This is my first post for quite a while. The reasons for the break are complex. I have been very busy in my working life and I have gone through a (minor) crisis of conscience...or was it depression? Whatever it was, I am over it. I can again write about things I care about - and about which I have something worth saying - without worrying endlessly about whether I should be stronger in my stance, to counter the rising tide of conservative revanchism (McCarthyism has reincarnated itself as the neo-con movement, don't you think?) I see in Australia and elsewhere including on A Western Heart.
I will start with Europe, my birthplace and spiritual home. Again and again, the conservative media, think tanks and assorted others get stuck into Europe and Europeans. The attack alternates between a contemptuous dismissal of Europe as as a has-been power and an equally contemptuous portrayal of Europe as a disunited, incoherent and directionless polity.
I differentiate between these lines of argument because I see the latter used differently from the former - Europe is tainted with those accusations when it takes a position that is not identical to that adopted by the USA. The "has-been" line is used when Europe does not take a position at all.To those who say that Europe is no longer relevant, that it is a spent power or a hopeless romantic dream held by the elites and ignored by the masses of its citizens, I say: read a book.
I don't mean just any book, although a broader reading list might benefit some on the right whose grasp of literature is weak indeed - or so it seems if one judges by the quality of their arguments and of their writing.
What I mean is, read this book, Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century, by Mark Leonard. You can get it from Amazon ( I don't get a percentage, rest assured).Who is Mark Leonard? Mark Leonard is a former Director of the Foreign Policy Centre and one of Britain's best-known foreign policy thinkers. He has spent time in the USA, which is where he wrote the book, while on a "Transatlantic Fellowship" at the German Marshall Fund in Washington DC.
The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) is a non-partisan American public policy and grantmaking institution dedicated to promoting greater cooperation and understanding between the United States and Europe.
GMF does this by supporting individuals and institutions working on transatlantic issues, by convening leaders to discuss the most pressing transatlantic themes, and by examining ways in which transatlantic cooperation can address a variety of global policy challenges. In addition, GMF supports initiatives to strengthen democracies.
Here is a couple of views on Leonard's book, from influential reviewers.Robert Kagan, author of Of Paradise & Power, "Fluid and original, this is an important and enjoyable book for anyone who cares about the future of Europe."Jonathan Rauch, National Journal, "Cheekily tweaking the neoconservative Project for the New American Century, Leonard predicts 'the emergence of a 'New European Century'."
The thesis put forward by Leonard is simple enough. Europe is the first network polity in a networked century. The USA is an industrial empire that thrives on industrial and military supremacy under considerations whose influence is waning.America's centralised, bureaucratised (the US public service would have to be one of the worst and most expensive in the world!) militarised supremacy, Leonard argues, has become so overwhelming that it has defeated everything, including itself.
It can impose its military power far and wide - but when its back is turned its potency wanes. Europe's reach, by contrast, is broad and deep, spreading a value system from Albania to Zambia. Europe draws other countries into its orbit rather than seeking to define itself against them, and as they come under the influence of its laws and customs they are changed forever.
The European model is so influential, among those who understand it, that it is already being copied by the rising power in the world, China. China is emulating Europe's example and reaping great political and economic returns.
It is a short book, not a taxing read. Get it, read it, critique it.