This weekend, the American Freedom Alliance will be hosting an international conference in Los Angeles addressing the fate of Europe. Titled “Europe’s Last Stand? Debt, Demography and the Abandonment of National Sovereignty,” the conference will feature Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, economic thought leader George Gilder, Middle East expert Daniel Pipes, and Islamic authority Robert Spencer amongst over twenty other guests and speakers. Below is a piece written by the organizer of the conference, Avi Davis.
Ten years ago, United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld caused an international sensation when he branded Germany and France, who had just pledged to form a united front against U.S. plans to invade Iraq, as “Old Europe.”
“You’re thinking of Europe as Germany and France,” he said at a press conference before Washington, D.C’s foreign press corps. “I don’t. I think that’s old Europe.”
After a decade in which Europe suffered its own terrorist atrocities, when the Euro Zone endured the worst financial crisis in its history, and when mass protests and rioting became common features of European life, it might be said that Rumsfeld got it wrong. Germany and France are very much the face of the “New”Europe, revealing that the apparent youthfulness of the European Union project is merely a cover up for very old problems.
This idea is best exemplified by the current Euro crisis. Three years ago, the Euro looked invincible, a currency supported by a bond issue backed by the full faith and credit of banks in rich Northern and Central European countries. In took a fiasco on the scale of the 17th Century Dutch Tulip Scandal to realize that this was a house of cards. In 2010, when the Greece crisis first erupted and that country’s default on its national debt seemed almost inevitable, the entire EU superstructure cracked and trembled on its foundation.
If Germany’s Bundesbank and the International Monetary Fund had not come to the rescue in forgiving parts of Greek debt in exchange for a ruthless austerity program, the Greek economy would have crashed, precipitating similar collapses across the Southern Mediterranean. Under those circumstances, the Euro (and almost certainly the European Union itself) would have been a goner, as country after country would have been forced to abandon the Euro and return to a more stable national currency.
This glaring problem had been foretold years before by economists such as Bernard Connolly, a former EU Commissioner, who launched an explicit warning in his 1995 book The Rotten Heart of Europe. Simply put, the creation of the European Monetary Union defied one of the most basic of economic principles: in order to maintain a common currency, there must exist a common economic policy subscribed to by all nations that use that currency and by which they choose to be bound. How can a currency such as the Euro survive when there is no common budget to support it and individual nations can spend as freely and independently as they wish?
The sole and abiding question today about the financial future of Europe remains how long and at what price will Germany’s financial institutions and taxpayers continue to support the tottering Euro, allowing their own financial strength to be sapped by their less than responsible southern partners?
The sovereign national debt crisis is one thing; demography is another.
Europe’s demographic issues have been highlighted countless times over the past twenty years, but they bear repeating. European fertility rates are the lowest in the world. According to the UK’s The Independent, Germany and Austria’s replacement rate (births over deaths) are at 1.3; France’s at 1.2 and Spain’s at 1.1. This compares with 2.2 in the United States, 7.46 in Niger and 6.58 in Yemen. By 2050, Italy’s population will have fallen by 22%, Bulgaria’s by 36% and Estonia’s by a staggering 52%.
The aging populations of Europe will not only become a tremendous drain on the social welfare institutions of the continent, but young people will flee their countries of birth when they realize that undertakers and funeral directors are making better livings than doctors. This is already evident in Greece, where hundreds of thousands of “refugees” under the age of 25 have sought sanctuary in more hospitable demographic climates.
“Demography,” Mark Steyn has written, “is the most obvious symptom of civilizational exhaustion and the clearest indicator of where a country is headed.” The grim reality is that a civilization that cannot replace death with births is headed for history’s scrap heap.
Yet there is at least one section of Europe’s torpid population that shows no sign of regression: its Muslim enclaves. With an average birth rate of 5.2, Islam is now the principal supplier of new Europeans and the breeding ground for its most vocal anti-democratic advocacy. According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, by 2030 Muslims are expected to make up 8% of Europe’s population, nearly doubling what it was in 1990. Throughout Western Europe most countries will see their Muslim populations double in size.
The high crime rates in Muslim areas of Europe–particularly in places such as the formerly placid Malmo in Sweden–only begin to fill in the picture of second generation Muslim citizens who reject the freedoms foisted upon them by their host countries or else use them to slice away at Enlightenment oriented beliefs.
How else to explain streets in certain Paris suburbs that are shut down when Muslims choose to pray with no intervention from patrolling French policemen? Or else the existence of roving gangs of Norwegian Muslims for whom rape is an answer to the visual provocation of scantily clad Norwegian women? The murder of Dutch film maker Theo Van Gogh, the Danish Cartoon riots, the 7/7 bombings in London, the Spanish train bombing in 2006, and the most recent grisly murder of a British soldier in a London suburb are the threads of a lurid tapestry that, knotted together, present an alarming picture of Europe’s future.
How much of this is abetted by the multicultural pieties of European politicians is a matter of debate. But one thing seems clear: Europe has been on a path of bonding with Islam for over forty years.
In her seminal work Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis, the Swiss author Bat Ye’or demonstrates how France sought to create a unified Europe as a political and economic counterweight to the United States, while building an alliance with the Arab and African Muslim world–which it considered a significant geopolitical element in its post-colonial sphere of influence. The Eurabian doctrine which emerged would embrace common economic development, basing itself on the model of medieval Muslim Andalusia as an example of cooperation for 21st Century Europe. But the new found amity between Europe and its Arab colleagues would also necessitate demonizing Israel and jettisoning the alliance with the United States, a course of diplomacy the Europeans seem to have quite gleefully adopted.
The recrudescence of antisemitism in Europe, repackaged as anti-Zionism, is of particular concern, since Europe may not have yet fully recovered from its near self-immolation during its last bout of febrile antisemitic obsession. To watch European leaders abase themselves in their embrace of what Bat Ye’or calls the new found religious cult of “Palestinianism” is to recognize the European tendency to sentimentalize totalitarianism and piteously fail to defend the values and ideals on which its civilization was founded. For if a kleptocracy such as the Palestinian Authority, with its non-existent record of compliance with the terms of its own peace agreements and its daily spewing of ancient antisemitic canards, can be considered a subject worthy of veneration, then a reason can be found to give almost any totalitarian government the same level of acclaim.
Clearly, if demography is an obvious symptom of civilization’s exhaustion, then antisemitism is unquestionably a significant barometer of its decline.
A final understanding of Europe’s direction is not complete without an examination of its willful abandonment of national sovereignty. The project of European political union has been a dream of Utopians since the days of Thomas More but only gained political traction in the wake of the devastation wrought by the the Second World War. Many Europeans then believed that peace on the continent could only be achieved by the creation of a supranational “United States of Europe” in which political, judicial and cultural differences would one day be blended. And indeed, under the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, such an idea was contemplated.
But as John Fonte writes in his authoritative review of the global governance movement in Sovereignty or Submission, sovereign representative government is something of an afterthought in post-liberal Europe. While Europe is not yet governed by a supranational entity, much of European life is administered and regulated by unaccountable and unrepresentative bureaucracies. Theses institutions include, among others, The Council of Ministers, The European Council of Justice, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission, which together regulate aspects of economic policy, social policy (particularly labor and discrimination issues), public health, consumer protection, telecommunications, energy, education, transportation, and environmental law.
Not only has Europe acquired a democratic deficit but, strangely enough, a liberal one as well. Traditional liberal values–such as the equality of citizenship and freedom of speech–are being summarily curtailed; both so in the interests of accommodating Muslim interests. Special rules are now applied to certain Muslim enclaves in Europe that protect them against overly invasive police scrutiny and provide easy access to immigrant entry. As for freedom of speech, the travails of Dutch politician Geert Wilders is a sobering reminder of how bad things have become.
Wilders, whose Party for Freedom has achieved great electoral results, produced a film (Fitna) which demonstrated that the Koran is explicitly anti-democratic and opposed to the basic values upon which liberal democratic nations are built. For this he was indicted and forced to wage a legal battle that he eventually won. But the idea that one cannot publicly question another group’s motivations for fear of offending that group’s sensitivities is an appalling reversal on the guarantee of freedom of expression that emerged for liberal democracies over the past three centuries.
For the United Sates, these are all crucial issues that cannot be ignored. Representing one half of Western civilization, European historical developments have always had a direct bearing on developments in the United States, and the fallout from European disasters has had a seismic impact on U.S. social, political, and cultural trends. One need only look at the Obama Administration’s policies on health care, taxation, and immigration to witness the impact of the European collective experiment upon the United States.
But even more important than this is the need to defend and uphold representative democratic government. With a revanchist Russia on the prowl, China on a hungry march for acquisitions and the Jihadist menace in Arab countries in full throttle, democracy stands imperiled by ideologies that would not shed a tear to see it destroyed.
The Europe’s Last Stand? conference is then not merely a statement about what ails Europe, but an examination of what ails the West. It is a plea to Americans to join hands with our brothers across the Atlantic and commit to the defense of our mutual values and ideals and to thwart the forces gathering to destroy our freedoms. Much as we combined our forces in the 20th Century in the struggle with fascism and communism, we must now commit, in the 21st Century, to a new battle whose parameters are not so clear since the enemy is already within the gates.
And while much is unclear about this struggle, at least one thing is certain: the enemies of democracy will not make a distinction between Old and New Europe, or even Europe and the United States. For them, western civilization must come to an end. We ignore this war at our own peril.