State of the European Union: God Bless the Bureaucrats


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Image credit: Poster Collection, INT 294, Hoover Institution Archives.

In the immediate wake of the Brexit vote, a normally astute talk-show host declared, gleefully, that “the European Union is dead.”

One begged, and begs still, to differ. The EU is a bureaucratic monster that interferes absurdly with “the structures of everyday life.” Its grand rhetoric masks expensive inefficiencies and military powerlessness: In global affairs, it’s a chatroom. On the economic side, its attempt to establish a common currency, the Euro, was folly, unleashing some economies but debilitating others. It’s unable, without NATO, to defend its borders, and its non-response to mass immigration has been cowardly, immoral, and self-destructive.

And for all that, the EU remains a miracle to cherish, an experiment that has changed world history for the better. It’s the guarantor of peace among yesteryear’s masters of destruction, and it has provided far-better lives for hundreds of millions within its boundaries. The EU’s failures make headlines, while its breathtaking long-term triumph goes unappreciated.

While gains in Europe’s prosperity have been remarkable (if cyclical), the greatest contribution of the EU has been to make war all but impossible between constituent populations who slaughtered each other for centuries over minor border adjustments, dynastic spats, ethnic delusions, greed and, of course, God. Nations that within the lifetimes of men and women still living among us enthusiastically engaged in the greatest wartime butchery in history now squabble, disarmed, about farm subsidies, fishing rights, and bail-outs. Countless minor resentments remain, but as the recent landslide win of a pro-EU French presidential candidate underscored, even malcontents vote to keep the EU payments coming.

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