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Right Intention: Europe Bashing

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Europe Bashing

I always enjoy a good Europe bashing column. Mark Steyn doesn't disappoint:

But either way the notion that it's a superpower in the making is preposterous. Most administration officials subscribe to one of two views: a) Europe is a smugly irritating but irrelevant backwater; or b) Europe is a smugly irritating but irrelevant backwater where the whole powder keg's about to go up.

For what it's worth, I incline to the latter position. Europe's problems -- its unaffordable social programs, its deathbed demographics, its dependence on immigration numbers that no stable nation (not even America in the Ellis Island era) has ever successfully absorbed -- are all of Europe's making. By some projections, the EU's population will be 40 percent Muslim by 2025. Already, more people each week attend Friday prayers at British mosques than Sunday service at Christian churches -- and in a country where Anglican bishops have permanent seats in the national legislature.

I rarely quibble with anything Mark Steyn writes, but I will here. Europe's problems are partially the fault of America. No, I didn't just join the club of "Blame America First Democrats". I'm liberal, but not of the self loathing variety. But America does have some responsibility. And that is because we made Europe dependent on us for the last 60+ years through generous military protection. In any entitlement program, a certain percentage of the recipients lose their incentive to improve their lot and simply come to rely on the entitlement. Resources and efforts will not be spent duplicating what the recipient gets for free. In the case of Europe, they no longer understand the cost of having a free, safe society because the US heavily subsidizes it. Scarce resources that should be spent on defense are instead spent on trying to create their version of utopia through overly generous social programs. If Europe had to provide for its own defense, they would be forced to cut the social programs, which would liberalize the economy. If Europe wanted to keep the social programs, they would still have to liberalize the economy to generate enough resources for both. Either way Europe benefits. No matter how you slice it, the single best thing America could do for Europe is to cut her loose and force it to defend itself.


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