a bold series of initiatives—to address the current crisis.”

    Obama is totally incapable of dealing with any crisis. What we have to hope for is that our republic can hang on for another three years until this narcissistic misfit is hurled out of office.  

  3. Al says

    I must agree with Charles that if the nations of the EU start defaulting in domino fashion, Obama will blame Bush and call for bold initiatives. Said initiatives would be announced at some unidentified date in the unknown future.  But I really doubt that Obama is paying any atttention to the potential European collapse because he hasn’t the least clue of what is going on.
    Now, Soros might. He is the guy who needs to be interogated, I mean interviewed.
    Al

  4. SADIE says

    Rhett Butler Obama says:  “Personally, my dear, I don’t give a damn”
    He has surrounded himself with mirrors – a house of mirrors. I suspect that Americans will not tolerate having their life savings converted to the Yen. I am hearing rustling even from ultra libs who are starting to feel financially threatened.  The is an ill wind blowing and it’s not just weather on the east coast.
     

  5. says

    “On a bus ride from London to Bournemouth, the driver stopped after two hours, with Bournemouth less than 45 minutes away, and announced that European Commission regulations forbade him from driving any longer without a 45-minute rest break.”

    In the U.S., there are hours-on-duty regulations for both airline and railroad crews and for truckers; probably bus drivers as well.  Two hours doesn’t seem long enough to require a 45-minute break, but maybe the bus didn’t originate in London but at some further point, and the driver had already been at the wheel for several hours.

    I’m the last person in the world to defend bureaucracy, but this may not be the best example in the world of irrational bureaucratic behavior.

  6. Mike Devx says

     
    > I must agree with Charles that if the nations of the EU start defaulting in domino fashion, Obama will blame Bush and call for bold initiatives. Said initiatives would be announced at some unidentified date in the unknown future.

    Obama: “The time has come for bold initiatives to stave off this crisis.  That is why I am proposing another round of big government solutions, because they are all I know, and all I believe in.  Leadership in crisis requires admitting that we’ve been doing doesn’t work, so therefore I am going to blame Bush again, and promote my usual big government solutions again, because we must fix the problems we face with bold new initiatives.  I promise to work together with everyone in a spirit of teamwork and bipartisanship, and if they are obstructionist, I will tell all of you how evil, sick and twisted and worthless they are, because they’re always evil, sick and twisted, aren’t they?  That’s why in  the spirit of bipartisanship, I guarantee I will work together, in good faith, with these monstrous, nauseating, worthless idiots who have never contributed anything worthwhile to any discussion.”

    Let’s make sure we don’t feel any schaudenfreude over Europe’s fate.  We’re not THAT far behind them on the slope downward.   The financial situation on our own entitlements – especially health care, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security – are beyond ridiculous and hopeless.  The American people don’t appear to grasp the horrifying significance of how massively the entitlements debt is going to balloon.

    If you, running your family’s finances, are staring at a $10,000 credit card bill each month, you take austerity steps to try to fix the problem.  But if you’re looking at a $500,000 balance, and a minimum payment that is taking 85% of your paycheck each month (which is where America will be in about two decades, depending, on our entitlement debts compared to the GDP), perhaps your eyes glaze over and you simply cannot deal with it – so you go out and charge another $10,000 on that card for those spiffy new toys.  Because, when you’re so far behind and there’s no hope, why bother?  Perhaps we’re all waiting for the Magic Fiducial Fairy to swoop in from the Tinkerbell Palace and erase all of our problems with a wave of the magic wand.

  7. says

    David Foster (#7)

    The only thing that inclines me away from that generosity, David, is the stories routinely emerging from England about people drowning within feet of rescue workers who are barred by Health and Safety rules from entering the water, or old people who die on the floor because orderlies are barred by the Health and Safety rules from picking them up.  The rules are utterly insane and inflexible, and the British follow them slavishly, only to complain later when the terrible consequences catch up with them.

  8. says

    Agree that there is a plague of idiotic rule-making and rule-following in the UK. Worst example I’ve seen was a WWII fighter pilot in a nursing home, who fell down and the (male) attendant refused to pick him up because he exceeded the contractual weight limit that the attendant was required to handle. (Don’t remember how heavy he was, but his weight was nothing out of the ordinary)

    What makes this particularly ironic was that the guy had been a Gloster Gladiator pilot. The Gladiator was an actual *biplane*, a quasi-obsolete aircraft that really had no place in WWII air combat, but was being used because of dire necessity.

  9. expat says

    No schadenfreude about the economic problems, but I must to confess to a few grins over they treatment by Obama. After enduring 8 years of cheap shot criticism about Bush and America, I have no sympathy. After all, we all warned them, and they chose to get their news from the NYT.

  10. jj says

    I’m somewhat torn.  I am unable to completely blame Obama for seemingly not caring about Europe, because I often find myself muttering imprecations and not caring about Europe, either.  I occasionally find myself thinking that Europe has primarily been a pain in America’s ass and wallet for pretty much long enough.
     
    The standard European attitude is more or less perfectly expressed by Zapatero, reminding us all how important Europe is – to us! –  and what an economic power it is.  I find myself thinking that he can go stand in front of his bathroom mirror (provided his bathroom has a modern appurtenance such as a mirror) and tell himself how important Europe is – I don’t need to hear it.  America doesn’t need to hear it.
     
    Europe’s solution to the witless tragedy that was WWI was to wait – which the French and British were openly saying in 1916 – for America to step in and save their asses.  And then afterward, forgive all their debts.  And everybody forgets, and the history books don’t much teach, that America rejected the League of Nations and turned to an isolationist policy because America was, frankly, goddamed fed up – particularly at England and France – in the wake of that war.  First with the automatic presumption by them that we’d save them, and then with their subsequent behavior.  We died for them, forgave their debts, and they responded by imposing reparations on Germany and helping themselves to German territory both in mainland Europe and overseas.  When Wilson came home with a peace that denied the defeated their right of self-determination, made a joke out of his 14 Points, honored the secret treaties he’d denounced, and enlarged the British, French, Italian and Japanese empires by a million square miles and tens of millions of subjects, well – that was it.   Americans concluded that their 116,000 sons had died for nothing – and invited Europe to go to hell in its own fashion for the 20’s.
     
    Then,26 years later, Europe did it again.  Those of you who’ve read Churchill’s history of the war will be fully aware that the primary British/French strategy was to drag America in to rescue them from their own stupidity again.  In speeches Churchill was already being careful to include the United States in his dire warnings as early as spring of 1940 – a year and half before Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.  (“the whole world – including the United States…” would go down into darkness.  Really?  What was Hitler going to do to us in 1940?  Or indeed at any time?)  So there we went, to die for them again.  And forgive their debts again.  And feed them and get them back on their feet – again.
     
    Followed by 50 years of protecting them all.  Idiots who don’t know any history ask how come Europe has had “free” (yeah, right) health care all these years when America doesn’t may want to take into account that no country in Europe has had to have an army, navy, or air force to protect themselves since 1945 – America provided it.   In essence, America has been paying for the Dutch and Swedish health care systems, by allowing them not to have a line for military expenses in their budgets – for generations!
     
    I find myself in the very, very, very – inexpressibly – strange position of having no problem at all with something Obama’s doing.  I don’t actually give a damn what Zapatero thinks about anything, at any time.  I have had it with the concept that Europe’s policy is to wait for America to bail them out.  They’ve been doing that since 1916 – and I personally am bored.  The old “special” relationship sure has been special: America pays, everybody else benefits.  Endlessly.  A one-way street forever.
     
    Ignoring Europe for a few years is fine by me.  And of course, we aren’t.  The Air Force is still based in England, Germany, Italy and Spain.  The 6th fleet still lives in the Med.  We’re still keeping an eye on Putin.  A free service for our “allies.”  In fact we pay the bastards rent for the airfields and bases we use to protect them!
     
    I don’t mind not talking to them for a while.  At all.

  11. says

    I agree with everything you say about Europe, JJ.  The problem, as I see it, is that if Europe goes either full socialist or full Islamist, she becomes our enemy, and that’s just not good.  Also, if she becomes full Islamist, I’d be really, really sad to see the beautiful remnants of her culture — the buildings, the books, the paintings — destroyed.

  12. suek says

    >>The problem, as I see it, is that if Europe goes either full socialist or full Islamist, she becomes our enemy, and that’s just not good.  >>
     
    True – but I’m not sure it really matters.  In either case, she wouldn’t be able to harm us.  Even the iron fist of the USSR eventually failed because their economic system couldn’t match ours.
     
    >>Also, if she becomes full Islamist, I’d be really, really sad to see the beautiful remnants of her culture — the buildings, the books, the paintings — destroyed.>>
     
    That would indeed be a loss.  But can we afford the beauty?

  13. gpc31 says

    suek –a valid question about “being able to afford the beauty” and am hesitant to disagree with you because of your unerringly cogent posts, but…we are talking about western civilization here.  Florence alone is infinitely precious.  We in the west are already forgetting our heritage.  Barbarism consists in forgetting that you have forgot.  Allow Eurabia to destroy the remnants and we are done for…a new dark age.

  14. says

    The Hagia Sophia is still in Muslim hands. Dark Ages don’t come just because Muslims occupy centers of learning and advancement. It comes when there is nothing immediately there to replace the destruction of Muslim conquests.

    Europe can fall but Western civilization will still be around in North America and Australia.

  15. suek says

    gpc31…
     
    Remember the song “Freedom’s just another name for nothing left to lose” ?
    It took years for me to understand that it’s true.  As long as you have a love/need/attachment to something, there’s a chain on you.  You aren’t totally free – you have to act with that chain in mind, which may restrict your actions.  That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s true never the less.  As long as we are attached to our cultural history in europe, our acts may be constrained.  That also may not normally  be a bad thing – but there may come a point when it _is_ a bad thing.  I hope it never does reach that point, but the fact is, all of those beautiful accomplishments are mere physical things, and the desire to keep them whole may result in our being held hostage if we want too much to keep them intact.  If we reach that point, I hope we’ll be strong enough to let them go – if that’s what it takes.  I don’t disagree with you about the new dark age either.  I really hope we don’t get there – but if Europe won’t act to ensure its own survival, what should we do?  What options do we have if the muslims take over? (and I do believe that that is their intent, and if they succeed they will indeed destroy all that is overtly Christian.   The socialists will either knuckle under or be eliminated. )
     
     

  16. Charles Martel says

    If Europe were to go Muslim, I have no doubt that the continent’s splendors would be defaced, vandalized or destroyed by Allah’s semi-civilized minions. So, why not pull a William Randolph Hearst and start carting all of Europe’s art over to America for safekeeping? There’s so much art there that we could install a pigeon-painted piazza and a coupla swell nekkid Renaissance statues in every U.S. city of more than 50,000 people.

    Heck, we could reassemble Eyetalian hill towns and invite our liberal friends to go live in them because they are “colorful.” (We wouldn’t let our friends know until they’d signed an unbreakable contract that the colorful Eyetalian houses don’t have modern plumbing or appliances, and that there are no supermarkets nearby. But just to show that we’re compassionate, we could arrange to drop off shipments of corn cobs every week or so at the town gates. I’d love to watch that free-for-all!)

  17. Mike Devx says

    jj said:
    > Followed by 50 years of protecting them all.  Idiots who don’t know any history ask how come Europe has had “free” (yeah, right) health care all these years when America doesn’t may want to take into account that no country in Europe has had to have an army, navy, or air force to protect themselves since 1945 – America provided it.   In essence, America has been paying for the Dutch and Swedish health care systems, by allowing them not to have a line for military expenses in their budgets – for generations!

    I keep conveniently forgetting this fact that jj points out.   We are culpable in Europe’s demise, because we struck a devil’s bargain with them.  We would provide all  – or most – of their military needs, so that they need never start another World War among themselves.

    And thus they’ve spent all that additional money, that under any normal circumstances would have gone to the military and national security, on social programs.  And even with that boon, their social programs have them teetering on the very brink of economic collapse and disaster.

    Perhaps a country’s soul can be lost, when its people have no responsibility for protecting their own identity, their sovereignty, their borders.  Perhaps we should not have struck that devil’s bargain.  Perhaps we should never do such a thing, ever again.

  18. SADIE says

    jj’s words have been marinating in my brain all day and while I understand that the devil’s bargain basement price was in exchange for keeping an American presence in Europe to influence political decisions and whatever perks accompany such foreign investments – it has long ago ceased to provide a measurable dividend.
    While Europe has not gone up in flames post WWII (actually, it did in the former Czech Republic) it has instead invited the fuel for it’s demise – it’s so very ‘Vichy’ of them. Clearly, they have lived on the dole via American dollars and America became Europe’s (nanny states) enabler. Time to cut the apron strings and take away the ‘matches’.
     

  19. Charles Martel says

    Somebody said that as far as hegemons go, the United States of America has been the oddest, most benevolent of them in history. After rescuing Europe from Hitler and, later, communism, the U.S. deliberately set about creating a peaceful, democratic economic rival. It would have been as though Rome had not only rebuilt Carthage after defeating her, but agreed to protect her as well against all current and future enemies.

    The problem is that we did it for the Europeans, history’s most prolific producers and dispensers of industrial-strength vileness: Marxism, fascism, anti-Semitism, and a deadening of the soul and joy so deep that they cannot even be stirred to have children.

    Talk about pearls before swine. I’m with jj on this: let the insufferable bastards do what they do so well, which is to piss away the greatest patrimony in history. I’ll help SADIE hang the Mona Lisa on her living room wall, and we can all sip espressos sitting dockside looking for glimpses of rescued European art as workers unload it onto our shores.

  20. says

    The world would be a better place if the US went expansionist and annexed various places like Haiti, Canada, Mexico, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.
     
    It’s not like it would cost more than what it costs the US now a days.

  21. BrianE says

    “2 famous quotes from George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright and winner of the Nobel price for Literature, about the Master-Prophet Muhammad (saw):

    George Bernard Shaw
    (1856 – 1950), Irish writer, playwright and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925 said:

    “I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied him – the wonderful man and in my opinion far from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the Savior of Humanity.

    I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness: I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today.”

    (G.B. Shaw, The Genuine Islam, Vol.1, NO. 81936)

    —-

    Europe is beginning to be enamored of the creed of Muhammad. In the next century I may go still further in recognizing the utility of that creed in solving its problems, and it is in this sense that you must understand my prediction.

    (A collection of writings of some of the Eminent Scholars’ p.77, by the Working Muslim Mission, 1993 edition)”

    I haven’t verified these quotes, and are represented as Shaw quotes by a Muslim. Shaw, hostile to religion, recognized the political philosophy of Islam would make a dandy vehicle to advance his twisted agenda.

  22. suek says

    I did some searching on Shaw and “Genuine Islam” and came up with almost 100% islamic sites.  On Ask.com, someone commented that they doubted it was real, as it was not available anywhere at any booksellers.  The first response said it could be found in the NYC library, and gave a catalog number.  If you happen to know anyone who is in the neighborhood…!!
     
    Wasn’t Shaw homosexual?  perhaps he wasn’t aware that he would have been a dead man in an islamic society.  That is, assuming his view of islam was actually favorable…

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