Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The European Project

If you are an American and standing outside the bathroom, what are you inside the bathroom?

A European.

Europe has suffered many comments here on Ushanka.us. If WSJ's Bret Stephen's predictions today are true, we will opine at Europe's expense until our last breath.

Bret's Opinion article today: What Comes After 'Europe'?

He outlines three stages of post-war Europe: Hard Facts, Convenient Fictions, and Fraud, and predicts how the next 50 years will play out.

In short, the 'Hard Fact' phase was immediately after the war where the hard decisions were made by brave and strong men. (Lord Ismay is pictured above.) Setting up economies to build their respective countries into self-sustaining successes.

Bret doesn't note this in his article, but this stage was only 'European' in the sense that a bunch of neighboring countries each acted on their own behalf. They did this out of a shared history of suffering, but in the end each decided how their democracies and economies would be structured. In our simplistic view of European affairs, the moment these countries started sharing currencies, political affairs and defenses, the disaster was only a matter of time. Sovereignty must be primary in all affairs.

The 'Convenient Fictions' phase was a superior view of Europe in areas of diplomacy and productivity. Basically, all of Europe adopted France's snotty self-love in this phase and, as a result, took their eye off the ball. Bret:

All this did wonders, for a while, to mask European failures and puff up European pride. But there is always a danger in substituting grandiosity for achievement, mistaking pronouncements for facts, or, more generally, believing in your own nonsense.

The 'Fraud' phase is the acceptance of Greece into the Union when their self-created demise was evident and other overt deceptions. Bret assessment and predictions:

What is now happening in Europe isn't so much a crisis as it is an exposure: a Madoff-type event rather than a Lehman one. The shock is that it's a shock. Greece was never going to be bailed out and will, sooner or later, default. The banks holding Greek debt will, sooner or later, be recapitalized. The recapitalization will be borne by German taxpayers, and it will bring them—sooner rather than later—to the outer limit of their forbearance. The Chinese will not ride to the rescue: They know not to throw good money after bad.

And then Italy will go Greek. Europe's crisis will lap on U.S. shores, and America's economic woes will lap on Europe's—a two-way tsunami.

America will survive this because America is a state.
The riots of Athens will become those of Milan, Madrid and Marseilles. Parties of the fringe will gain greater sway. Border checkpoints will return. Currencies will be resurrected, then devalued. Countries will choose decay over reform. It's a long, likely parade of horribles.

Watching the events in Europe anger us. We are angered that the solutions are known, yet decades of pain - caused by leftist policies - must be felt by all before the solutions are accepted by... leftist politicians.

How many people must suffer economic stagnation and missed opportunities before people with zero history of success adopt proven strategies?

Bret suggests it will take 50 years before Europe is replaced by a collection of neighboring, sovereign states. That's good news, except for the current and next 1-2 generations.

No comments: