Europe’s Move Toward Conservatism
By: Greg C. Reeson
Private intelligence company Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (STRATFOR) recently published an article describing what it sees as the imminent end of the leftist domination of Europe. Specifically, the article says, “â€¦2007 will see the end of the left as a leading force on the Continent.”
In its analysis, STRATFOR states that a slow shift to the political right in Europe extends beyond Germany, France and the United Kingdom, and includes Poland, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria, the result of elections that have seen moderate and conservative parties making substantial gains.
While I agree with STRATFOR that a noticeable shift to the right is occurring in European politics, I break with their analysis on the future of the European Union. In the article, STRATFOR states that “A right-leaning Europe could be united under one leader, particularly since the states are brought closer together by common problems such as immigration and economic reform.” Despite common security concerns and increasingly intertwined economic interests, European nations have thus far been unwilling to sacrifice traditionally sovereign powers and rights to the EU. The French think of themselves first as French and second as European. Likewise with the British, who place primacy on their status as citizens of Great Britain above their association with Europeans on the Continent. Nationalist ideals have been, and will continue to be, a significant contributor to the rejection of the proposed European Union Constitution.
In an interesting twist to the article, STRATFOR speculates that a united Europe has only two viable contenders for its leadership: Germany and the United States. Germany has indeed replaced France as the leading power in Europe, and Chancellor Angela Merkel is certainly capable of pushing hard for a strengthened European Union that could challenge the United States as a global power. If the sovereignty concerns of the 27 EU member states could somehow be overcome, and that is a long shot at best, then Germany could emerge as the most dominant nation in the EU.
But the United States? While America does have significant “reach and influence,” as STRATFOR says, on the Continent, the idea of a unified Europe somehow led by the United States is inconceivable for a very simple, almost blatantly obvious, reason: the level of anti-American sentiment that exists on the Continent. The publics of most European nations adamantly oppose our actions in Iraq and many Europeans are resentful of our status as the world’s lone superpower. We are seen by many as bullies who seek to impose our standards and values on everyone else, and further interference in European affairs is not likely to be appreciated or tolerated.
The most positive aspect of the article is the recognition that conservatism in Europe is making significant strides. Europe is buckling under the pressure created by the leftist policies that have dominated the Continent for the last couple of decades. The immigration problems of European countries require immediate attention and the social welfare systems in place throughout Europe cannot be maintained, especially with dwindling numbers of workers and declining birth rates. The populations of European nations are responding to the growing crises on the Continent by turning to moderate and conservative candidates who will push their countries in the right direction. This bodes well for the United States, which is likely to benefit from improved relations that will facilitate solutions to the common economic and security concerns that threaten both America and the nations of Europe. The challenge will be for the United States to work with our European allies to advance conservative agendas while taking great care not to intrude too much into their internal affairs.