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Indeed, EU economic interventionism has gone to both comic and tragic extremes. On the one hand, its agricultural subsidies (which are twice as large as those on this side of the Atlantic) and subsequent dumping of farm products on developing countries has on many occasions undermined the EU’s otherwise generous aid to such nations. The relief agency Oxfam, for example, said last April that the EU’s sugar policy had cost Mozambique more than one-third of what that struggling African country has received in EU development aid.
On the comic side, Schnabel and Rocca detail one of the EU’s many infamous product standards: a seven-page European Commission document regulating banana quality. It stipulates that the fruit must be at least 14 centimeters in length “along the convex face, from the blossom end to the point where the peduncle joins the crown,” and at least 27 millimeters thick “between the lateral faces and the middle, [measured] perpendicularly to the longitudinal axis.”
FRUIT HUMOR ASIDE, the EU has made much headway in spreading its regulations and standards — and ultimately its tastes — around the world. Through soft power, as scholars of international politics refer to nonmilitary influence, the EU has managed to extend the reach of its political culture — just at a time when U.S. public diplomacy has been floundering. As Schnabel and Rocca note, its formidable culture, generosity toward the developing world, and appealing way of life are some of Europe’s greatest assets in winning hearts and minds beyond its borders.
At the same time, the European Union must grow more productive to compensate for looming demographic difficulties (the projected EU fertility rate for 2005 was 1.48 children per woman, well below replacement) as well as Western Europe’s addiction to social spending. One of the strongest pressures to spark such productivity by adopting a more free market orientation in the EU comes from new Central and Eastern European member states. As former Estonian President Mart Laar said in 2003, “In the new member states, even the most left-wing governments are significantly more free-market oriented than the most right-wing governments among the current members.”
But even with America’s clear affinity with the free market values of the former Eastern Bloc, the authors argue, the U.S. is unlikely to pursue a policy of “divide and conquer” against an economically robust EU that is beginning to take on more and more responsibility for its own defense. As the Bush administration makes overtures aimed at repairing the transatlantic relationship, Schnabel and Rocca argue quite convincingly that America still has more in common with the Old World than many of us think. As President Bush said in Brussels earlier this year, “America supports a strong Europe, because we need a strong partner in the hard work of advancing freedom and peace in the world.”
America’s goal, according to the former ambassador and much of the current U.S. foreign policy leadership, should be to help manage the emergence of the EU as a global power in a way that it remains committed to the Atlantic alliance and gradually more comfortable with robust free market principles. With the dramatic transformation of China and India into potential superpowers in their own right, as well as the ongoing threat to the entire world of Islamist radicalism, the Atlantic alliance is likely to remain an indispensable relationship for some time to come.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online