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None are so blind as those who will not see

In one of the most utterly wrong headed articles I have ever seen in the Daily Telegraph, called Watch out America, the 7st EU weakling may kick sand in your face by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard posting from Brussels (naturally), he would have us believe that, in response to criticisms from the USA that the EU is “a status quo power that resists and resents being hurried into a turbulent new post-Cold War era”:

…Europe is arguably the world’s most dynamic political bloc today. While the US borders have changed little since 1848, the EU is about to swallow eastern Europe up to the edge of Russia and Ukraine.

The EU is about to swallow the poison pill of the basket case post-communist agricultural economies of Eastern Europe, eager to feed at the massively subsidized trough of protectionist Europe and Evans-Pritchard holds this up as evidence of dynamism?

But EU officials are quietly confident that the strategic balance will shift as a decade of debt, over-consumption, and ballooning trade deficits catch up with America.


“Nobody wants to see America in difficulty, but there’s a high risk that the Clinton boom is going to end badly. Then we’ll find out if Europe’s slow vessel might not prove to be steadier in the long run.” One day soon, America may wake to find itself facing a wealthy superpower of 470 million people.

The European Union… filled with heavily taxed, highly regulated and subsidy ‘protected’ economies… is going to overtake lower taxed, less regulated and slightly less subsidised USA? Oh give me a break. The whole reason that the ruling classes of Eastern Europe want to join the European Union, is that the EU seeks to lock in the position of the all its political classes, to insulate them from the reality of de-politicised markets and the consequences of that anti-market politics brings.

Eastern European businesses, at least some of them, see subsidy and protection from global competition from the USA and Far East beckoning, voters likewise see membership of the EU as meaning the end of restrictions on their ability to travel, work and reside in the more developed West… a ‘brain drain’ heading west of the best and brightest that the middle European former ‘eastern Bloc’ has to offer will soon ensue (good news if you live in the ‘west’), followed closely by an army of welfare parasites looking to help themselves to taxpayer money in Britain, France, Germany, Denmark, The Low Countries and Italy (extremely bad news of you live in the ‘west’).

The very essence of the EU is stasis and yet paradoxically, it is spreading, like some Nordic legend of winter eternal sends its deadening cold fingers into everything. The only people who really benefit are those who are sucking at the teat of the state and even them only until the curves of the EU’s spectacularly aging demographics and that of its increasing tax burden cross, like some cruxiform tombstone.

The First World used to be ‘The West’ and Japan, the Second World used to be the Socialist Eastern Bloc… soon ‘First World’ will come to mean the USA, Switzerland, Japan (maybe), Canada (maybe), Australia and new Zealand and, if it finally breaks clear of the European suicide pact, Britain and possibly even Ireland. ‘Second World’ will just come to mean sclerotic Europe, forever sidelined by more dynamic economies eleswhere and more assertive polities everywhere.

EU as future ‘superpower’? Don’t make me laugh.

15 comments to None are so blind as those who will not see

  • Russ Lemley

    This article would be hilarious if it wasn’t so plainly wrong. It holds all of the fashionable European worldviews, regardless that no corrobating evidence supports them.

    I’m also amazed at the political equivalence the author displays in comparing actions of the European Parliament to the 1787 US constitutional convention. I don’t know about you, but I would never in my right mind include anything James Madison help create with cross-border police raids in the same sentence.

    I’m also curious if the author would consider the United States as an empire, as many Europeans fashionably believe. If the test of whether a political regime is an empire rests on expanding borders, wouldn’t the EU pass the test?

    It just goes to show that Americans and many Europeans have different ideas as to what constitutes progress.

  • Larry

    Surely Canada, NZ, and Australia are to be counted among the First World…

    Author replies: Yes, of course… duly amended

  • I read that in the Sunday Telegraph and laughed my head off.

    European defence is an oxymoron. Their security threats are to the south and east, not the west, but they seem to have forgotten how geopolitics functions.

    But I am an optimist. I do think that, slowly and surely, they will reform. Remember, free markets are the way forward and the EU cannot arrest the forces of enrichment.

  • Andrew X

    Funny thing is that, while I agree with your analysis, let’s go ahead and assume he is right, and that the EU will supercede the US in power.

    Americans, would be quite taken aback… for about 30 days. Then we would realize that, as our sovereignty will remain secure, due to geography and lots of guns…. guess what EU? All those eternal problems in the world? Now they’re YOURS, doncha know. YOU get to sit on the middle east, YOU get to keep the Indo’s and Paks from nuking each other, YOU get to stop North Korea (or the future equivalent thereof) from attacking it’s neighbors… the whole smack.

    But we will prove quite helpful, really. You will get from North America an endless stream of genuinely helpful carping, criticism, accusations of imperialism, duplicitous deals with your avowed enemies (and you will have avowed enemies, that part of the superpower game, enjoy it), all coupled with an absolute expectation that if WE really need your new found strength, YOU will be basically obligated to provide it immediately and without question, because failure to do so would just be more EU “unilateralism and selfishness”.

    And in all seriousness, were this to actually come true, I think US-EU relations would likely be better than now, for the same reason that many parents get along better with their 28 year old professional children than they do with their 19 year old stay-at-home children who are not sparing with their wisdom of why their parents are so wrong about everything.

    Patronizing? You bet.

    True? You bet.

  • David Carr


    Your optimism is commendable, sir.

    However, it is possible that much of Europe may be beyond help. European polity appears to be deeply anti-reform making the job of even tabling proposed reforms exceedingly difficult for anyone who actually wants and needs to get elected.

    Secondly, even if that were not the case, the rapidly ageing demos may mean that reform is just not possible even if it were desired. Where the hell are European goverments going to get the money to pay ever-spiralling pension commitments and health-care provision?

  • Matthew

    As a loyal American, my sentiments are: Feel free to pass us as a superpower. We do not mind in the least. If your economy becomes more efficient and more productive than ours, then it will benefit all of the world, not just Europe. As for geographical expansion, the wonderful thing about it is that it is voluntary and peaceful. Whether such growth will benefit anyone remains to be seen.

    Lastly, the elites need to get over the ‘bigger is better’ thing. Size helped kill the Soviet Union.

  • ellie

    Andrew X is dead on. Americans don’t really WANT to be responsible for all the hot spots & problems of the world. Take it on, guys; it’s yours! And, by the way, remind me again, what exactly does ‘imperialism’ mean?

  • Kevin

    I have no doubt that the Europhile elites in both the US and Europe are secretly hoping that this is true. So great is their desire for Europe to return to it’s pre-1900’s position in the world, that they will believe the most far-fetched fantasies and ignore any unpleasant reality.

    And reality is, for Europhiles, most unpleasant. Since 1980, the US share of the world’s GDP has increased from around 20% to about 30% and continues to grow. The US has just passed through a “recession” where its GDP continued to grow, albeit at only about 1-2%, while many European economies struggle to show any growth. And there is no one (or two, or three) European country that is able to match even the current, scaled-down version of the US military in both numbers and technology.

    So the Evans-Pritchards of Europe will continue to assert, Kruschev-style, that they will someday bury the arrogant Yanks. And like the Soviets, the world will leave them behind.


  • Walter E. Wallis

    Let’s see – I am old and forgetful – which European leader was it who said “…tear down this wall!”

  • Valentine

    ::And there is no one (or two, or three) European country that is able to match even the current, scaled-down version of the US military in both numbers and technology.

    Whaddya mean the next 2 or 3? try the next 15 countries COMBINED!

  • David,

    I should have clarified my statement. Yes, the EU is probably incapable of reform, but like all obstacles, it will be eroded and bypassed by people who wish to make money and take steps to ignore the state.

    Free markets cannot be dammed, only held back for a short while before they find a gap and start enriching people’s lives with renewed vigour.

  • Joe Moffitt

    Military power is relative. If a nation has an army of one thousand men it is a superpower if all of its neighbors only have armies of a hundred men. Conversely ten million men under arms doesn’t make you strong if your enemies have a hundred million men.

    Economic conditions are absolutes. If you can feed your family and have a good house and car it doesn’t matter what your neighbors have. You still live in the same conditions whether your neighbors are either multi-millionaires or destitute bums. (In fact it’s better if your neighbors are all richer than you are.)

    What this means is that there might be some cause for concern if America falls behind in an arms race but we would love for the rest of the world to catch up and surpass us economically. As long as our absolute economic conditions continue to improve there is no reason to worry if our relative economic position deteriorates.

    But, modern military power is based on high tech weapons, not numbers of men. These high tech weapons take a very strong economy to produce. Perhaps this is a reason for Americans to worry…

    No. The only way to sustain economic growth is with economic freedom. State run economies can flourish for a while under special conditions but they all ultimately stall and start to fail. It’s also pretty hard to imagine an economically free nation that doesn’t become a politically free nation as well. So, only an economically and politically free nation is likely to be able to challenge America’s position as a superpower.

    And free people don’t fight wars with each other.

    So, as an American I wish the EU good luck. I also echo the sentiments of others here that say they would love to let Europeans handle the world’s problems for a while. Americans never really wanted the world position we have. We would much rather just be somewhat isolationist and just live our lives free from the concerns of the rest of the world. But like it or not we were more or less forced into that role, and I think we’ve done a better job than most. But we really still don’t want the job.

  • Great article. I have some data on Bulgaria’s attitudes toward the EU, and membership details, and snags that give insight into just how far apart Bulgaria is from gaining membership. Yet…I have the feeling that the EU will simply lower it’s standards in order to accept the East (it’s just paper) or Bulgaria will promise to fix its problems, EU will accept the promise, and Bulgaria will break them all (it’s just paper). This is classic Euro diplomacy that has caused such disasters in the past, and their character doesn’t seem to change.

  • Greg

    EU as superpower? Unlikely, for several reasons.

    -European nations have gotten too used to living behind the shield of American power, it simply frees up too much money to spend on welfare instead of defense.

    -Europeans are still too tribal. They don’t play nicely with the others. The only thing enabling the EU to exist is the fact that Europeans have moved “beyond power”. Once they rediscover real power and its uses, they’ll be more of a danger to themselves than anyone else.

    -Demographics- low birth rate and aging population. I’ve seen figures that indicate that by 2030 each working EU citizen will have his own 65+ pensioner to support. They won’t be able to support themselves in old age, how can they afford to be a superpower? Part of the motivation for their foolish immigration policy has been to find workers for the coming decades, they think they can revitalize themselves with immigrants like the US has/does. But their societies are too stratified, and they don’t have the ability of the US to assimilate newcomers, so the result of their immigration policies has been to import people who wind up bitter serfs (if they work at all, otherwise they wind up bitter feeders at the welfare trough- and bitter feeders at the welfare trough with high birthrates, which is just a bonus).

  • ralph phelan

    “soon ‘First World’ will come to mean …”

    You forgot South Korea and Taiwan.

    Someday Singapore’s political freedom will grow to match their economic freedom, and they’ll join the list.

    India’s got patches of third world and patches of first….

    Can anyone think of any I’ve missed?