Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The European / American split: Permanent?

So claims Victor Davis Hanson, in a soundly researched and conclusive essay (of the type so rarely found to be written by those favored left-wing intellectuals like Dowd, Krugman, et al..). Some of the highlights:

Americans tend to wish for less government and more personal freedom. They are more religious, aggressive, and acquisitive. Europeans instead prefer statism and an enforced equality of result. Far more of them are irreligious, pacifist, and more interested in leisure than in national progress and personal wealth. Now that they have no fear of the Soviet army, they have little need for us — or so they think.

The shaky European Union is as much driven by anti-Americanism as by pro-Europeanism. Only with unity comes the hope to rebuff the United States effectively. In response, it is far more likely that Americans will envision Germany and France less as friends than as rivals. Since our own European ancestors tamed the frontier in order to craft a nation that would in many ways be an antithesis to their home continent, this is not a big stretch...our past shows frequent antipathy, punctuated several times by violent hostilities: most recently in 1898, 1914, and 1941

Now that the shared purpose of holding back the Russian bear has faded, perhaps these endemic rifts between our relationship/cultures are simply resurfacing, now that it is "safe" for them to come back out. That's OK, obvious demographic trends are strongly in America's favor:

The United States is rapidly becoming a universal nation. Continuing immigration, our democratic society, our ethnic and racial assimilation, our common popular culture, our meritocracy, and shared material dreams have created equal and unified Americans out of nearly all the tribes and races of the globe. Europe, for all its socialist pretenses, is a much more stratified and narrow society, plagued with unassimilated minorities. It is hard to imagine a Colin Powell, Alberto Gonzales, or Condoleezza Rice running the key ministries of France, Italy, or Belgium....For four out of ten Americans today, their physical and spiritual origins have nothing to do with Europe — they are offspring of Asia, Latin America, or Africa. Demographic and immigration realities mean that our ostensible blood link with Europe will continue to thin.

But how about that great European quality of life? Well ,the Europeans themselves put paid to that illusion:

The differences between American and European material wealth are now marked and growing — Americans increasingly enjoy larger homes, more cars, more appliances, cheaper food and energy, more advanced health care, and more disposable income. A recent European visitor to my farm, a member of the professional and affluent class, was stunned when I showed him the new suburban houses and multiple cars of first generation immigrants from Mexico living nearby — in the poorest section of one of the poorest inland counties of rural California. “They seem wealthier than I am!” he exclaimed. In a global sense they really are, even without the subsidized train tickets, day care payments, and a government-guaranteed six-week vacation.

Hanson has a number of steps he believes are prudent to take at this time given the status of American/European relations; some samples would be -

...Withdraw as many American troops from the Continent as is not injurious to the global responsibilities of the United States. That will remind the Europeans that anti- American rhetoric has consequences...
...Allow dissident Europeans to enjoy fast-track immigration to the United States. Welcoming folks from Europe who wish to join the American experience will send a powerful reminder to European elites that there were reasons their own people left their shores in the first place...
...Quietly cultivate friendships with eastern European countries, and encourage stronger relations with countries that have signaled shared interests with the U.S., like Britain, Denmark, Holland, and Italy, all of which have reason to be wary of the French- German axis.

Simply one of the best essays on transcontinental relations I have ever read; please read it all here at The American Enterprise: http://www.victorhanson.com/articles/hanson092705.html

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