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J.F. Kelly, Jr. - Contributor
Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who
writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident
of Coronado, California. [go to Kelly index]
[J. F. Kelly, Jr.] 6/7/05
Dutch voters dealt a crushing and probably fatal blow to European
bureaucrats’ dreams of a united European superpower, able to take center
stage in world affairs and stand up to the United States as an equal in power
and influence. After leading the campaign toward ultimate European unity,
the French government of Jacques Chirac was spurned and humiliated by its
own citizens. What irony! In the end, concern over the erosion of sovereignty
and the dilution of culture trumped unrealistic visions of a French and German
dominated rival to the United States.
to the reactions of some of our pundits and politicians, mostly
liberals who believe that the Europe is still
the center of the world and the source of all diplomatic wisdom,
one would gather that this somehow constitutes bad news for the
United States. Well, hardly. Even without a strong central government
in Brussels, the European Union will continue to be a vibrant
economic entity and now we won’t have to deal with a strengthened,
heavily French and German influenced political bureaucracy that
believes its principal purpose is to act as a counterweight to
the United States.
With a United States of Europe would eventually come a unified
European military establishment that would weaken or destroy
NATO. Given the great reluctance of European countries to contribute
much to their own defense, there is little reason to suppose
that they would contribute much to a common defense, either.
Thus they would still be reliant upon a U.S. defense umbrella.
Except for the British, it is difficult enough to integrate their
military organizations into U.S.-led operations the way things
Also with a United States of Europe would likely emerge a greatly
strengthened and emboldened European Commission and European
Court of Justice, largely unaccountable to anyone, seeking to
impose their liberal social, business and legal standards upon
anyone wishing to do business in or with Europe. It is difficult
to imagine how that would benefit the interest of the United
Europe was split regarding its support of the U.S. role in
the war on terrorism. The opposition of France and Germany complicated
and delayed U.S. efforts to enforce U.N. sanctions and overthrow
the government of Saddam Hussein and created a rift in our relations
that has not healed yet. Still, many European nations joined
with Britain, our staunchest ally, in supporting our campaign
in Iraq. Had a French and German dominated government been calling
the shots in Brussels, European participation in the alliance
of the willing would have been unlikely.
A European superpower never was in the cards. The rich cultures
of the various nations of that continent, many of which ranked
as dominant powers for a time in history, are too unique and
proud to be subordinated into a new culture of greater Europe.
Why would their citizens want to surrender any sovereignty to
a faceless, largely un-elected bureaucracy in Brussels?
Frequently made comparisons between our history and their efforts
toward union are really not relevant. Our original thirteen,
sparsely populated and largely homogeneous colonies banded together
to form a stronger union against colonizers. The constitution
we forged was a model of simplicity with clearly delineated checks
and balances. The proposed European constitution of nearly 500
pages, on the other hand, is anything but simple, blurring responsibilities
and intruding into areas that would trouble most Europeans if
they bothered to read it, assuming they could understand its
cumbersome annexes and protocols.
will become of Europe now? Have French and Dutch citizens voted,
against any prominent future for Europe? Of
course not. Germany, the U.K., France and Italy are still among
the world’s largest economies and the nations of Western
Europe remain among the world’s richest in terms of per
capita income. Their cultural and economic contributions will
continue to be valued. But their glory days of empire and influence,
either individually or collectively, are clearly past.
for us, perhaps, is that we should cease our preoccupation
European leaders think and wish for the United States
to do or refrain from doing and pay much greater attention to
what is going on in Asia and the Pacific Rim. There, the rising
giants, China and India, compete with us and with each other
for influence and resources along with Japan, still the world’s
second largest economy, and the smaller but robust and growing
economies of the Far East. There are challenges there that deserve
the earnest concentration of Washington. tOR
2005 J. F. Kelly, Jr.