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Continental drift.

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LATE LAST SPRING, VOTERS IN FRANCE and the Netherlands rejected the proposed constitutional treaty for the European Union. Conservative critics, especially in America, expressed great satisfaction. The news was, depending on the priorities of the commentator, a reaffirmation of the nationstate, or of democracy, or of constitutional government. Such rejoicing is premature. But the referendums do indicate that Europeans are beginning to see through the vapors of political delusion.

The European Union was formally launched in 1991, after four decades of incremental steps toward "integration." Entering this new, more ambitious phase, just after the final collapse of Communism, Euro-governance emerged as the new standard-bearer of "progressive" hopes. The E.U. became the premier sponsor of political fantasy in the post-Cold War world. And political fantasy is inevitably, perhaps inherently, illiberal--that is, contemptuous of the sober premises of liberal or constitutional democracy. The E.U. promised a world of peace and harmony and respect for human rights, in which everyone would be assured of comfort and security without much effort and certainly without much thought, because all the world would soon be brought to share the guiding assumptions of E.U. bureaucrats.

The rival vision of jihadists--a restored caliphate ruling over a united Muslim world, in perpetual conflict with the infidels beyond--is far less improbable. Al-Qaeda, now terrorizing Europe, understands that its vision can only be fulfilled by disciplining its adherents and wielding force against everyone else. The E.U. vision, supposedly the genuine alternative to terrorism, relies on the gentle guidance of supple bureaucrats in Brussels, earnest lawyers at the Hague, and visionary diplomats, with suitable NGO minders, at any place where the U.N. wants to hold its next conference on saving the world.

The referendums in France and the Netherlands-along with polls showing precipitous declines in support for the constitution in other E.U. countries--indicate that Europeans are no longer beguiled by this dream. The favorable vote in July by Luxembourg (the highest per capita recipient of E.U. largesse) cannot revive the E.U. constitution. But the same qualities which got Europeans into this condition in the first place will make it hard for them to get out of it now, without some painful adjustments to reality.

The Constitution that Wasn't

IT IS HARD TO SAY WITH ANY PRECISION what French and Dutch voters meant when they rejected the proposed constitution, because it is hard to say what the constitution itself was supposed to mean. Its advocates insisted that it was largely a matter of codifying or "tidying up" existing arrangements--while warning, at the same time, that its rejection would be a devastating blow to European integration, possibly triggering cataclysmic consequences. In France, the constitution's advocates insisted that it was essential to prevent American domination of Europe, but its opponents insisted that it would ensure the domination of Europe by American (or in de Gaulle's widely invoked racial terminology, "Anglo-Saxon") economic policies.

Voters could hardly gain clarity by reading the constitution. It is impenetrable, and not merely because it is more than 500 pages of bureaucratic prose. On the most basic questions, it settles nothing. More than two centuries ago, in the debate on the American Constitution, the central issues were whether the federal government could maintain its own standing army and impose its own taxes. Will the E.U. have its own armed forces? Its own capacity to impose taxes? A few throw-away lines in the treaty indicate that new "policies" regarding "security" and "revenue" may be adopted with the unanimous consent of the prime ministers of the member states. In other words, the constitution, which already vests supreme power in national executive officials working together, invites them to extend their collective authority--over against their own individual nations--whenever that seems convenient to them.

The constitution is supposed to establish a division of functions between the European and national governments. In fact, it gives the E.U. potential jurisdiction over almost every undertaking, while reserving almost nothing to the national governments exclusively. Yet the document does not supply Brussels with the means or resources it would need for its many tasks.

The constitution proposes to establish an E.U. minister for foreign affairs, with a fixed term, but acknowledges that states may maintain their own ambassadors to outside countries. Even as the Bundestag endorsed the new constitution, Germany campaigned for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council. Did Germany simply intend to echo, auf deutsch, the "common foreign policy" to which Britain and France (with their own permanent representatives on the Security Council) would already be bound under the new constitution?

To call this a constitution is to misuse the word. Although intended to supplant all previous treaties by which European authority had been established, it is itself a treaty, not obviously more binding or authoritative than any of the others. It is supposed to establish the supremacy of E.U. law--including any future regulations promulgated by European Commission bureaucrats in Brussels--over national law. Yet actually the constitution would only formalize this arrangement, since the European Court of Justice insisted decades ago that regulations from Brussels must take priority over enactments of national legislatures, and even over national constitutions as interpreted by national constitutional courts.

"Europe" has always been about elevating bureaucratic authority over elected parliaments bound by actual constitutions. The so-called European Parliament is largely a ceremonial entity, empowered neither to initiate legislation nor to choose the commissioners who do propose directives and regulations. Nobody was much exercised about this in the past. It is not likely that Europeans will suddenly rally to democratic propriety now.

But they are unhappy about existing conditions in their own countries, and are raising new questions about how they are governed. The most basic question is not answered at all in the constitutional treaty: why should the nations of Europe submit their sovereignty to the E.U.?

New World Union

IMAGINE A NEW WORLD COUNTERPART TO the European Union.... A series of treaties bestows lawmaking power to councils of representatives from the United States, Mexico, Canada, Guatemala, Grenada, Belize, Brazil, and a dozen or so other countries. Agriculture and labor regulations are made in secret meetings of the labor and agriculture ministers; environmental and safety regulations by environment and safety ministers; and so on. These laws and regulations--elaborated in suitable detail by a Commission of the Americas in, let us say, Caracas, Venezuela--exceed the reach of the current U.S. Code and take priority over U.S. laws. A court in, say, Belize, charged with giving force to these laws, has the authority to override any constitutional objections from the U.S. Supreme Court. The presidents or prime ministers of all these states then meet periodically to expand the powers of the Union of the Americas, by mutual agreement among themselves.

Of course, anyone who proposed such a scheme would be dismissed out of hand. It would subvert our Constitution's system of accountability, along with its checks and balances. But to state the objection in this way may be too abstract. Most Americans would instinctively recoil from this project on the grounds that it is, well, nuts. Most Americans would prefer to keep their own country.

Is the comparison unfair? Some Europeans have sentimentalized the project of European integration as a way to restore the unity of medieval Europe before it was shattered by the Protestant Reformation, or the French Revolution, or the terrible wars of the 20th century. But the nations of today's E.U. have never been governed in common. Neither ancient Rome nor its ramshackle successor, the Holy Roman Empire, stretched so far to the north or the east or the west. There has never before been a single political unit stretching from Portugal to Estonia, from Ireland to Greece, from Sweden to Cyprus.

True, before the United States, there was no polity covering the middle of North America, from one coast to the other. But the comparison remains instructive. After the original 13 states established a common federal government, the Union embraced more and more new states until, within little more than 60 years, it had expanded to the far shores of the Pacific. California entered the Union only two years after its territory was acquired from Mexico, but it already had a majority of English-speaking residents from the more settled parts of the U.S. Hawaii became an American possession in 1898, but 60 years later there was still intense debate about whether this territory, where most inhabitants were of Asian descent, could be incorporated as a full state of the Union. Puerto Rico, acquired at almost the same time as Hawaii, is still not a state. If the majority on that Spanish-speaking island ever sought full statehood, it is not at all certain that it would be admitted.

You can denounce Americans or past generations of Americans for racism, intolerance, chauvinism, or xenophobia. There is, no doubt, truth to such charges. But they are largely beside the point. The overwhelming majority of Americans are descended from immigrants who did not originate in the British Isles. In other words, the "native" population is now far outnumbered by descendants of "others." Scarcely any Americans notice this fact. A son of Arab immigrants commands American forces in Iraq, but the ancestry of General John Abizaid is not an issue. Nor does anyone notice that for 20 of the past 40 years, the office of U.S. Secretary of State has been held by an immigrant or by the child of immigrants.

Our tradition of assimilating newcomers to America is old--so old that it worked even when we brought America to the foreigners. After acquiring the Louisiana Territory, President Jefferson insisted that the existing French-speaking community conduct its political affairs in English. Louisiana has done so ever since, and without protest, despite the persistence of a sizable Cajun-speaking community.

Since the 19th century, immigrants have been required to learn English and demonstrate their knowledge of American history and institutions before becoming citizens. They must swear an oath, pledging to "support the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic," and promising, if required, to "take up arms" against these enemies. We have extracted this oath from grandmothers and disabled people, along with more suitable military recruits.

At bottom, the U.S. is, at least by the theory of our founders, a mutual defense agreement among citizens. Despite our differences, we stand together against common enemies. We entrust a common government to make what can be, literally, life or death decisions on our behalf. But it is not simply the government that constitutes our political community. The stability of the government, and of the Constitution that constitutes and limits that government, reflects the solidarity among the people. New Yorkers may not be the most beloved people in America, but the attack on the World Trade Center was seen throughout the country--in distant Hawaii as in Alabama or Michigan--as an attack on Americans, requiring a common American response.

Whatever else it is, the European Union certainly is not a counterpart to the U.S. in this respect. But what it actually is, no one can say. The collapse of the E.U. constitution is a reminder that political entities don't retain authority when they have no clear purpose that citizens can respect--or even grasp.

Mutual Distrust

AMERICA IS AN EXCEPTIONAL COUNTRY in many ways, which is part of the reason it continues to provoke so much envy, resentment, and hostility from Europeans. But as a nation-state, the United States is not at all unusual. The European Union itself is a confederation--or a collection, anyway-=of separate nation-states. It presupposes these states, even more than the U.S. Constitution presupposes the states in our Union.

The American Founders were eager to assure that the federal government could make decisions on behalf of the whole American people and execute its own laws and policies. State governors play no role in our federal councils and even senators serve for fixed terms, whether state governments pass to a different local majority or not. By contrast, E.U. policies are made by the immediate representatives of the member-state governments. All E.U. policies are then implemented by the member-state governments, because the E.U. has no police, field agents, or inspectors, and no local courts of its own.

The strange structure of the E.U. reflects the irreducible fact that Europeans do not trust each other all that much. The E.U. Parliament has only very limited powers because member states have never been prepared to trust their fates to a European-wide majority. Europe has known multinational schemes of government in the past, but by the 19th century, the multiethnic Ottoman, Romanov, and Hapsburg empires were seen as backward relics of a less enlightened age. Their collapse, at the end of the First World War, was welcomed by the Western allies and by most citizens of the national successor states. National independence became the universal desideratum--which meant possessing, among other trappings of a modern state, a national constitution and parliament. Borders shaped by language and ethnicity naturally meant that some "national" states would turn out smaller than others, but this was thought to offer the compensating advantage of greater cohesion. And national cohesion made possible liberal and parliamentary institutions, under which members of minority groups could consent to be governed by the representatives of the majority in return for assurances that everyone's rights would be protected. Decades earlier, liberal opinion in Britain, France, and other parts of Europe, had favored independence for the Balkan states and Belgium; Italian and German unification; and Poland's restoration as a separate people. Liberals expected these new states to herald a freer and more peaceful and prosperous world.

Of course, things turned out badly in the interwar period and worse thereafter. Faced with determined aggressors, small nations could not always maintain their independence. Even after World War II, when the integration project began, nations felt little warmth, let alone trust, for their immediate neighbors. A grouping of Portugal and Spain? Of Netherlands with Germany and Austria? Britain with Ireland? National states had come into being precisely in opposition to the claims of neighbors. Europe was only able to "unite" by assuring anxious nation-states that their distrusted neighbors would be outvoted by others, by nations sufficiently distant from traditional rivalries or local enmities.

Still, to what end? In the aftermath of the Second World War, with Soviet troops in the middle of Germany, governments in Western Europe recognized that they needed help in defending themselves. The U.S. actually encouraged them to develop a European Defence Community, wielding a multinational force with a shared command structure. It would, as General Eisenhower put it (when serving as NATO commander in the early 1950s), allow for "rearming Germans without rearming Germany." But the French National Assembly rejected the plan in 1954 as a threat to French "sovereignty." Instead, Germany was allowed to rearm on the condition that it .joined NATO. Europeans then ceded "leadership" of NATO to the U.S., partly as an assurance that a rearmed Germany would be carefully chaperoned. In the early 1960s, President de Gaulle tried to entice West Germany and the Low Countries to .join a French-led defense structure as an alternative to NATO. The idea remained stillborn, doubtless because France's neighbors recognized its limitations as a provider of security. Whatever else it was, "Europe" was not going to be built around a common defense.

After the collapse of the Soviet empire, however, many European leaders nurtured wider ambitions. The Maastricht treaty that launched the E.U. in 1991 provided for a "common foreign and security policy"--though not a common army. There has been little follow-through on proposals for .joint forces, largely because Europeans do not want to finance serious military capabilities, but also because they are not equipped to make common decisions on the deployment of such forces. Still, Europe has distanced itself from NATO. European leaders saw no trouble in expanding the E.U. to include in its "common foreign and security policy" three new states (Finland, Austria, Sweden) that were not in NATO and had pledged themselves, as neutrals, never to join NATO.

What policy can be "common" between states that are pledged to a defense alliance and states that are neutral? Only policies that are so abstract or so global in their reach that they can transcend both sides in almost any conflict. Thus the E.U. became a big booster of wildly ambitious treaty projects like the International Criminal Court and the Kyoto Protocol. It also invested in establishing itself as a "broker" or "mediator" in the Middle East, pouring more financial assistance into the Palestinian Authority in the 1990s than into all of Africa. Perhaps Europeans have noticed that this investment did not bring peace to the Middle East.

The outbreak of war in Iraq was traumatic for Europeans because it exposed the pretense of a "common foreign policy." Of course, public opinion was divided over the war. That was so in America, too, but the American government is equipped to make decisions. While France and Germany rushed to position themselves as opponents of American "unilateralism," governments in Britain, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Denmark, along with most of those in Eastern Europe, thought it more important to align with the U.S.

The countries flying under the E.U. flag simply don't share the same priorities, nor is the E.U. equipped to reconcile their differences. Following the Madrid bombings, as angry Spanish voters blamed the incumbent conservatives, even officials in Paris and Berlin warned Spain's new socialist government not to act precipitously in withdrawing Spanish troops from Iraq. There was widespread concern that an immediate reversal of Spain's policy would encourage terrorists to think that every European state could be bullied by well-timed terror attacks. Believing that withdrawal would buy it immunity from the jihad, however, the new Spanish government promptly pulled its troops from Iraq. Nor did the German and French governments rush to replace the Spanish contingent in Iraq. Each government heeded its own priorities. Whatever else it was, the rejection of the constitution was a sign that European voters don't place much hope in a common foreign policy.

Human Rights and Citizenship

IF A COMMON FOREIGN POLICY REMAINS A distant dream, the idea of Europe as a zone of democratic stability possesses much more credibility. The first postwar organization in Europe, the Council of Europe (1949), had precisely the aim of rallying support for democratic government--at least on the western side of the Iron Curtain. The Council's first and still-paramount project is the European Convention on Human Rights (1950), which is supposed to be given effect by a European Court of Human Rights.

The project had no historical precedent. It assumed that rights were better protected by a group of nations and a supranational court than by a nation's own constitution. And thus it presumed that appeals to respect rights need not invoke concerns like national honor, solidarity among fellow citizens, or political stability. Nations with a long respect for civil liberties, like Great Britain, were encouraged therefore to think that the rights of their own citizens would somehow be better protected with monitoring by German and Italian judges (not exactly renowned for their historic respect for liberty). The problem became more acute in the 1990s, when the collapse of the Iron Curtain allowed nations from the east into the Council. In a system in which each state gets to appoint one judge, British justice can now be further improved by judges from Russia, Ukraine, and Albania.

The system works quite imperfectly. Judgments of the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg are not binding in the national law of all member states, nor are judges in the states always quick to take guidance from the Court's exemplary rulings. The Human Rights Court does not seem to make much difference in Russia, for example.

Since the 1970s, however, the European Court of Justice (an entirely distinct E.U. tribunal, based in Luxembourg) has claimed the authority to invoke human rights norms from the European Convention and other sources. As the ECJ saw it, this practice would answer concerns that regulations from Brussels, now placed above national constitutions, would leave Europeans without constitutional protection for their rights. Under the ECJ's guidance, Europeans would still have their rights protected, but by supranational authorities invoking supranational standards, rather than by their own courts or constitutions.

Embedding the European Rights Convention in E.U. law has provided an incentive for candidate nations to take human rights standards more seriously. That may well have worked to enhance respect for rights in Spain, Portugal, and Greece in the 1970s and '80s. Similar claims have been made about the new democracies in Eastern Europe in the 1990s. But severing rights protections from national authority has come at a price.

For one thing, the new scheme seems to have undermined respect for national legal traditions. In recent years, Britain's government has sponsored measures allowing house arrest without trial, relaxing double-jeopardy prohibitions (when new evidence makes it possible to reconsider an acquittal), and criminalizing speech that expresses disrespect for religious minorities (in deference to the sensitivities of British Muslims). A few decades ago in Britain, any one of these measures would have been unthinkable. They are still unthinkable in the U.S., which prizes its own historic Bill of Rights. Britain, home of the legal traditions that inspired our Bill of Rights, relies increasingly, however, on foreign judges to determine the rights of Englishmen.

There is a more general problem. If a national government does not have ultimate responsibility for protecting the rights of its own citizens, then the nation can no longer be conceived as a political community for the mutual protection of rights. The E.U. avidly subsidizes and encourages "regional governance" arrangements--in practice, encouraging separatist feelings among the Scots and the Welsh, the Basques, and an assortment of German-speaking minorities living outside the borders of today's Germany. The E.U. also promotes special protections for non-citizens who are long-time residents of member states, a practice described as "post-national citizenship."

European governments now speak regularly of "autochthonous" and "allochthonous" residents--those rooted in the local soil and those springing from foreign soils. Such formulas are supposed to be a sign of respect for the distinct cultures of the "allochthonous" residents. In practice, they have allowed European governments to shrug off concerns about integrating immigrants. European cities now have large, resentful populations of Muslim immigrants who do not identify themselves as citizens of their host nation. But why should they, when the host nation does not emphasize that it is a political entity, demanding loyalty in exchange for mutual protection? "Europe" is an amorphous grouping of nations. It is already "multicultural." Why should it matter if its member states become bazaars of contending cultures?

Of course, in an era when jihadists recruit from disaffected Muslim communities across Europe, this vision of multicultural harmony looks much less promising. In both France and the Netherlands, popular opposition to the new constitution seems to have reflected, at least in part, a heightened fear of foreigners. And throughout Europe, public opinion is overwhelmingly opposed to bringing Turkey into the E.U. European leaders have spent years demanding reforms to qualify Turkey for ultimate admission to the E.U., beguiling themselves with the prospect of making that country a model of multicultural tolerance for the rest of the Islamic world. Whatever else the rejection of the new constitution means, it is a sign that Europeans are not prepared to pay much of a price to realize this vision.

Political Economy

CRITICS OF THE E.U., EVEN WITHIN Europe, sometimes urge it to revert to the free trade zone it started out to be. There is much sense in this as a recommendation for future development. But as history it is quite misleading. If European governments had wanted simply to reduce barriers to trade, they had perfectly adequate vehicles for doing so. The western European states were founding members of the 1947 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which has since evolved into the World Trade Organization (WTO). If the Europeans wanted to reduce trade barriers more quickly than other participants in GATT were prepared to do, they could have established a parallel agreement among themselves, as the U.S. and its neighbors ultimately did with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This is, in fact, what Britain, Switzerland, and the Scandinavian countries did in the early 1960s, when they organized the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) as an alternative to the Common Market.

But the Common Market was always more ambitious, which is why its six founding members (France, Germany, Italy, and the Benelux countries) resisted the rival European Free Trade Association, ultimately maneuvering most EFTA members into joining the Common Market. The purpose of the Common Market, like the earlier European Coal and Steel Community (organized among the same six countries in 1951), was to lower trade barriers while simultaneously arranging safeguards, exemptions, and special subsidies as a shield against untrammeled free trade. In contrast to all other trade agreements (GATT, WTO, NAFTA, EFTA, etc.), the economic pacts linking the six required not just a treaty but an implementing bureaucracy, empowered to spell out details in subsequent regulations so that trade liberalization would be coupled with offsetting protections.

So trade in agricultural products would be open among the six, but farmers (especially French farmers) would be compensated by an elaborate scheme of subsidies and price supports. As the Common Market embraced new members and expanded liberalization agreements into new areas, the bureaucracy in Brussels, too, developed new regulations--to protect workers, to protect consumers, to protect the environment.

Underlying this was the insistence of the richer states, especially Germany, that the local standards imposed on their own firms also be imposed on firms in less affluent states, lest the latter derive a competitive advantage in their home countries. For decades, German and French prosperity served as an irresistible attraction for others. Even adopting new regulatory standards, and by the mid-1990s, a common currency, was not too high a price for the less affluent states to pay for a share of German and French prosperity.

The most fundamental reason that the E.U. is now in crisis is that the economies of the core states have performed quite poorly for more than a decade. Germany and France have stagnated, with unemployment hovering around 10%. Their average growth rate has been less than half America's, and their unemployment rate more than double that of the U.S.

Still, some states have continued to do well. Britain prospers, which is taken by many Europeans as a vindication of its decision to retain its own currency. But Ireland has experienced even more impressive growth (making it now among the richest states in the E.U.), despite adopting the Euro. Both Britain and Ireland have benefited from holding down taxes and regulations, which has made their industries more efficient and their markets more attractive to investors.

It is the largest E.U. states, apart from Britain--France, Germany, and Italy--that have done worst in the past decade. They have done less to reduce tax burdens and to free up labor markets. They have also been inclined to hope that a new round of E.U. "standards"--standardizing tax burdens as the Germans have suggested, or sharing social insurance burdens among E.U. states, as the Italians have suggested--would help to cushion them from competitive pressures. E.U. regulatory demands, in fact, have not so much dragged down the core-state economies as propped up their hapless leaders, who continually postpone already long-postponed reforms in the hope that a new scheme of "harmonization" will reduce the scale of unavoidable reform.

France, Germany, and Italy may also have hesitated to undertake more painful reforms for fear of unleashing political instability--long a problem for France and Italy, and a nightmare from the past for Germany. Postwar governments in all three countries tried to dampen political demands from the Left by promising a "third way" between socialism and market competition. Rather than cut back social benefits to lighten taxes and boost economic growth, these countries have resisted any major changes. A vague yearning for "community" constrains governments from unleashing individual economic initiative, and simultaneously discourages national policy initiative. Economic initiative thus remains constrained by excessive government, while beleaguered politicians evade their own responsibilities through supranational commitments.

Divided Prospects

EUROPE FACES DAUNTING PROBLEMS, Low birthrates mean aging populations, leaving fewer and fewer workers to support more and more retirees. Only increased immigration can ease this long-term bind, but Europeans are increasingly fearful of immigrants--for reasons good and bad. Meanwhile, current trends will require disaffected immigrants to pay more and more taxes to support a larger and larger proportion of the "autochthononous" population. This is a recipe for social conflict, even apart from the cultural strains already in evidence.

Some E.U. members have better prospects than others. But it is unlikely that any will be inclined to make significant sacrifices for the others. Britain, which has long been adamant in its opposition to proposals for harmonizing tax burdens across the E.U., has now been shaken by the July terror attacks in London. Pleas by British officials to tighten European security measures received a chilly response from the European Parliament. Effective measures for British security will mostly have to originate in London. Prime Minister Blair has already warned that should new security measures conflict with provisions of the European Rights Convention, he will ask Parliament to curtail or suspend Britain's obligations to the latter. France has meanwhile announced that, for the sake of security, it is suspending some of its own European treaty commitments in order to assert closer control over travel into France from other E.U. states.

At the other extreme are the Dutch. Churchill called them the "trustful Dutch" for their reliance on international law to protect them from German panzers. They have in the past decade invested still more trust in international law, playing proud host to a succession of pompous international tribunals, culminating in the absurd International Criminal Court. Now the Dutch, too, have awakened to discover that they are hated by a large portion of their fellow citizens. The British are quite worried about a Muslim community that is less than 2% Of Britain's total population. In the Netherlands, the proportion of Muslims is well over twice what it is in Britain and less evenly spread through the country. Half of the population of Rotterdam is now of foreign origin.

After last November's brutal murder of the filmmaker Theo van Gogh by an angry Dutch Muslim, the government's first response was to enact laws against insulting Islam. There is talk about further efforts to integrate Muslims into Dutch culture. That will be difficult for a culture whose most distinctive qualities, as a British journalist observed, seem to be license for homosexuals to marry and for children to kill their aging parents. (The Netherlands is a world pioneer in the practice of medical euthanasia.)

Although governments fear to provoke resentful immigrants, they also fear to provoke their own "autochthonous" populations, who have been led to expect very comfortable cushions against market pressures. Some Muslims envision the official establishment of Sharia law in the Netherlands and other European states within a generation or two. Except when worrying about global warming a century from now, "autochthonous" Europeans, who do not have many children, seem to work with shorter time horizons, focusing on their own retirement packages.

In the U.S., religious faith often seems to provide the confidence necessary for economic risk-taking. In much of Europe, a kind of fatalism seems to prevail, on the part of Muslims who focus relentlessly on the world to come, and post-Christian Europeans who believe in little beyond this generation. They may find it increasingly easy to blame their common problems on America--or Israel.

Surveys document high levels of European resentment against America (and pathological levels of hostility toward Israel). The surveys conducted by the Pew Foundation are often cited as evidence of European anger toward the Bush Administration (an interpretation perhaps not altogether unpleasing to Madeleine Albright, a chief consultant and publicist for Pew). One survey question that received scant attention is particularly striking: "Is success in life pretty much determined by forces outside our control?" Two-thirds of Americans say no, while most Europeans say yes (by as much as two-thirds in fatalist Germany and Italy, while just under half agree in Britain).

The rejection of the European constitution has killed the dream of a European superstate. What remains to be seen is whether--and which--European states will save themselves by recovering their own freedom.

Jeremy Rabkin is professor of government at Cornell University, and author most recently of Law Without Nations? (Princeton University Press).
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Author:Rabkin, Jeremy
Publication:Claremont Review of Books
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Sep 22, 2005
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