Most Europeans would not use any of those words. They have transcended religion and patriotism, and shucked off old moral taboos, to the point that it seems nothing is sacred, not even life. The numbers appear to bear that out. When asked if religion is very important to them, Germans said yes just 21 percent of the time. But that made Germany a highly spiritual state, because in Britain only 16 percent, France 14 percent, and Scandinavia less than 10 percent said religion was important in their lives.
The response in the U.
Similarly, 40 percent of Americans report that they go to church or synagogue every week, while just 10 percent of Protestant Europeans say that they attend church once a month. The same is true of civil religion, the secular values citizens deem sacred. Almost 80 percent of Americans think it important that democratic ideals and institutions be spread more broadly around the world.
Less than 40 percent of Europeans think that is important or even necessarily positive. In sum, a postmodern, post-Christian civilization has returned to the pagan values of group cohesion and collective hedonism, and elevated peace and prosperity from the status of blessings to the status of idols. The sterling successes and worrisome weaknesses of contemporary Europe might be of no broader interest except for the fact that Europe is no island.
The U. One might assume that a powerful, out-of-control America launching preemptive wars would be just the impetus Europeans need to forge a common foreign and security policy. But so far the opposite has occurred. Europe has splintered under the pressure. But at least Bill Clinton maintained good relations with his counterparts over in Europe. He did it through charm, caution, and diplomatic deception. That is, Clinton courted favor by signing every protocol Europe favored in the knowledge none would win Senate ratification. Indeed, some agreements he never bothered to submit to Congress at all.
George W. Bush, on the other hand, candidly stated his opposition to the Kyoto Protocol on global warning, the Rio Pact on bio-diversity, the treaty banning landmines, the International Criminal Court, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. To Europeans it seemed that post-Cold War America was reverting to a go-it-alone, cowboy diplomacy that placed power and growth above humane global values. The entire EU declared September 14, a day of mourning.
Yet, almost from the start Europeans expressed certain misgivings. Europeans cringed to hear the new Bush Doctrine, arrogating to the U. Finally, Bush showed none of the patience and skill his father displayed during the Gulf War. Bush Sr. Bush Jr. Even in Britain defenders of the Atlantic partnership are a distinct minority. Yet its tension with the U. China, India, and still formidable Japan are already fierce competitors for economic and soft power, and could easily surpass the EU in hard power.
While labor costs rise and productivity stagnates in Europe, low labor costs and soaring productivity turn Asia into the Workshop of the World. Their exports of cheap but high-quality goods have created such balance of payments surpluses that Asian coffers overflow with dollars and euros. Asians invest much of that cash in Western government bonds, which means that U.
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In short, Europe like the U. What can the EU do?
Pull up the drawbridge of tariff protectionism and make Europe a castle? That would only hasten its retreat into the inferiority medieval Europe suffered vis-a-vis Asia. Eurocrats are well aware of this Asian Challenge. They invoked it to justify plunging ahead with the euro. But now they must decide what to do with the EU and euro in hopes of remaining competitive. The Islamic challenge begs the most fundamental question: What is Europe? Europeans themselves cannot say. EU membership criteria stress common values, not geographic, ethnic, or religious identity.
And what about the Muslims whose ancestors have dwelt in the Balkans for six hundred years? Is Europe a strictly institutional reality based on EU membership, then? Or a state of mind based on those values consciously inculcated? But do Europeans really want to transcend the nation? Their embarrassing dilemma concerning immigrants, especially Muslim ones, suggests that hypocrisy lurks at the heart of the EU project.
While determining the number of Muslims in each country is difficult and one finds varying figures, as of official estimates of Muslims as a percent of the population were as follows: France 7. Not high percents, you may think, but Europeans think otherwise. Indeed, prior to an abashed reform made in , an ethnic German refugee from, say, the Ukraine who spoke no German could get automatic citizenship, while an ethnic Turk born in Germany and fluent in its language and culture could almost never gain citizenship. Indeed, Europeans have consistently regarded immigrants as a cultural threat, a drain on welfare budgets, and a danger one-third of all prison inmates in Germany are foreign born long before Islamic terrorists infiltrated their cities.
But postwar Europe desperately needed workers. So huge numbers emigrated from North Africa and Turkey over the s, 60s, and 70s.
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The oil shock and recession after slowed down immigration, but it picked up again in the s. All told, Germany absorbed The other trend that has made immigration an existential concern and source of panic is the concomitant plunge of fertility among native Europeans to the lowest in the world. In Germany To put it another way, most Europeans will then be older than the average life expectancy of people years ago. The result will be that Caucasians people of European stock , who numbered 31 percent of humankind in , will likely plummet to just 11 percent by the year , while Caucasians in Europe will number just 7.
To be sure, massive die-offs have occurred periodically, but they were due to famine, epidemic diseases, or warfare. Europeans today, at least west of Russia, are as well fed, healthy, and peaceful as any civilization in history.
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They are simply choosing not to have babies. Studies done by national and EU institutions point to the decline of marriage and family values, lenient divorce and abortion laws, ubiquitous contraception, the choice by women to pursue careers, and the preference of couples for two incomes rather than children. But morals aside, it is clear many Europeans no longer consider children a part of their pursuit of happiness and may even find them a hindrance.
Moreover, Europeans are going to need immigrant workers all the more as their own population rapidly ages. So far, efforts to deal with Muslim immigration have been singularly unsuccessful because efforts to assimilate, or tolerate, or repress Muslim cultural habits have fomented protests and race riots among immigrants and nativists alike in France, England, and Germany, while neo-fascist splinter parties have arisen in France, Italy, and Austria that promise to halt or reverse immigration.
Yet, even they do not pose the most immediate Islamic challenge. That distinction goes to the innocent, proper, and sensible application by Turkey to become a member of the EU.
The Turks have been begging for years to be admitted to Europe on numerous grounds. Turkey included more or less of the Balkan peninsula for six centuries. Hundreds of thousands of Turks already live in the EU. Turkey was a charter member of NATO. Turkey is a secular, not an Islamic Republic. But even that is somewhat disingenuous since the political role of the Turkish military has been precisely to keep Islamic parties from taking power in Istanbul.
The unspoken truth is that Europeans are just terrified of granting 60 million Muslim Turks the right to travel and live across Europe. We began by contrasting Europe in with Europe in Let us conclude by invoking a grander timeline, that of European civilization itself. Once upon a time the term Europa referred only to a beautiful maiden in Greek mythology who attracted the wandering eye of Zeus, or else to a directional term referring to the Greek side of the Hellespont as opposed to the side on the peninsula Greeks called Asia Minor.
The Roman Empire, encompassing parts of three continents around the Mediterranean, had no concept of Europe, and the Germanic tribes whose invasions dissolved the empire based at Rome certainly had no concept of Europe as a geographical, cultural, religious, linguistic, racial, or political entity. Nor did the Arabs, who swept out of the desert in the seventh and eighth centuries of the common era full of zeal for Allah and his prophet Mohammed.
That victory allowed the heirs of Charles the Hammer to imagine a destiny for the Franks, indeed for all the Christian tribes, greater than mere survival. Chief among them was his tall, imposing grandson, also named Charles. Exceptionally skilled at war, diplomacy, administration, and court politics, he created by sheer force of will a great empire that among his own subjects earned him the epithet Charles the Great, to wit Karl der Grosse or Charlemagne.
The glory and booty he won in battle kept the lords and knights satisfied. His religious donations and support for public morality won over the clergy. His protection of commerce and administration of royal law pleased the merchants. His reign was immensely popular. Moreover, though not himself literate, Charlemagne gathered around him the most learned monks from the British Isles, Italy, France, and the Low Countries. He founded schools, patronized art, and presided over a Little Renaissance in the midst of the Dark Ages.
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