FrontPage Magazine’s symposium on Europe is well worth reading. The issue is whether there is a coming “clash of civilizations” between America and Europe. For what it’s worth my take on this is as follows: (1) there is no impending clash in the strong sense — intense mutual hatred, warfare or the constant threat of warfare, etc. but (2) a major rift is developing and it will get worse if America remains true to its values. The rift is the result of a European project that is socialist and internationalist in character. It is the internationalist quality that is problematic. If Europe wants to be socialist, that’s bad news for Euopeans but no major concern of ours. But, perhaps sensing that a pacifist/socialist Europe cannot effectively compete with the U.S., the Europeans want to dictate to us on issues ranging from air pollution control to the death penalty. Most of all they want to constrain our military power and they want us to submit to their version of international law. If we resist this package (and it is far from clear that we will — we probably won’t if the Democrats obtain control), then the rift will grow and, though not amounting to a clash of civilizations, will be quite significant. It should not, however, impede our efforts in the real clash of civilizations — the one with the Islamofascists. The Europeans will have plenty of incentive to cooperate in exchanging intelligence and (as long as we retain control of our own foreign policy) we will be able to do the real fighting with or without the Europeans. Our key allies in the fighting will be non-western European nations. And the key battleground in our rivalry with the old western Europe will be the new eastern Europe. In the short term, we should at least hold our own in the struggle for those “hearts and minds” (see the photos that Rocket Man posted this weekend of President Bush’s trip to Eastern Europe). In the long run, Europe has the advantage if it can make its socialist project succeed. But in the long run, it is doubtful that this project will succeed. As most of the FrontPage symposium members agree, the EU process will be a bumpy one, and even if it goes smoothly the resulting bloated socialist monolith is unlikely to deliver well enough to sustain itself over the long haul.
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