I have not been posting much this week since I was attending the general meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society in Guatemala City. Today (it is still 9 November here) is the 17th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. We just heard a speech by former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, who brought homage to Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul the Great, Alexander Solzhenitsyn and others and asked us never to forget the millions of victims of communism. Aznar also said that “today’s threat is no longer Soviet missiles. The threat is terrorism.” He added that “Islamic terrorists consider our democracy and freedom to be unbearable” and that policies of appeasement do not work: “Appeasement will not work against Islamic terrorism. We must not forget this lesson,” he said.
I wonder what the position of the Spanish government would be today if Aznar were still Prime Minister of Spain. He did not refer to last Tuesday’s American elections in his speech, but would he be worried? I have expressed concern that a victory of the Democrats in the U.S. might have very serious consequences, especially in Europe, if this leads to a withdrawal of the US Army from Iraq. Most Europeans are satisfied that the Pelosi band won, but if Iraq ends in a debacle for the U.S. this will seal the fate of Europe.
The reason why so many Europeans are pleased with the Democratic victory is because they see it as a vindication of their own anti-Americanism. Some Europeans will deny this, and say that they are not at all anti-American – just anti-Bush or anti-neocon. It this were true one might just as well argue that the reason why the regimes in Iran and Syria are pleased with the outcome of the American elections has nothing to do with anti-Americanism but only with feelings of antipathy towards the Bush administration. I do not buy that argument. Anti-American feelings are growing in Europe. I think these feelings will exacerbate in the coming years for three reasons, all of which have to do with the current crisis in Europe:
(1) Its welfare states are on the brink of implosion;
(2) Its moral and legal order is collapsing, while the influence of radical Islam is growing;
(3) Its nation-states are falling apart.
Before coming to Guatemala I spent over two weeks in the U.S., where I could feel the exasperation with Europe – and the growing anti-Europeanism. One university professor told me that the Americans made a mistake when they dropped two atomic bombs on Japan during WWII, because they should have dropped them on Europe. He was only half joking and made it quite clear that America would never again come to the rescue of Europe. He is closely involved with one of the think tanks related to the White House. He told me (and I believe him because I heard a similar observation from someone working for the administration) that America’s leading politicians, despite words to the opposite, have also given up on Europe. To be honest, I find this quite understandable. It would, however, help if they were to concede this publicly, because only the shock of realizing that they are on their own and will have to rely on themselves instead of on America will persuade the Europeans to pull their act together.
Meanwhile the thing that strikes me most in Guatemala is the abundance of children. The average fertility rate is 4.4 births per woman, compared to 1.1 among non-immigrant Europeans in Europe. Some Guatemalans complain that the birth rate in their country is a problem, but I do not think so. On this issue I agree with the late Julian Simon who argued that people are “the ultimate resource,” they are a country’s greatest wealth. Europe’s birth dearth is the root cause of its problems.