Death Throes of Europe More Serious Than America’s Ailments
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
My column last week described the shocking dimensions of America’s economic collapse. But much of the rest of the developed world is faring no better.
Japan is magnificent in its stoicism in the face of earthquake, tidal wave and nuclear disintegration; the unflinching durability of that noble and ancient people. But their dignity and virtue will not be translated into a resumption of economic growth — not until voters find a way to overturn the country’s collective, ponderous leadership structures. And the relentless aging of the Japanese is even more of a problem than the same trend is in Europe.
And what a dismal fate attends Europe itself. The continent had rebuilt well from the devastation of the Second World War, and subsisted uncomplicatedly under the protection of the American umbrella until the leadership of great Americans from Roosevelt and Truman and Marshall and Eisenhower to Nixon, Kissinger and Reagan brought the fraudulent but mortal rivalry of Soviet Communism to a peaceful end.
But as the accelerating collapse of Greece shows, the brave new world of Europe, based financially on an attempt to monetize the post-Nazi guilt of Germany, the ineluctable natural richness of France, and the thrift and diligence of the Dutch and Scandinavians, for the benefit of Europe’s more carefree states, has collapsed — a process accelerated by Europeans’ dyspeptic failure to reproduce, and a culturally suicidal replacement, throughout Europe, of the unborn with often unassimilated Muslim immigrants.
Europe’s death-throes are more convulsive and irreparable than the ailments of America, which are, after all, only policy errors, made in America and corrigible in America. Europe now requires nothing less than a Come-to-Jesus recognition of the necessity of an increased natural birthrate, and a re-jigged balance upwards of the ratio of those who work against those who receive benefit.
All the talk of the possible surpassing of America by China — as was the subject of a debate this week in Toronto among my learned friends Henry Kissinger, Niall Ferguson, and Fareed Zakaria — is bunk. China is a largely peasant country, with a completely corrupt, autocratic regime, a 50% command economy, and reported economic statistics that cannot be believed or verified. The nation has pulled 200-million or more people out of antiquarian poverty into contemporary levels of benefits and services.
This is remarkable and promising. But as a full-scale rival to the might of America, it represents, at this point, merely another downward step in the formidability of America’s challengers for world leadership since the First World War, from the deadly threats of a Nazi German Europe and Soviet Communism, to the over-eager claims of industrial Japan, and the parlor-room affectations of a pacifistic Europe; and now a blusteringly confident China. Washington has seen it all before.
American purposefulness will return, after a period of soulful quietude and reappraisal, when the tornado of stagflation has torn through the socio-financial trailer parks of the country. Of the current emerging candidates for the Republican nomination for the presidency of the United States, several already are making appropriate noises about the state of the dollar and the resurrection of American economic strength, and about revisiting the Bush-Obama docile acquiescence to the nuclear militarization of Iran.
Newt Gingrich’s proposal for yet another “national conversation” about debt is sinking as quickly as Donald Trump’s still-Birther agitations. Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann and possibly Rick Santorum are making plausible statements of their determination to face these issues, which have been ignored or exacerbated by the last three presidents. Tim Pawlenty, after a lightweight start, has come in with a serious economic program. So has Congressman Paul Ryan. All of these candidates are people of strong religious and patriotic principles that may sometimes seem unworldly, but are a reassuring anchor after the cynicism, know-nothingism and quasi-subversion of recent presidents.
The front-runner, Willard Milton Romney, might be able to clinch it if he used his real names. The country could take Jimmy Carter and Newt as Speaker of the House, but Mitt is a four-letter word too far for what the British would call the Ministry of Silly Names. Even with a name spruce-up, he will have problems with the Massachusetts health plan he put in as state governor, and I doubt if America is ready for a president who drove from Boston to Montreal with the family dog on the roof of the car. Though the nation is not screaming for an early return of the Bushes (and I am not the only person here who is suspicious of U.S. ex-prosecutors who are 100 pounds overweight), Jeb Bush of Florida and Chris Christie of New Jersey are able and credible men who could make the brace strongly if they wished. Mitch Daniels and Haley Barbour unfortunately have passed on the GOP race, but could be available for high office in a new administration.
Somebody will win the Republican nomination, and while it will not likely be a popular tribune such as Reagan, a crafty political mastermind such as Nixon, or a world-historic hero on the scale of Eisenhower, it will probably not be blunderbuss like John McCain or Bob Dole. Whoever does win will face an incumbent who has led mighty America down into, but not through, the Valley of the Shadow of Decline of Great Powers, where it did not wish to go and does not belong. That nominee should win.
Excerpted from the National Post.