Tuesday, December 3, 2002

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Europe and pseudo-balancing

OK, back to world affairs. Eric Olsen goes off on Charles Kupchan's new book, The End of the American Era, which is summarized in this Salon interview. To condense the summary, Kupchan's basic argument is that 1) Europe is emerging as a counterweight to U.S. power, and 2) U.S. domestic politics will force U.S. foreign policy to be simultaneously more isolationist and unilateralist.

I know Kupchan and like a lot of what he's written, but I think he's dead wrong in this book, albeit for different reasons that Olsen. On Europe, let's be generous and assume that the EU is on the path of becoming a real state. Is Kupchan right about Europe becoming a great power peer balancing against the US? No, because even Kupchan doesn't think this will happen. In the Salon interview, he admits, "The likelihood of military conflict between the U.S. and Europe is very low, almost beyond the stretch of imagination." He acknowledges that Europe is highly unlikely to invest in the necessary defenses. Without that, any talk of actual balancing behavior is moot. If you read the interview, you see that what he's talking about is really "pseudo-balancing," adopting different positions on issues like Kyoto, the ICC, and so on. Don't get me wrong, these kinds of regulatory issues are intrinsically important (they're the subject of my next book), but they are not war-starters. Contrast what Kupchan thinks is balancing with what Josef Joffe describes as simple European petulance. To paraphrase Woodrow Wilson, the battles between the EU and the US will be fierce because the stakes will be so small.

The second reason Kupchan is wrong on Europe is demography. Europe is aging a hell of a lot faster than the United States, and its immigrants are far less integrated into civil society. Even if Europe is a unitary actor, it will be a declining power. When he presented this argument last month in Chicago, I asked him how Europe would handle its demographic decline, and his answer was that it would have to be more welcoming of its immigrants. Given that most of its immigrants are Muslim and that the EU can't bring itself to seriously consider Turkey, the one secular democracy in the Middle East, for membership, I don't see this happening anytime this century.

Finally, on U.S. opinion favoring isolationism and unilateralism, consider the following two facts. First, polling data in the U.S. consistently shows that a broad majority of American favor both an internationalist and multilateralist foreign policy. Don't take my word for it, go read Stevel Kull and I.M. Destler's book, Misreading the Public. Second, because the post-9/11 world is like the Cold War era in that world affairs is considered important by voters, it is highly unlikely that foreign policy leaders are going to stray too far beyond the consensus that Kull and Destler describe.

posted by Dan on 12.03.02 at 11:34 PM


I think you ve read his book backwards first European demographic decline is for 2020 . If you still don 't understand before 2020 America won't be the only superpower. Get it?
Second Europe is led by France and Germany (sorry)the others are gonna follow in the future.

posted by: mike on 12.03.02 at 11:34 PM [permalink]

European decline will not become in 2020 it is happening , but you are right it s gonna be really dangerous by 2020 and before 2020 many things can happen !! Moreover some experts do not agree and think that because of the economy and the fact that people get married later they do children later and wait for a better job. But it s a problem that can be avoided by reforms. It s beginning right now in France the country is adopting a liberal system slowly but surely . EU is about to liberalize more in the future it has no choice. The euro is the biggest threat ever against the US supremacy . Ask experts why , it relates with our enourmous trade deficit 550 B$. UE have a GDP almost equal to ours their economy runs slow but they have no trade deficit my friend they don t depend on others like the United States.
I agree when you say France and Germany leads European Union and that the others will follow i don t lure myself I know where their interests are , and it s not with the United States look at Tony Blair, don t you understand what s happening in GB, we are losing are closest ally ever. The future elected leaders in europe will be pro or anti american ? I m asking you ? I think you know the answer . The way we dealt with those issues ( Iraq ...) was wrong we can t even punish France few people understand that ? Even if we wanted to do so ? France did punish us the war is extremely expensive because of them we are alone in Iraq and it s chaos.

posted by: sven on 12.03.02 at 11:34 PM [permalink]

I just wanna say that i ve heard people wanted us to nuke France. These people are so smart. How do you want to nuke a country that is the third nuclear power in the world, they have enough nukes to kill us too in 5 minutes, idiots, think before you talk ? But we can bomb Germany ,they have no nukes they re weak, and we' ve already done it before........... lol

posted by: donnie on 12.03.02 at 11:34 PM [permalink]

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