Friday, October 21, 2011

The crisis in Europe

The crisis of Europe is serious:

"The idea of the EU and the euro was that affluence would be created and shared," said Charles Kupchan, a senior fellow at the US Council on Foreign Relations. "Now that is fading. Instead of delivering affluence, the EU now delivers austerity and pain."

Nowhere is this more evident than in Greece. "For the Greeks," said Serfaty, "getting into the EU was a way to end political instability and an undemocratic threat that defined Greece in the past. Being forced out of Europe would resurrect those things. Moreover, it would define an easy wayout for other states with potential populist leadership."
That's from Bruce Stokes of the German Marshall Fund in An unreliable partner for the US? European Voice 10/20/2011. He speculates as follows on the possible implications for US-European relations of a eurozone failure.

Default by one or more eurozone countries could well lead to a Japanese-style 'lost decade' of stagnant economic growth and selfpreoccupation in Europe. A weakened, distracted Europe would prove an unreliable strategic ally for the US. It would mean a Europe even less able to defend itself, one that cuts back on foreign aid, that falls short in its efforts to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, that is less able to stand up to Russian energy blackmail or to impose trade sanctions to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions. This would accelerate the US's drift toward Asia, a development that is neither in Europe's interest, nor that of the US.
I'm not worried about Europe not being able to defend itself. I'm more concerned at the moment that the EU, the main European institution designed to maintain peace on the continent, is in danger of major retrogression.

Would a drift of the US toward better relations with China be a big problem for Europe? I'm not so sure. Before they discovered the Great Terrorist Menace To Civilization of 9/11/2001, the American neocons were busily promoting China as the next Great Menance To Civilization. Warmongers need an enemy to monger against. An improvement in relations to China would hopefully reduce the liklihood of indirect and direct conflict with China. In itself, that would be a good thing for the US.

But the fall of the EU - which may or may not follow the now almost certain forthcoming shrinking of the eurozone - would reduce the collective clout of Europe in the world. Although if it means looking around for wars to meddle in as Britain and France recently did in Libya, having a unified Europe may not be the optimum choice for the contintent, either.

In any case, a unified European foreign policy will not be possible so long as both major parties in Britain maintain their consensus that Britain must always toady to the US on all major foreign policy issues.

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