History has taught us that the resilient European Empire suffers from continued bouts of necrophania (seeming or apparent death), only to be revitalized incessantly by both the civilization’s religion and politics, often working in tandem as church and state. In this paper, from the lessons of history, we take a broad cross-section of economic, political, population and military indicators to see where contemporary Europe (particularly as led by the top 4 countries of the continent) has come from, and how it shapes up today, to see where it may be heading in the new world context of post-globalization, with competing continental-sized civilizational superpowers.
Throughout history empires and their civilizations have come and gone. However, Europe as a unique civilization (and reoccurring empire) which has stood the test of time, and with incredible death-defying resilience, survived all war and peril to this modern era. From this background, it may be that the European Union, as propelled progressively forward by its leading nations, will take up a role and position in the present emerging post-globalization world of superpowers in rivalry.
Therefore, in this paper, we ask the question: As the winds of change blow, from the bellows of fate, are we about to see the smiths of Europe, strike the anvil of history to forge the newly tempered Europe, all in the heat of intercontinental crises, of the newly forming multipolar world with competing superpowers?
A retrospective view of the world, delving into its history, reveals that major superpowers in various epochs have wielded international power and influence. In the western world we often hear of the vast and past world empires (Wallerstein, 1987) like Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome acting as forerunners of more recent kingdoms, empires or nations like Europe and the Anglo Saxon world. In this recent western historical landscape, for example, we have seen Napoleon’s Empire, the British Empire, the Third Reich and the United States of America.
This rise and fall of various hegemonic political configurations develop a drama, often written in blood, of the ebb and flow in the sea of human history. These historical tidal waves have given rise to the successive life and death, of often conflicting world powers. We have even been stunned witnesses to the dramatic collapse of what was “the world’s only other superpower” towards the close of the 20th century - the Soviet Union. Conversely, in 1989 the world watched their TVs in awe as the Berlin Wall fell in a prelude to the reunification of Germany to become Europe’s population, economic and political heavyweight.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union leaving the world with one superpower, and the resurrection of the German Phoenix within the European Union (EU), do we now see an array of eager nations waiting as reserves ring-side (to take up the slack, or fill the geopolitical vacuum), for their time and chance, to join the fray of looming superpowers in the making - for example, The EU; Pan-Arabia; and China, Japan and India. Of course any jockeying for advantage would be further facilitated if the USA falls from what was once, and briefly, its unrivalled economic and military hegemonic apex.
However, in this successive life and death of world powers over thousands of years, a fascinating and absolutely unique political configuration continues to reappear. This major empire of history refuses to be consumed in rigor mortis to extinction, but only falls into the seeming or apparent death of necrophania waiting for revitalization, to incessantly reappear in its geographic homeland of Europe, over and over again for the last two millennia.
This empire has typically comprised of a set of regions locally ruled by governors, viceroys or client kings in the name of a political primate. Traditionally this European empire, as a multi-ethnic state, was ruled from a single center. Like other political entities, it maintanied its political structure at least partly by coercion (Empire, 2005).
Even though Edward Gibbon’s classic history book (2003) talks of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, this Empire has had continual and successive revitalization, even after several bouts of necrophania. This life and (apparent) death cycle, repeated many times during the last two thousand years, reveals that the idea of a unified Europe, as presently promulgated in the European Union (EU), is a vintage reoccurring concept, not a new 20th century idea, but two thousand years old.
Additional highlights, in visual form, of two of the many successive historical waves of the European Empire’s expansion, are shown in the following maps, which depict the extent of the Roman Empire in two previous periods of history.
Further, the study of history shows that Europe in its successive rounds of the revived Roman Empire eventually led to the Vatican and Roman Empire coalition which has continued to give life to the Holy Roman Empire since the coming of the dark cloud of the Middle Ages. As H. G. Wells says, “The Roman Empire [throughout centuries of history] staggers, sprawls and is thrust off the stage, and reappears, and – if we may carry the image one step further – it is the Church of Rome which plays the part of the magician and keeps the corpse alive” (1924).
The European leaders know the basis of contemporary Europe can be found in the antiquities of history dating from the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1989, Dr. Otto von Habsburg, once heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, claimed as a member of the European Parliament that, “Europe is living largely by the heritage of the Holy Roman Empire, though the great majority ... [don’t] know it.” He stressed how the “religious and Christian element” plays “an absolutely decisive role” in Europe’s heritage. Stephen Hasler, in like mind declared, that the “Franco-German ‘Core Europe’ - ‘Charlemagna’ [from Charlemagne of the Medieval Holy Roman Empire] - is back in business. ... Franco-Germany virtually amounts to a superpower ...” (Hasler, 2004).
The late and previous Pope, John Paul II, echoed similar sentiment when he made the following far-reaching comment:
[Concerning the] history of the formation of the European nations ... [and Europe’s] future destiny ... [plus] ... the European identity, [they are] not understandable without Christianity, and that precisely in Christianity are found those common roots by which the continent has seen its civilization mature: its culture, its dynamism, its activity, its capacity for constructive expansion in other continents as well; in a word, all that makes up its glory. .... Today still, the soul of Europe remains united, because, beyond its common origin, it has similar Christian and human values ... (Pope John Paul II, 1982, p. 6)
Pope Benedict XVI, the newly elected Christian primate, is not an unknown figure, but has a well established and rightfully earned reputation as a brilliant intellectual theologian who has justified the hard-line approach of the Holy See in rejection of the “tyranny of relativism” and liberalism which he finds deficient, as they have no universals or absolutes. Benedict XVI’s cues to where the (Roman) church (and Europe) should go, is basically to look at where it has been, and then to move from that as an anchor point.
Benedict’s comments in his latest book, just released, “Values in Times of Upheaval” (Ratzinger, 2005), are a telling declaration for the European Union and with what identity and orientation it is destined to line up with in the unfolding world. His book is built around the idea that it is only the (Roman) Christian civilization that can give birth to a new morally and spiritually healthy and vibrant Europe. In this book Benedict argues that Europe must reclaim its Christian heritage and he writes, “In order to survive, Europe needs a critical acceptance of its [Roman] Christian culture” (Wilkinson and Boudreaux, 2005). Indeed Benedict writes further,
Europe needs to accept itself anew ... if it is to survive .... In the hour of its greatest success, Europe seems to have become empty inside, paralyzed by a life-threatening crisis to its health [from a low birth rate] and dependant on transplants [of immigrant labor] ... Christians should see themselves as a creative minority ...” to revive the best of Europe’s Christian heritage (Ratzinger, 2005; Henegan, 2005).
Benedict’s views are unequivocal, and he is adamant that the revived spirit of Christianity must be far from liberalism or modernism with their liberation theology, women priests, rampant divorce, homosexuality, birth control, abortion, pluralism, multiculturalism, and research involving fetal cells and cloning (Gibbs, 2005, p. 22). For this Pope, reality lies in continuity - Christianity as it has already been “revealed” to Rome, and there may be a Vatican apparent emphasis on human rights, but at the theological and doctrinal levels, there would appear to be no room for apostates or infidels, be they individuals, and time will tell if this even applies to civilizations.
For example, Benedict has previously been unequivocal in outspoken “opposition to Turkey’s joining the European Union on the grounds that a country of 68 million Muslims would dilute Western Europe’s Christian heritage” (Gibbs, 2005, p. 21).
This Pope has said that “Muslim but secular Turkey should seek its future in an association of Islamic nations rather than the EU, which has Christian roots. In an interview last year for France’s Le Figaro Magazine, [before becoming the present Pope] Ratzinger, then doctrinal head of the Roman Catholic Church, said Turkey had always been ‘in permanent contrast to Europe’ and that linking it to Europe would be a mistake. .... The centrist Milliyet [Turkish newspaper] described Ratzinger as ‘one of the fathers of the concept for offering Turkey a privileged partnership’ instead of EU membership. German and French conservatives also favor ‘a privileged partnership’ for Turkey falling well short of full membership. [However,] Ankara, which is due to start entry talks with the EU on Oct. 3 , says it is interested only in membership. .... [Commentator Selcuk Gultalsi has said] ‘At a time of rising opposition against Turkey’s EU membership in countries like France, Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands, the Vatican joining this opposition would send a wrong message not only to Turks but also to Muslims. .... Undoubtedly, the EU is a secular union ... but despite this secularity the Vatican’s influence should not be underestimated’” (Reuters, 2005).
Whatever route Pope Benedict XVI takes, religiously and politically, will have profound effects on Europe’s particular remix of classical (Roman) church and state, the European Union’s relations with the rest of the world, and particularly with the “infidel” PanArab Islamic and Asian civilizations.
Historically therefore, this European civilization has been dependent on, and buoyed up in its identity and actions - emboldened as a bulwark against other non-Catholic and non-Christian peoples, but namely the Islamic civilization. Thus, under the pall of the middle ages, swathes of the European continent, as defined by their civilization rooted in Western Christendom of the Holy Roman Empire, largely influenced or backed up by the Vatican, have developed their identity as an opposing “righteous” force against heretical peoples (other Christian and Judaic peoples) and the younger but vigorous civilization of Islam, and from there the civilization in Europe has remained anchored.
Specifically, this European identity was fanned by several successive medieval crusades. Interestingly, for these crusades - the Christian version of Islamic jihad or holy war (Lewis, 2004, p. 31), the most apparently significant and exotic threat to Christian Europe was potentially, or in reality, from the Islamic civilization of the Middle East and North Africa. Even though the typical focal and clash point of this conflict was Jerusalem in the Holy Land of the Palestine region, there have, at times, been significant incursions of Islam into Europe, across the South and East, and the Balkans, as far as Vienna (as with the Ottoman empire), and also well into the Iberian Peninsula. More specifically, Bernard Lewis (2002, pp. 4, 5) gives a panoramic view over the hundreds of years of Islamic incursions into Europe which spearheaded into Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, and the Balkans.
Not unexpectedly, we are now, some would argue, in a post-globalization era as the one potential world of globalization increasingly fragments into civilizational superpowers. If the sun is indeed setting over globalization, we will begin to see the competing centripetal forces, within the world’s major civilizations (with their corresponding ethnicity and religion), draw their peoples together into a multi-fronted intercontinental arena of competition and rivalry.
Such a world reveals that the proponents of globalization have not been able to successfully realize its objectives, to bring the world together under one economically infrastructured system, leading initially to international political and cultural acceptance, as the first phase of bringing the world together into an harmoniously interconnected poltical and cultural interactive web, all built upon economic integration from one universal free market.
Samuel Huntington (1996), of Harvard University, supports the idea of an emerging fragmented world, and argues that there is a great likelihood for intercultural and inter-religious conflict between future world powers, each united from within through culture and religion, in a multi-polar world. He rejects the idea that the world will easily succumb to Western globalizing forces which have been mounted to displace the interests of both Eastern and Islamic peoples. However, these non-Western peoples may aggressively pursue their interests through their newly emerging international power blocs.
Swartz (2001) comments in relation to Huntington’s book:
The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. [T]he principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.
A chilling comment, which highlights the rivalry of potential enemies, at least partly accruing from globalization, was made by German political theorist Carl Schmitt. He said that the Cold War was a world of obvious friends and enemies, but the globalized world, by contrast, tends to turn all friends into enemies or competitors. Elaborating further Friedman declares, "...[in] globalization politics...[you] still have to worry about the threats coming from nation-states you are divided from – Iraq, Iran, North Korea. [Moreover increasingly] you have to be concerned with threats coming from those to whom you are connected" in the globalization process (2000, pp. 12, 269).
If this is indeed a post-global world with the legacy of that brief and now waning era, are we entering into the relationships of enemies and competitors which, as Schmitt suggests, were fostered by globalization? In such an unfolding world arena where could we expect to see the newly revived Europe, in the guise of the EU, settle in the geopolitics of a newly emerging world? Will this be a world of intercontinental schisms with civilizational superpowers, in which the real prospect of Huntington’s clash of civilizations (1996), with ubiquitous mass-destruction weapons, becomes the greatest threat to mankind?
In this prospective, uncertain and anxious fractured multipolar world context, presenting a potentially ominous epoch, let us take stock of what inherent vitality, and international clout would be expected of the European civilization.
The following tables show select and comparative economic, political, and population data for the EU. This broad-scale cross-sectional view shows that, by any standards, the EU has arisen to be a significant player on the world scene.
Across this data in the first table, it is obvious that economic strength, military expenditure and exports value, are firmly entrenched in the top 4: Germany, France, UK and Italy. However, these heavyweight positions must not blind us to the vulnerabilities of the top 4 nations specifically, and the EU generally. Particularly in the areas of public debt and energy resource deficiency, Europe along with the top 4 are not so well off.
The combined economies of these top 4 countries (with Germany assuming number one rank) account for a massive US$ 7.5 trillion or 63% of the EU economy. The total EU economy in turn has surmounted the output of the USA, which has been for decades, by far, the number one world economy. These figures upon casual observation may mask the considerable public debt in these top 4 which averaged in 2003 a high 72.5% of their GDP, substantially more than the already excessive corresponding percentage in the USA. So while the GDP of the EU is impressive, underlying weakness is built in with overexposed levels of public debt.
Another factor that should be considered when viewing the EU is that it is generally deficient in resources and very much so in energy resources like oil and gas. These are absolutely vital (at low prices) for any continued economic development (McDonald, 1997, pp. 17, 168-170). This deficiency among the top 4 (except the UK) shows that these 3 nations are at the mercy of the continued cheap supplies of energy resources from international sources. For example, in 2001, three of the top 4 countries amounted to 59% of the level of EU deficit in the oil exports/imports balance.
However, the 2003 current account balance of the top 4 was overall in the black, even though the UK and Italy were the two main detractors from a good show in Germany and France. From a broader perspective, it is interesting to note, although not unexpected, that the EU in 2003 also had a minimally negative current account balance, presenting only a tinge of warning to the Euro economy. This was a much better showing, and confidence builder, of only US$ 36.8 billion in the red, than that of the USA, which had a debilitating current account deficit of over US$ 541.8 billion dollars.
In the area of military expenditure for 2003, it appeared that the EU top 4, with 2.0% of GDP spent on the military, were lagging behind in the development of this sector, at least when compared to the USA, with 3.3% of GDP spent on the military. Overall military spending as a percentage of GDP, for the fifteen EU nations of 2003, managed to hover above half of the US figure (von Wogau, 2004). However, we should not lose sight of the fact that France, the UK and Germany, in absolute numbers of Euros, do spend impressively for military activities and acquisitions.
For example, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) group is involved in various high status and strategically important aviation, space and military activities and projects. Under this umbrella EADS develops software, systems and machinery, some of which it makes available for sale in international markets. The following make up a representative list of what EADS is already involved in: Airbus aircraft, Eurofighter, Eurocopter, military transport aircraft, space technology and craft, satellites, missiles, and defence and security systems (EADS, 2005). This is beginning to be an impressive array of “civilian” and military technology befitting the emerging military infrastructure of a prospective superpower.
Further, it must be noted here that the giant’s share of additional high expenditure in the military arena for Europe has been taken up by the USA for decades in the post World War Two era. For example, in the Balkan wars of the 1990’s the brunt of the cost and action was borne by the United States, even though some would argue that these wars were mainly fought on behalf of Europe.
In support of the idea that the Americans have in actual fact been supporting and subsidizing European military action and development, we need to take note, that even though it has been quietly carried out, it is nonetheless significant, that fully functional European military bases, which had been built, equipped and maintained by the US, have been evacuated by the Americans in recent years to make way for operational occupancy of the European armed forces.
Further masking of whatever total military development may be occurring in Europe, is also the result of the industrial and technological development of European civilian projects which have the potential to be immediately available or quickly converted for military purposes. Take for example the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) success in aviation, as previously highlighted, with not only an increasingly large range of Airbus aircraft for military purposes, but also a growing range of civilian Airbus aircraft that could be converted for military use.
Alarmingly also for the US is that, Airbus (and therefore EADS) in its rapid rise to astounding success in international aviation markets, is now a formidable rival which seems set to overtake (American) Boeing as the world’s leader in aircraft design and manufacture. Actually European rival Airbus (which in 2003 surpassed Boeing as the world’s largest maker of commercial airliners) and Boeing are in a tenacious commercial battle, which will continue to a decisive climax for the victor (Pae, 2005) and it does not bode well for Boeing to prevail triumphantly.
There is also the European satellite navigation project Galileo (also an EADS project), promising the best satellite navigation service, which many realize is in direct rivalry to the now older and inferior United States’ Global Positioning Satellite System (GPS). Any satellite navigation system has obvious implications for offering vital services to high-tech warfare defence surveillance, and other offensive activities and incursive campaigns.
Although these European projects wound the supremacy of the USA, which has been an international vanguard in these vital areas for national security and international stability, there has been a general attitude in the West that encourages Europe to allocate even considerably more funds to the military.
Taking stock of the value of exports presents a fascinating impression. For 2003, the top 4 combined had exports amounting to more than twice the value of US exports. Germany alone exported 97% of the value of US exports. These figures are arresting considering the status of Europe in 1945 included largely destroyed industry and infrastructure, and particularly in Germany. These present levels of exports for the EU, and its close-to-balancing current account, predispose the European economy towards strength, everything else being equal.
Various political and population data, in the following table, also attest to the heavyweight potential of the EU as a major worldwide player.
The top 4 with 57% of the EU population, have 45% parliamentary representation in the Europarliament with 333 of the total 732 MEPs. Germany, by far, the most populous nation, with 82 million people, has 18% of the EU’s population, and has mustered 14% political representation with 99 MEPs in the Europarliament.
EU population trends have been of growing concern for some time. In 2004, the population increase was, on average for the top 4, only 0.19%, and for the EU in general only 0.17%. This means the EU has a rapidly aging population, which will not be able to meet labor demands for the economy, if it is to have desired levels of growth. In short, notwithstanding present levels of unemployment, there may eventually be a massive labor shortage if the eagerly anticipated prospective expansion of the European economies appears, as Europe matures to full superpower status, with a world-standard currency which replaces the dollar.
Actually the population growth rates, in various EU countries, are buoyed up greatly by immigration as the birth rates generally are very low (or even lagging the death rates) for European nations, some of which are actually negative population growth if immigration is excluded. In this vein, the top 4 except France, for 2004, had relatively strong net migration of over 2 per 1,000 population each.
Finally, the data on international political representation highlights excessive political presence, at the UN, if the EU is considered to be one integrated coalesced political entity, which it is working towards becoming. On the other hand, even though the EU is coming together as an integrated political conglomerate, if it continues to be viewed as a group of separate sovereign states, then the present political representation at the international level is typically what would be expected. However, the point of view taken in the paper is the former, that the EU can now be considered as a single political entity, at least in the making, and therefore enjoys over-representation at the UN.
We can see that the representation of the EU at the UN is considerable. As a political conglomerate and a burgeoning superpower, the EU has two permanent seats (out of 5 permanent and 10 other 2-year elected seats) on the Security Council, and a very substantial 25 out of 191 seats in the General Assembly. Obviously this is a powerful political lobby in the world forums of the UN. This is noteworthy when compared to the USA (or China or India) which has only one permanent seat on the Security Council and one seat in the General Assembly (Mateja, 2004).
Further representation may be held by Europe in the Security Council by way of elected membership which lasts for 2 years. For instance, for the years of 2005 and 2006 both Denmark and Greece are elected on the Security Council, resulting in a total of 4 EU countries represented on the Security Council out of a total membership of 15. Even though only the 5 permanent members of the Security Council have veto power, the EU representation is substantial with two European nations having veto power, namely the UK and France.
There is considerable disgruntlement over the membership of the Security Council, which some see as a political dinosaur, because its membership does not reflect the contemporary international realities of power and influence among nations. For example, Germany and Japan are the second and third largest contributors to the UN budget respectively; both nations are among the top 5 national GDPs in the world, with Japan as number three and Germany as number five and yet neither has a permanent seat in the Security Council (IMF Estimates for 2005; Mateja, 2004).
However, the strategy and bureaucracy for these two countries to become permanent members, with full veto power, is problematic and would not seem to be forthcoming (Mateja, 2004). If Germany though, were eventually to increase its representation to include the Security Council, this would further increase the clout of the EU in this international forum to three permanent members.
Kofi Annan has just yesterday as I write, made proposals to introduce “the most far reaching reforms in the history of the United Nations” (BBC News, 21st March, 2005). These reforms include one of either Recommendations A or B for the restructuring of the Security Council membership to “better reflect current geopolitical realities and involve more the countries that [significantly] contribute financially, militarily and diplomatically to the United Nations” (Fox News, 21st March, 2005).
In the following table, which summarizes the two sets of recommendations made, it can be seen that the representation of Germany, and therefore Europe, could increase in the Security Council if Germany is to be included as a member. In Recommendation A, European representation in the council would be expanded to 3 permanent members, although Germany (if it is to be included) as a new member would not have veto power (well at least not at first). This would expand European representation to over 12% of the new Council of 24.
Also in Recommendation B, European representation would be expanded by two new “permanent” members in the council even though they would be termed “renewable 4-year seats”. This would strengthen the European presence by two, one of which would surely be Germany. In this scenario Europe would have 4 members on the Security Council even though the two new members would not have veto power. This would lift European representation on the reconstituted Council to over 16% of 24 members.
The relatively modest military expenditures in the EU nations should not distract us from the present scale and importance of their military capacity which includes nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Two EU nations are nuclear powers - the UK and France. In the world nuclear club context it is interesting to see how this shapes up in a geopolitical view. The EU is surrounded on three fronts by nuclear weapons and these are in reasonable proximity. To the East is Russia, to the South East is Iran, soon to be nuclear (unless there is forceful international intervention), followed by the bristling Asian military arsenal. West of the EU is where the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world await in store - The USA.
Considering that the EU now extends across Greece, beyond the Bosporus into the Middle East with Cyprus, the far eastern European flank is well within the range of missiles from Iran. Of course both Russia and the Ukraine (with its nuclear legacy from the USSR) are in proximity to Europe and this is considered potentially significant even in this post cold war era. Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) would be needed for delivery of nuclear weapons from distant Asian nations. From the west, the USA certainly has ICBMs with a range to cross the Atlantic. Of course, we should not lose sight of the nuclear deterrent that the EU has with its own arsenal in the UK and France.
A collection of air and marine craft (for example, planes, submarines and battleships) also extends the range of delivery for some countries to deliver their nuclear weapons to just about anywhere in the world, assuming they can penetrate the sophisticated electronic surveillance, military shields, and anti-attack systems already deployed by many countries.
Germany, the EU political, industrial and economic heavyweight, is without nuclear weapons, and this will be addressed in the near future through various possibilities. Surely the premier European nation in terms of GDP and other economic indicators, political representation and population mass will work to have direct control over the arsenals of France and the U.K. as the EU’s integration deepens. Alternatively Germany could develop its own nuclear military muscle.
The obvious motivation for Germany to be a nuclear power by whatever means – to have the military strength and prestige to match the preeminence in the political and commercial arenas it enjoys as a nation, is borne out by five of the top seven nations around the world, in terms of GDP, that have nuclear arsenals. Also interestingly the only other nation, of the seven, that is not nuclear, is Japan, and there are already rumblings there for the development of a nuclear option.
These figures show that the EU, albeit with some weaknesses, is beginning to stack up with the world’s superpower and other potential superpowers (like China, Japan or India) quite formidably. In this context, let us now take a summary inventory of the present store of the EU.
Throughout two thousand years the European Empire has resisted death as a political and military power, even though it continually lapses into a necrophanic coma. This empire has been a bulwark of Christianity and often fights to maintain that position.
Islam has often been the civilization which Europe has warred against, and although usually effectively kept at bay from Europe by the Mediterranean, Turkish Straits and Black Sea, this exotic and rival civilization surrounds Europe on the South East and completely on the South.
The following map shows the relative position and expanse of the present EU (colored in white) from Portugal in the west to Cyprus in the east, from Finland in the north to Malta in the south (http://wwp.greenwichmeantime.com/time-zone/europe/european-union/map.htm). Such expansive spacial spread would certainly support the contention that Europe is in the process of becoming a continent-wide empire.
Incredible European economic scale, dominated by the top 4, has overtaken the USA. Overall public debt detracts from the EU economy and generally resource deficiency makes Europe vulnerable to the vagaries of the international market. However, one area of considerable European strength is the overall close-to-balancing current account due to high levels of exports.
EU military expenditure may at first appear relatively unspectacular but when support, subsidy and the USA pullback gifts are considered, along with the apparent civilian projects, the real level of substantial EU military development and acquisition is higher than that which is immediately obvious. Of course the range of cutting-edge technology across a broad cross section of military hardware and systems should not escape scrutiny, or we are at the risk of being left naïve to the growing and impressive military prowess of the continent.
At the political level the top 4 enjoy 45% political representation in the Europarliament. If the U.K. was to be edged out or leave the EU, as mooted by some, and if these seats were to be redistributed, based on something like the present political representation of the remnant nations, the top 3 could enjoy more than 50% of the Europarliament representation. Further, abolition of the veto rights of Europarliament nations, aligned with this new representation of Post-U.K. remnant Euronations, could lead to the EU being completely held by a parliamentary majority of three nations out of 24 - a triumvirate of Germany, France and Italy.
Europe has a worrisome population problem. Generally low levels of population increase point to a need for higher levels of immigration if economic development is to be maintained or increased securely and structurally from within, that is without taking industries “off shore”.
At the international political level, the EU enjoys more than typical representation in the UN, giving the continent a greater share of influence on the world scene than would normally be expected, and this over-influence is not expected to be withdrawn.
Europe, a nuclear power itself twice over (with France and the U.K.), is surrounded by nuclear weapons on three fronts – from The USA, Russia, and Iran (which many believe is on the verge of being nuclear), and a string of other Asian nations beyond Iran. Even though Europe is nuclear, Germany is anomalous in being a world heavyweight in just about every way except an outsider in the world’s nuclear club. Obviously Germany will look to solve this anomaly.
For an appropriate summary comment here let us go to T. R. Reid. In his recent book (2004), The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy, he shows that the EU, or as he declares it the “United States of Europe” has more people, more trade, more wealth, and more votes on every international body than the US. His book argues that Europe is stridently determined to be a superpower whether America likes it or not. And we should all take note that this is at a time when an upstart currency, called the euro, is trumping the once almighty dollar on global markets.
We have seen that the European combine, once again revived out of necrophania, is increasingly significant in the contemporary world, but we need to take stock to see how Europe may fit into the present international arena of nations and superpowers.
In a previous paper by the author (Leigh, 2004) the following assessment was made concerning the newly emerging European superpower:
In the centuries of recent history, we have seen the British worldwide Empire come and go, and then the United States loom large as a superpower, with a commercial and cultural empire, and now the pan-European, German led, supranational combine, as a Phoenix, may arise to assume superpower status, rivaling others.
In the same paper (Leigh, 2004), the author outlined the direction of the world into a post-globalization era. This procession into a post-AngloSaxon world, will tip the global distribution of power away from the West, into a new multi-polar world where fragmentation into civilizational superpowers appears. Bosworth (2004) records and comments in his paper:
James Leigh (2004) argues, the world is getting smaller [due to technology]. but it is not coming together [because human relations, between persons and nations, continue to be problematic or estranged]. Leigh considers what the near future may look like:
‘A newly formed pan-Islamic, largely Arab, supranational superpower, under Iranian hegemony, would add destabilizing ballast to any new global balance. Further, the potential Asian masses, forming a supranational superpower from China, Russia, Japan and India (making up a massive half the world’s population), would also rival the Western cultural and economic brand of influence and globalization, and therefore complicate the global state of affairs even more.’
If writing systems are a measure of balance or imbalance of world power ... then Leigh’s ‘tripartite’ composition is compelling.
The emerging configuration of new superpowers includes the EU as one of the main players which may take up the slack from the diminishing American status and role in the world. For example, America’s respected successful status, commercial and political influence, and others’ confidence in its hegemony have supported the dollar’s strength and high exchange rate in most of the post World War Two period. However, as American preeminence now wanes, and other nations lose confidence in America’s economic fundamentals, and political leadership, we see the dramatic fall of the dollar which must be of great concern to Washington and American business, not to mention the worry to the world which has relied on America as the world commercial epicenter to prop up the global economic system.
If the dollar continues to fall significantly, this could lead to freefall and foreign holders of the currency (for example, more than US$1 trillion held in China and Japan) may be prompted to salvage what little value there may be left before the greenback bottoms fully devalued into the basement. Imagine what this implosion would do to the American economy and New York Stock Exchange.
The following bleak comment supports the idea that the American dollar is vulnerable: “The dollar’s loss accelerated after Greenspan said on November 19  that overseas investors may tire of financing the U.S. current account deficit and diversify into other currencies” (Thomas, 2005).
A related problem is the US national debt at about US$7.5 trillion and over 12% of this is held in China and Japan as Treasury Bonds. Further, it seems clear, even though incredible, that a massive 49% of the US national debt is now held by foreign investors external to the US - by international governments, corporations and private individuals (Pesek, 2005; Sloan, 2004). Add the Euro:$ exchange rate of 1.36 (X-rates, 2005) in late 2004 and we begin to see an increasingly cheap dollar, and therefore potentially threatened by the Euro as an international currency.
All this poses incredible vulnerability for the USA, both economically and politically, and it should not come as a surprise that all foreign investment into the United States has fallen off dramatically. Moreover, John Williamson of The Institute for International Economics has said that foreclosing on Uncle Sam wouldn’t be in the interest of the world and its nations and international economic system. However, any one country might think, I’ll beat the crowd and diversify first (Thomas, 2004) thus setting off a stampede fleeing the dollar.
As the world is largely propped up by American consumer spending, this prospective American economic collapse’s immediate ripple effect would push the world financial system into convulsions, out of which a new currency could appear as the new world standard. That new world currency could be the European currency - the Euro. It is interesting to note the direction of the currency rates in recent months as the dollar has significantly weakened against the Euro. If this is an overall continuing trajectory of dollar decline, then the near future will be dramatic for America and the world.
Would such an emerging new world order be an opportunity for Europe to reestablish itself, and this time as a world superpower wielding incredible power and influence across the globe? In this vein let us take note of recent comments as reported by Eurowatchers and pundits of European politics.
This new multipolar world with three prospective world nuclear superpower conglomerates (EU, Asia and PanArabia) vying for supremacy, or at least advantage, will be a destabilizing development. The EU would be no exception as it vies for international supremacy and advantage.
For example, Romano Prodi, previous president of the European Commission, stated in 2001 that he wanted Brussels to take far-reaching new powers over European Union government spending, foreign policy, defence and police to try to transform the European Union into a global superpower (Evans-Pritchard, 2001).
The European ruling elite concur with Romano Prodi as they are now working for the ratification of the EU constitution which “creates an EU foreign minister and diplomatic service [and] equips Europe with superpower institutions ... to counter American domination” (The Left Coaster, 2004).
Ratification of the constitution, which is required in all 25 EU member states, is expected to be problematic in some of them (Friedman, 2005). However, it may be that this constitution, or whatever document or political process supersedes it (Leicester, 2005), will be the cohering capstone replacing vestigial political and military fragmentation, with comprehensive integration, thus giving rise to the birth of an economically coalesced and politically infrastructured, fully fledged (militarized) superpower. And obviously if the clout of the EU will be substantial enough to counter the present status of the US, then it will also be a counter to any other prospective superpower.
There is a consensus among many EU leaders that it is necessary for Europe to be able to plan and execute European military operations autonomously. Many European officials believe an autonomous European military capacity is necessary for Europe to have a meaningful foreign policy and give it a voice in world affairs (International Herald Tribune, 3rd September, 2003). It could also be added that such a voice in world affairs, to be taken seriously, needs a backing of economic, political and military might.
In unison with the above, on the status of the prospective Europe, Anthony Browne comments that the “European Union has outlined plans to become a military power [by transforming itself] from being a political power to a military one to enforce a foreign policy” worldwide (2005).
Pronouncements and accompanying developments coming out of Europe, for a place on the world stage, are not the meanderings of a timid wilting third rate power, but trumpet declarations of a newly confident, even strident, European Empire in the making again!
Charles Kupchan (2002) of Georgetown University goes even further, with the unsettling assertion, that a looming “clash of civilizations will ... [be] between the United States and Europe - and the Americans [and possibly much of the rest of the world] remain largely oblivious” to this momentous and dangerous state of affairs in the making. Kupchan further elaborates in the same paper with the foreboding comment that “Not only is American primacy far less durable than it appears, but it is already beginning to diminish. And the rising challenger is the European Union that is already in the process of marshalling its impressive resources”.
Churchill said something like: the further back you see, the further into the future your vision will be. In similar vein there is a famous saying that “there is nothing new under the sun”. For Eurowatchers, with their present view well based in the lessons of history, there is abundant evidence that we are witnessing another revitalization of the Euro political/military combine in a rapid rousing out of the latest bout of necrophania.
The lessons of history indicate that this will be a dramatic development on the international scene and introduce a turbulent period of massive shifts in the balance of power in the world. This time humanity will be subject to the competing campaigns of a multipolar world, with superpowers potentially on collision paths for a greater share in the earth’s bounty. An eventual tripolar clash between Europe, Asia and PanArabia, all utilizing the latest technology as highly equipped superpowers, will certainly change the world in a way we have never seen before.
So Americans may ask (as other AngloSaxon-led nations could) what can be done for their country to maintain viability in this looming world state of affairs. While it may not be politically correct or “smooth talk”, it must be said that the AngloSaxon-led world, and particularly the US, would have to take drastic emergency measures to halt their decline in all facets of economy, politics and the moral high ground, to salvage confidence and respect in the world arena.
This remedial action would require hard and democratically unpopular decisions on the part of government, and therefore is not likely to eventuate promptly. For example, in the area of the US economy, the national debt of US$7.5 trillion (amounting to US$25,000 for every man, women and child in the US), about half of which is held by foreigners external to the US, would have to be reined in. Generally speaking, with massive levels of debt in just about every American economic and commercial nook and cranny, there can never be international confidence in the green back and all that is related to it.
At the political level America has lost or is fast losing favor and the confidence of even its traditional allies. Many countries around the world are increasingly turning elsewhere for their security found among the array of choices embedded in the realities of the present and future geopolitical world. It is this trend (of course also aided by economic factors) that makes the appearance of potential superpowers like the EU, China and India, with increasing political clout, even more likely.
Simply, America with its relativistic and pragmatic politics has not been able to keep its allies closely aligned in all the various levels of strong international relationships for economy and politics.
America needs a more absolute set of values that can be relied upon in the spheres of economy and politics, so that loyalties can be maintained. Unfortunately for the US, its tainted policies that are largely based on pragmatic advantage, even though hypocritically justified with laudable American absolute high ideals, ultimately fool only the few.
In the area of the moral high ground, America has plunged in altitude. Many in the world, and particularly those of distant civilizations, believe that American values and lifestyle are decadent. For example, “fundamentalist Islamists [and terrorists perpetrating heinous crimes] regard the decadent West [and particularly the US] as a source of the evil values and lifestyle that is corroding Muslim society (Lewis, 2004, p. 21), hence the name ‘Great Satan’ for the contemptible United States of America” (Leigh, 2004) that attests to the extreme anti-American hatred an increasing mass of people worldwide feel. Obviously there are those around the world that take issue with American relativistic morality and its lifestyle in areas of: liberalism, rampant divorce, homosexuality, abuse of birth control and abortion, pluralism, multiculturalism, and extremes in individuality and materialism.
These fundamental differences, and the acquisition of political and economic might, within continental-sized civilizations, may lay the foundations for symptomatic progression towards civilizational clash.
The perception of many is that America is a civilization on the decline in all three areas of economy, politics and morality. So after some brutally frank soul searching, Americans would have to decide how they want their future. Will it be with morally mutable and consumeristic debt ridden society, in economic and political decline, and with decreasing international respect and clout, or a more morally taunt and frugal civilization, based on absolute values that are applied, nationally and internationally, irrespective of any apparent pragmatic advantage or disadvantage?
The lessons of history reveal that the present reawakening of Europe, typically by church and state, out of its last bout of necrophania will this time lead to a continental-sized revival of the Holy Roman Empire. This portends a European superstate destined to take its place in the looming multipolar world of other civilizational continent-wide superpowers.
Within this view we have sharpened our focus on the European continent (and its top 4 nations) to see that it is already beginning to have the required critical mass in the areas of economy, politics and prospective military development to take its place on the world stage. Europe re-forged, in the present arousal, will be tempered to a hardened dynamic resolve to successfully see the contemporary European project through to stunning completion. In this crescendo, Europe may vie for preeminence and hegemonic superiority in the nuclear fray of superpowers.
There is no evidence to suggest the new European superpower will be any more benign than other superpowers have been throughout history. Indeed the lessons of history declare that a strong Europe, with international influence, typically throws the world into a turbulent period of readjustment, and this has invariably led to economic, political and eventually military conflict. As there is much to suggest the aroused European combine will be pursuing its “rightful” place in the world’s economic, political and military arenas, the Americans (and any allies they will then have left) may find themselves confronted with a titanic challenge or struggle very soon.
In our final European vantage point let us take an analogy from the apothecaries: If the European leaders, aided and abetted by the Holy See, pommel and stir with the Christian pestle, in the European mortar, to re-blend the new mix of (Roman) church and state, with its revitalized values of “universal absolutes”, there may eventually be no room for Islam or any other infidel or apostate civilization in their field of influence.
A new world (dis)order, with competing superpowers, may be in the making, and if so, there will be new challenges at a scale that mankind has never faced before. As humanity is confronted with inter-continental conflicts of interest, each protagonist power bloc will be supported with economic and military might of staggering magnitude. Will humanity have the wisdom, or at least the restraint, to handle these emerging critical contests in the world of post-globalization?
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