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:
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.
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).
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?