A Perspective on the EU


I thought I'd pass along this item from Claire Berlinski's newsletter (subscribe here), written by a pseudonymous friend of hers:

The project of a united Europe has never been objectionable to me, despite its status as an object of reflexive loathing on the American right. We've forgotten just what a bloody and dangerous font of violence Europe used to be—costing hundreds of thousands of American lives in the process—and so we forget that a deadening bureaucracy suffocating the Continent is a much preferable alternative to the historical precedent.

The European Union then is preferable to the bloc politics and subjugation that characterized most of European history. Churchill understood it, and the French strategists who saw the value in a superstructure tying Germany to themselves understood it.

Nevertheless the EU is dead. Consider:

  • The European Union was unable to prevent or persuade against the secession of one of its largest constituent nations.
  • The European Union was unable to play any meaningful role in a pandemic that ravaged several of its member states.
  • The European Union was unable to prevent or preclude a Russian military mission entering one of its major member states.
  • The European Union was unable to prevent, or bring consequences for, one of its member states from sliding from democratic liberality to authoritarian dictatorship.
  • The European Union was unable to muster the political will to withstand pressure from the Communist Party of China.
  • The European Union was unable to provide credible security guarantees to its member states as NATO went into precipitous decline.

The European Union is dead. Something will arise in its place. But this is Europe: we should be prepared for the possibility it will be something worse.

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  1. Everyone’s afraid to say this, but just let Germany take over. They have the biggest and strongest economy, the political class least likely to do stupid things, a commitment to democracy and inclusion, and according to a recent survey are the world’s most popular country.

    1. No thanks. We are afraid for good reason.

      1. I’m especially afraid of Japan. They attacked us at Pearl Harbor.

        1. I’m even more afraid of Mongolia, which conducted a campaign of slaughter, genocide, rape and destruction in the 1200s which resulted in history’s largest contiguous empire. But why the lack of concern these days about Mongolia? Quite suspicious, if you ask me!

          1. “why the lack of concern these days about Mongolia?
            Quite suspicious, if you ask me!”

            Suppose they got ahold of an American political candidate, and then brainwashed him? I mean, he’d probably come across as a bumbling buffoon. But that’s not really a bar to becoming elected!

            1. Manchuria is not Mongolia.

              1. “All Asians are alike.”

              2. So Mongolians can’t watch movies?

          2. The viciousness of the Mongols is much exaggerated.

            No, they weren’t nice, but whether they were worse than European conquerors is not clear.

            Ask Native Americans what they think about it.

            1. That is a remarkably ignorant statement. The Mongols killed 10% of the worlds population at the time of their conquests. Ghengis Khan is the world’s most prolific rapist. The Mongols would do things like build wooden platforms and have victory feasts upon them with the still living bodies of their conquered slowing being crushed to death.

              The Indians, some 80-90% that the Europeans killed, died of smallpox and disease in an era before the germ theory of disease. This is not to mention the gift of syphilis that was brought back to Europe from the Indians and which ravaged untold multitudes over the following centuries.

              I’m not saying things were nicey-nice, but I’m saying there are qualitative and quantitative differences, and the Mongols were vicious monsters even for an era of brutal warfare.

              1. Mongol war policy was to kill everybody who was on the land they wanted to take. Kill all the people, poison the wells, and avoid problems with peasant uprisings later. Both simple and effective, although it doesn’t encourage your enemies to consider surrendering

            2. Well yes.

              At least the Mongols weren’t really interested in planting families, creating future generations, and making the land productive for mercantile purposes.

              Hardly makes a difference to the indigenous peoples who saw their families murdered and their culture exterminated.

              1. You do realize that most of the deaths happened through disease, right?

                1. Look up “blankets” and “smallpox” and you will see that much of the infection was deliberate.

                  1. I did. There appears to be one confirmed example during a siege, which might have killed eighty people.

        2. It probably would be bad if Japan successfully took over all of Europe.

      2. [singing]
        …♫♪ We taught them a lesson, in 1918,
        And they’ve hardly bothered us since then. ♪♪ ♫♫

        1. Which is precisely why our defensive posture should be against Japan rather than China. China never attacked us and Japan has.

          1. China has never attacked us?
            Why are we all wearing masks?

          2. China never attacked us
            Not on our territory. They did declare war and attack US forces during the Boxer Rebellion.

          3. ” China never attacked us”

            You learned a very different version of the Korean War than I did, apparently.

    2. Germany has the political class least likely to do stupid things? They started three wars in 70 years. Who else has done worse?

      Russia is worse, but they aren’t part of the EU.

      1. We should stop hitting Germans over the head for the sins of their grandparents. Unlike Southern White Americans, they have exorcised their past.

      2. How far back in the past do we have to look? France was the primary belligerent on the continent for hundreds of years. Can we forgive them yet?

        1. France was the primary belligerent on the continent for hundreds of years.

          Nope. Other than Napoleon Bonaparte’s brief rule, France spent most of the last 1000 years being invaded by others and in internal wars between different “French” duchies, principalities, etc.

          1. Look up Louis XIV, Martinet, Haiti,

          2. Louis XI, XII, XXIV, XIII, Philip III & IV, Charles VIII, Francis I….

            You also apparently don’t know how the Italian Renaissance ended. It was an incredibly destructive French invasion.

            1. But at least they pronounced it right!

              (Henry Higgins)

          3. “Other than Napoleon Bonaparte’s brief rule, France spent most of the last 1000 years being invaded by others ”

            Don’t foget about their American operations. By which I do not mean the Quebecois or even Louisiana but the Mexican operation. Timely, too. Cinco de Mayo celebrates a defeat of the French.

      3. ” They started three wars in 70 years. Who else has done worse?”

        I know of one. They actually used atomic weapons against population centers, if you can believe it.

        1. Look up the stats if you dare.

          Two atom bombings killed 200K if you’re being especially generous. That compares to all the previous firebombings which probably killed a million, and the Holocaust, which killed 6-10 million.

          Meanwhile, the Japanese were killing hundreds of thousands of Chinese, Indonesians, and others every month. I believe they killed 400K in each of the last three months prior to the atom bombings.

          An actual invasion would have probably killed ten million Japanese and hundreds of thousands of Americans.

          The atom bombs cut the war short by a year or more and saved 10-20 million Asian lives in addition to up to 1 million American lives.

          Take your revisionist propaganda and stuff it where the facts are hidden from daylight.

          1. Isn’t this more a matter of consequentialism vs deontological ethics than facts?

            1. 200K dead vs 10 million dead. You got a problem with that? Your ethics must be pretty damned weird.

              1. Well I know how you’d answer the Trolly Problem. And I wouldn’t say Kantian ethics are “weird” they just don’t always provide good answers to problems. But that’s not to say consequentialist/utilitarian approaches work all the time either. They can be used to justify some very bad things. And Rawls demonstrated somewhat convincingly that no one would actually want pure consequentialist/utilitarian societies.

                The main problem with defenses to the atomic bombings are that, they’re” used as a way of endorsing “ends justify the means” approaches to a host of problems that don’t actually warrant them at all.

                1. The implication is that the alternative means were morally preferable. But is the basis for the moral objection really the nukes or is it the civilian targets? And either way, how is the alternative preferable?

                  If the moral objection really is over the means, why? What makes dying in a conventional fireball preferable to dying in a nuclear fireball? And if the objection is the civilian targets, or the number of civilian deaths, (in both cases making Hiroshima and Nagasaki hard to distinguish from Tokyo, Hamburg, Dresden, etc.,) why is the problem so often framed as the nukes, not the targets?

                  FWIW I believe good arguments have evolved over the last 75 years for classifying nukes as a prohibited category of weapons, but relying on those arguments to condemn Truman’s decision to nuke Japan seems to me to require a healthy dose of hindsight bias.

              2. “200K dead vs 10 million dead. You got a problem with that? ”
                I’ll take “false dichotomies” for $1000, Alex

              3. “? Your ethics must be pretty damned weird.”

                An odd thing to say if you’re defending atomic bombings.

          2. Atomic bombs were not necessary to win the war.

            You can ask Churchill, Eisenhower, Leahy, etc. People who were in the thick of it and knew.

            1. And yet, others who were also in the thick of it did seem to feel it was necessary … which is why it was in fact used.

              The Japanese were mounting a campaign titled “The Glorious Death of One Hundred Million”. The wiki article describes it as:

              “The main message of “The Glorious Death of One Hundred Million” campaign was that it was “glorious” to die for the holy emperor of Japan, and every single Japanese man, woman, and child should die for the Emperor when the Allies arrived.”

              That was pretty close to what happened on Okinawa; you may have seen the video of Japanese mothers throwing their infants off and them jumping from the Okinawa cliffs.

              Here is a photo of schoolgirls being trained to fight the Americans with sharpened sticks.

              And it’s not like the Japanese were on the verge of surrender – after Nagasaki, when Hirohito decided to intervene and surrender, there was an attempted coup d’état to stop him.

              Lastly, Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined resulted in fewer deaths that the Tokyo incendiary raid of March ’45. Would it have been better if Hiroshima and Nagasaki were just firebombed conventionally instead?

              One can make moral arguments about WWII era strategic bombing in general, but it’s hard to explain why Hiroshima or Nagasaki are worse than the other raids like Tokyo and Hamburg.

              1. “And yet, others who were also in the thick of it did seem to feel it was necessary … which is why it was in fact used.”

                Ask the Germans whether or not the a-bomb was necessary to end the war.

                The a-bomb was used to cow Russia, not Japan. Having pushed the German military machine east and meeting the Russians headed west, the other Allies were concerned about whether or not they could keep the Russians from pushing west all the way to the Atlantic. So we had to show them we could do it, if we had to.

                1. Ask the Germans whether or not the a-bomb was necessary to end the war.

                  How would the Germans know whether the Japanese were willing to surrender without the use of atomic bombs against them?

            2. Were they necessary to win the war? No. But would you, captcrisis, be comfortable in 1945 in Truman’s shoes knowing hundreds of thousands, if not a million or more, would die, if you invaded Japan in the manner that Germany was?

              Well, would you make the call to not use the super weapon and win the war early, saving countless lives, many of them your own fellow countrymen?

              1. Truman et al also considered mounting an intensive blockade. It would have taken a year or two, and the closeness of Korea would have made it deadly for Americans and still leaky. There was a real question of whether the American public would have put up with a year or two of stalemate and no progress.

                A lot of people don’t understand the reason for unconditional surrender and think it just shows how bloodthirsty the Allies were. In fact, WW I ended without Germany’s army being beaten into submission and without a real surrender, just a political truce which inspired the “stacb in the back” surrender which led to the Holocaust. That experience was why they insisted on a true unconditional surrender next time. There was a real effort to force Germany to de-industrialize back into an agrarian society so they could never start a war again.

                All the Japanese peace feelers were for even worse than a repeat of the 1918-11-11 truce; they wanted to just stop fighting and keep that status quo, with them still occupying China, Indochina, Indonesia, etc. That was completely unacceptable.

                1. Truman et al also considered mounting an intensive blockade. It would have taken a year or two

                  And would have killed more Japanese civilians than the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

            3. No, I can’t ask Churchill, Eisenhower, Leahy, etc. But I can look at the record of those who made the decision, and I have. You could too, if you wanted some counter-arguments. I’ve laid ut some facts which add up to 200K dead vs 10M dead. How about you lay out what you think?

            4. You’re absolutely right, they weren’t necessary to win the war.

              They merely saved millions of Japanese civilian lives over the available alternatives.

              Only a sadistic monster would believe the mass starvation of an extended blockade, or the mass slaughter of an invasion, to have been methods preferable to the short, sharp shock of the atomic bombings to end the war.

              1. Saving lives that would be lost to an invasion is a retcon. We bombed Japan to get Stalin’s attention.

          3. “The atom bombs cut the war short by a year or more and saved 10-20 million Asian lives in addition to up to 1 million American lives.
            Take your revisionist propaganda”

            That’s YOUR revisionist propaganda. The atomic bomb was developed in the United States because we were afraid Hitler was trying to make one, and we wanted to get there first. Then we actually managed to beat Germany without it largely because the Russians put up way more fight than Hitler had expected. So at the end of the European war, Russia was pushing west and they were seriously pissed off at what the war had cost them. They were looking to head west and keep whatever they grabbed once the war was over. The other European allies were exhausted, and nobody was sure if they could hold the Russians back. Then, surprise! those nutty scientists out in the desert showed up with a working wonderweapon. But it was too late to use it on Germany and keep Stalin from pushing west. What good is a superweapon if nobodyknows you have it? You need to blow up Alderaan, not Dantooine, if you want your superweapon to create enough fear to let you rule. Fear. Fear will keep the local systems in line. So we used the atomic bomb on population centers. That gave us a four-year head start in the Cold War.

        2. No, those two cities were legitimate military targets, Dresden and Tokyo were more questionable, but that was just incendiaries.

        3. It’s almost as if the enemy specifically interspersed their war making capability with the civilian populace as much as possible or something.

        4. My late father-in-law credited the two atomic bombs for saving his life in WWII.

          But he wasn’t a GI, or in the US military, he was a lieutenant in the Japanese Imperial army just graduated in 1945 from the Japanese military academy, and assigned to command a company of infantry. He had been a student instructor in bayonet fighting, having recieved his 2nd degree blackbelt in bayonet fighting during his first couple of years at the academy.

          He estimated while there might have been 100,000 or more American casualties, the Japanese total, military and civilian would have been over a million.

          Japan was on the brink of starvation by then too. My mother in law related a story, about in the aftermath when American relief supplies started coming in they thought they were being supplied spoiled food, because obviously canned spinach in inedible and someone would have to be on the brink of starvation to eat it.

    3. Germany is about to take over. They will hold the Presidency of the Council in the second half of this year.

      And, obviously, the President of the Commission is German, as are the leaders of the EPP and Green Groups in the European Parliament, and the Managing Director of the European Stability Mechanism.

      1. Following up on santamonica’s comment:

        “One of the fingers on the button will be German.”

        1. That’s just racist.

          1. Germanic is a race now?

            1. If you say someone can’t be trusted based solely on his/her ethnicity, I call that racist.

              1. Any American official that has any contact with the Russians is a de facto traitor because the Russians by can’t be trusted solely on the basis of their ethnicity.

                I saw it every night on the news for two years.

            2. “Germanic is a race now?”

              They though it was back in the 1930’s.

    4. Sure, put Germany in charge. What could possibly go wrong?

  2. Technically, weren’t both world wars in Europe a result of efforts to create a “united Europe”?

    Maybe what’s really needed in Europe isn’t unity, it’s acceptance of non-unity.

    1. I don’t think “uniting Europe” has ever been an explanation for World War I.

      1. It was the “war to end all wars”.

    2. WWII, maybe.

      But WWI remains a mystery. Mostly everyone just blundered into it.

      Though after WWII I’m sure the Soviets would have loved to create a united Europe.

      1. “Though after WWII I’m sure the Soviets would have loved to create a united Europe.”

        But they couldn’t because we had the a-bomb and they didn’t. So they took the half of Europe they already had and stayed home.

  3. “much preferable alternative to the historical precedent”

    Its NATO, not the EU, which has kept the peace in Europe.

    Among other things, the US military presence and nuclear umbrella has permitted them to reduce their armies to constabulary status.

    1. “NATO, not the EU, which has kept the peace in Europe.”

      The leadership(?) of one of the NATO founders no longer sees a use for NATO.

      1. Well yes, the founders were of NATO assumed the President of the US would be an emotionally mature adult who could find Europe on a map.

        1. I think most of us assumed that anyone elected President of the United States would be an emotionally mature adult. But then we decided to go with a stable genius instead. Nobody tell him that if you’re either stable OR a genius, you don’t have to tell people about it.

  4. What was the purpose of the EU? Because I understood it as a weak confederation-like trading/regulatory body. The bullets seem to be treating it as a nation, which I don’t think it ever wanted to be.
    Especially, it’s not supposed to supplant NATO.

    Also: The European Union was unable to muster the political will to withstand pressure from the Communist Party of China.
    ?? What does this refer to?

    1. When Jimmy Carter was president, he tried to use American economic leverage to move China in a more democratic direction. The Europeans had no such scruples and made it plain that they would trade with China whether the US did or not. Which is why today the country slated to become the world’s largest economy is a brutal dictatorship rather than a liberal democracy.

      1. Oh sure, that’s why China never converted form Communism. Jimmy Carter could have done the trick if the EU had just had a little more backbone. The EU was so powerful that it could have democratized Red China is Jimmy Carter had just had a little more cooperation from the EU.

        No mention of Nixon. How convenient. It’s all down to Jimmy Carter and the EU.

        And when did this all happen? The Treaty of Rome was in effect from the 1950s until the Maastricht Treaty took over in the 1990s and created the EU. I had no idea Jimmy Carter was so powerful for so long. But I guess that explains the missing Nixon reference.

        1. I see you forgot to take your meds again.

          1. Everyone sees you forgot to present any facts or logic.

            1. So you’re speaking for everyone now?

              I gave the historical facts. I didn’t mention Nixon because the events in question happened several years after he left office so he was largely irrelevant. You’re correct that the EU didn’t exist at the time, which is why I didn’t mention it either; I said “the Europeans.” I realize that distinguishing “the Europeans” from “the EU” may require better reading comprehension than you’ve thus far shown yourself capable of, so I’ll try to use simpler words in the future.

              And yes, had “the Europeans” and Jimmy Carter presented a united front and insisted China liberalize as a condition of being brought into the global economy, China most likely would have done so.

              1. Yeah, because the only thing that turns Marxist dictatorships into thriving capitalist democratic republics is peer pressure. That’s why the Soviet Union only lasted a decade or so. Oh wait…

              2. Everyone else was discussing the EU. Either you were too, or you were changing the subject, or you were laying the background for the EU discussion. Either way, the EU was part of your comment, whether implicit or explicit.

                1. I was answering a specific question that had been asked.

              3. You are incredibly deluded if you think actually think Red China would have acquiesced to Jimmy Carter and Europe.

                1. In time they would have. They’d already had a taste of trade with the west and liked it. And even if not, Jimmy Carter at least deserves credit for trying.

    2. The EU apparently watered down a report about Chinese efforts to disseminate disinformation about Covid-19. Here’s the New York Times article: https://nyti.ms/2ztUcKD

    3. “Because I understood it as a weak confederation-like trading/regulatory body. The bullets seem to be treating it as a nation, which I don’t think it ever wanted to be.”

      It was a kind of bait and switch: It was sold to the electorates of the various nations as your weak trade confederation, but the people working on creating it intended to create a strong US style federation that would evolve towards being a unitary state.

        1. This :


          is rather a good article from 2007 by the former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, which explains the old bait and switch with admirable clarity.

          The background for what Prof Somin would call the low information voter –

          The ur-European Union guy Jean Monnet stated the real objective as far back as 1943 :

          <iThere will be no peace in Europe if the states are reconstituted on the basis of national sovereignty… The countries of Europe are too small to guarantee their peoples the necessary prosperity and social development. The European states must constitute themselves into a federation.

          But the tactic was always to move slowly and obliquely. But steadily. The European Coal and Steel Community became the European Economic Community which eventually beame the European Union.
          While clueless rubes like sarcastro imagined it was all about trade, it marched on to be the primary regulatory body for all EU states via a 1980s treaty, , to sweep in a Common Defense Policy and a Common Foreign Policy – unusual features in a trading bloc.

          Between treaties, the engine of advance was the European Court of Justice – a condition of membership was that EU law was superior to domestic law and that ECJ judgments were binding on all national courts. In many ways the EU already has more power over the domestic affairs of the EU nations, than the US federal government has over the affairs of the States. The US idea that commandeering is not allowed would cause a gale of laughter in Brussels.

          But it was all done in bits and pieces – half a dozen treaties since 1987 transforming it from mostly a trade bloc to mostly a federal state. But in 2005, the EU brahmins though they’d gone far enough along, that there was no escape – they could rip the mask off and reveal – a Constitution for Europe. This was the first time the final destination was revealed with trumpets for the delectation of the public.

          The public didn’t like it – with both the Dutch and the French voting it down – both rather pro EU countries unlike the perpetually recalcitrant Brits.

          So they simply repackaged it as Giscard explains, and there it is, effectively a federal state with a constitution. But with a flaw – it has an exit clause, which the Brits took. To the consternation of all – particularly the Brit brahmins.

          As to Claire Berlinkski’s point – it’s all past its sell by date. In 1950 one could care about dark forces in Europe rising again and posing a threat to peace. But Europe doesn’t matter any more. Sure, if it was truly a united nation it coud be a powerful military force, but the individual components – even Germany – are much too small and feeble to challenge the US or China.

          Russia, though a syphiitic wreck still has a pile of nukes, but it is not capable of any serious boots on the ground military activity, and in any event it’s not really a European power. Worrying about the rise of dark forces in Europe is like worrying about the rise of dark forces in South America. Bad for some of the locals but irrelevant to the world.

          1. Governments at all levels seek to grow because they are lousy with politicians who go into power to enrich themselves. The more power, the richer they and their relatives mysteriously become.

            Ergo it was trivial to predict the EU would turn into a federal United States government, growing and growing in power and regulating that carrots are fruit so carrot jelly can be called so without carrot jelly makers having to go to jail.

            “Only economics?” My childlike friends, control of that is where the money comes from, and why they go into government.

      1. I’m not even sure how much it was sold as a weak confederation. I spent some time in Europe when the whole thing was winding up, and there were very palpable efforts to forge a common European identity among the youth.

        I remember seeing a survey where one of the questions was, “Do you consider yourself more European or more [your nationality].” The people I knew felt that they considered themselves more European, although I felt that this was not remotely the case.

        1. I don’t know how it started, but that’s how it presents itself now.

          Which makes the article in the OP kinda using the wrong standards of efficacy.

          1. If it started as an attempt to build a European nation, and now presents itself as a weak regulatory body, that pretty much reinforces the article’s point.

            1. Even assuming you are correct about how it started (which I don’t yet believe, considering how nationalism and preserving sovereignty plays) I don’t see why how it started matters.

              If you’re going to attack a thing, attack it on it’s own current terms. Don’t, without saying what you’re doing, attack it using past terms. That’s disingenuous.

              1. The EU, like the USA, is a great many different things to a great many different people. Rand Paul and Chuck Schumer wouldn’t describe the central mission of the US Federal government in the same terms either.

  5. The European Union was unable to prevent or preclude a Russian military mission entering one of its major member states.

    What is this a reference too? Ukraine is not an EU member state. Neither is Georgia. Did I miss a Russian re-invasion into the Baltic states??

    1. Yeah, that’s a puzzle. Is it referring to some minor border incursion into Turkey from Syria? Turkey is NATO but not EU, so unlikely. Maybe some other minor kerfuffle in the Balkans?

      It’d have to be pretty darned minor.

      1. The only state in the Balkans in the EU is Slovenia and Russia has not invaded it. I was referring to the Baltics – Lithuania, Latvia & Estonia, all EU – which I am positive Russia has not invaded (since 1990 at least).

        1. Your reference to the Baltics does not preclude my references to the Balkans.

        2. And Croatia (2013)

    2. I was puzzled by this too, so I asked Berlinski, and she said it was a reference to a controversial Russian military medical aid mission to Rome a few weeks ago, see here — not any sort of invasion, but something that the author seemed to think was troubling (perhaps for some of the reasons discussed in the news stories about it).

      1. “I was puzzled by this too,”

        FWIW, I know people who follow Russian news, and I knew exactly what it was a reference to. I don’t think I’ve seen any reference to it on US news, but my Russian connections thought it significant enough to bring up in conversation to me.

      2. The statement about the “military mission” is clearly disingenuous and casts doubt on the rest.

  6. Europe could have been unified long ago, for better or for worse, If Napoleon had just been satisfied with the Eurozone.

    1. Nope. English, later British, foreign policy has – for something like 500 years – been to resist the emergence of a dominant continental power.

      And though usually weak on land, Britain has always had a very strong Navy and very deep pockets. Napoleon would have been content with the Eurozone, but Britain was happy to support the Prussians or the Austrians or the Russians or the Portuguese – whoever was resisting him. And the fact that they had deep pockets and a Navy meant that they could assist meaningfully.

      And in the end their scheming, their Navy, their money and their alliances broke him.

      1. You have a good point that the British would always have opposed and conspired against Napoleon. But the other half of my point is that he went a little too far East, and couldn’t conquer Winter. My suggestion is that if he had stopped his march East somewhere on the edge of where the Roman alphabet was used, the Western edge of the Schism of 1054, that would have been a reasonable definition of ruling and uniting Europe. And if he had gone southeast into the Balkans, perhaps he could have pushed the Ottomans out, and been even more a hero to ‘Europe.’ That could have been a viable project. Who knows how long it could have held together, with his relatives and friends appointed as vassal kings of various countries. But for a time. But he succeeded as long as he did because he was bringing uniformity and order to a region which had been a patchwork since Westphalia. It was in many ways a welcome unity, and since Napoleon had no particular use or need for the Church, one way or the other he could have tolerated the denominational distinctions within his realm, creating unity the secular Civil level.

        As you say, the British had the means to remain apart, and would probably have prevailed over time in their overseas colonies. But I believe there’s some core of Europe which could have been unified, at that time, if Napoleon had restrained his ambitions. Oh what could have been?

        1. Nappy might well have united western Europe for a while, but look at all the trouble he had in Spain with his relative (brother? cousin?) on the throne, and imagine how much more trouble he would have had elsewhere. Even if his personality and troops had managed to hold it together for a while, it would have splintered back to national borders on his death. His army was too expensive to keep standing around in peace, and no one else matched his military genius.

          1. Rome held all of Europe, and it didn’t/couldn’t last.

  7. I don’t think it’s the bureaucrats, international courts and other European organizations which kept West Europeans from each others’ throats. It was the Soviet threat plus, perhaps, exhaustion from all those wars.

    If (Lord forbid) the Europeans decided to go for each others’ throats again, no amount of international agencies would be able to stop them, just the fear of retaliation from some other armed power.

    1. I think 2016 has conclusively proved that democracies are very capable of voting to do stupid sh*t. (If Thucydides didn’t prove that already.) But at least the existence of the European Union ensures that going to war would be several orders of magnitude more stupid even than Brexit or electing Trump.

      The pooling of coal and steel production should immediately provide for the setting up of common foundations for economic development as a first step in the federation of Europe, and will change the destinies of those regions which have long been devoted to the manufacture of munitions of war, of which they have been the most constant victims. The solidarity in production thus established will make it plain that any war between France and Germany becomes not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible.

      1. The options in the UK were not between independence on the one hand and Tennyson’s utopian “Parliament of Man, the federation of the world” on the other. It was between independence and subordination to a crooked organization.

        And the options in the U. S. were not between Trump and Glinda the Good Witch of the South. It was between Trump and Hillary Clinton, who was a whole lot less magical and special than Glinda.

        1. Begging the question on the EU pretty hard. Funny, because you managed not to with Hillary which would seem a bigger lift.

          1. Sorry, an insult doesn’t work if it’s that incoherent.

            1. If Eddy doesn’t get it it’s not an insult. Everybody got that?

      2. “I think 2016 has conclusively proved that democracies are very capable of voting to do stupid sh*t.”

        Well, when all you have to vote for is two versions of stupid shit…

        1. When the salesman forgets to mention that part of what you’re being sold is an armed border with Ireland you can maybe get a little bit of slack for not realizing you’re voting for an armed border with Ireland. Besides, being mad at Ireland is kind of the English way of life.

  8. Tl;DR “the European Union is dead because it doesn’t do a whole bunch of things it was never supposed to do, and is legally precluded from doing”.

    The death of the European Union has been predicted many times, and yet it’s still here.

    Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity.

  9. The EU is best compared to earlier organizations that have attempted to combine and foster compromise between nations with different interests — the UN, before that the League of Nations, and before that the Congress of Vienna.

    What all these have in common is that, at heart, they were never really representative of the people or nations they tried to govern. Rather, each one arose at the end of a major war, was dominated by the winners of that war, and was mainly an attempt to freeze the results of that war in place, so that they wouldn’t have to fight it again anytime soon.

    And quite predictably, after a few years, when all sides had rebuilt their economies, each set of losers became restless enough that they were willing to try another war, and the existence of the international body did nothing to dissuade them. The Congress and the League quietly disbanded at that point, and I’m confident that the UN and EU will too. And almost certainly within the next decade.

    The EU has lasted as long as it has, mainly out of nostalgia. At one time or another in the last 600 years, nearly all its member countries were the seats of large empires, and the EU enables them to imagine that they still are. But the EU combines an unwieldy bureaucracy comparable to most of those past empires with a lack of ability to enforce its dictates that reminds one of the US under the Articles of Confederation. Only in their case, a constitutional convention is unlikely to help: they had one as recently as 1990, and the “guarantees” it made are jokes now — especially the absolute ban on any country or the ECB having to bail out a country having a debt crisis. If that had been enforced, Greece would have been out of the Euro about 2012 at latest. With Britain gone, Germany is now supporting the smaller members pretty much by themselves. I can’t see that going on long, and if they pull out, the Euro simply has to disappear.

    The EU’s big problem, though, is Brussels’ demand that member countries allow themselves to be flooded with Middle Eastern migrants, who have brought a huge crime wave with them. Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain are suffering hugely as a result, but all five have responded primarily by fining for “racism” anyone who tries to publicize the problem. Only Poland and Hungary have refused to go along, and they may be forced out of the EU if the impasse continues. Or any of the countries I named may elect more sensible leaders and defy Brussels, too.

    And finally, we have the spectacle of the Turks forcing open Greek border crossings to let more migrants through. This is an act of war, and I expect a NATO call-up over it any day. (Which would also mean Turkey gets booted out of NATO and it’s about time!)

    Any one of these issues would make the continuation of the EU unlikely. And all of them are happening at once. The nations of Europe better head for divorce court now, before the shooting starts.

    1. “ The EU’s big problem, though, is Brussels’ demand that member countries allow themselves to be flooded with Middle Eastern migrants”

      If the original goal of the EU was to be like the US, then step one is to become a nation of immigrants. From that perspective, it looks like they are going down the right path.

    2. At one level you are right, “The EU’s big problem, though, is Brussels’ demand that member countries allow…” but you are going for the specific example of immigration, which may have been the straw which broke the camel’s back. But that’s just the last and worst examples of demands by the Brussels bureaucrats to over-extend the requirements for uniformity. To move the EU from the earlier Con-federation of “Coal and Steel Community”, “Federation” of “Common Market” toward a target of Unitary state. Germany has been a federal republic, so the concept of a Federal state was there, but France and other members had never been Federated states; didn’t have a lot of intellectual/political history with federalism, and so the central bureaucracy tend to be centralists, whatever particular center they come from. Central bureaucrats want uniformity. “One size fits all” doesn’t work in an obviously diverse region, and rubs badly on the local populations. But once Brussels became the capital for bureaucrats with authority, overreach was almost fore-ordained.

    3. What all these have in common is that, at heart, they were never really representative of the people or nations they tried to govern.

      If only the EU had some kind of democratic decision making process…

      But seriously, all these nationalist numpties keep pulling the same bait and switch: The EU can’t have power because it isn’t democratic, and it shouldn’t be made more democratic because, euh, reasons.

  10. Can one of the Volokh authors please post an article on the interesting stuff going on in Michigan? Analysis on the emergency powers laws, the legislatures role in oversight vs. the governor’s ability to continue renewing them ad-infinitum and and what avenues for relief the citizenry would have given legitimate abuse.

  11. “The project of a united Europe has never been objectionable to me, despite its status as an object of reflexive loathing on the American right.”
    We on the right find no problem with a united Europe. Just like here in America, we support the concept of a limited federal government … which progressives and liberals have made very unlimited over the past 100 or so years. The empowered EU bureaucracy that has evolved is even less limited than here in America. We accordingly do loath and pity what has happened in the Europe … and take heart that the failures over there will serve as good lessons for all in America.
    Liberty is a both precious and fragile, and ought to be of much greater concern to everyone, everywhere.

    1. very unlimited


      The empowered EU bureaucracy that has evolved is even less limited than here in America


    2. Our version of the commerce clause is subject to strict supervision by the CJEU, which quashes legislation on vires grounds all the time. (The go to precedent, which is getting a little old by now, is Tobacco Advertising.)

      And any libertarian should enjoy the CJEU’s case law on Measures Having Equivalent Effect (to trade barriers), which is the EU’s equivalent to the dormant commerce clause. Lots of national regulation gets quashed that way, and even fundamentally sensible things, like the Scottish minimum unit price for alcohol, are subject to strict scrutiny

      1. P.S. the litigation about the Scottish minimum unit price for alcohol involves too many judgments to link here, but it’s basically all of these except the first one and the last one.

  12. Reality is that a F-15 can go 1,650 MPH, Europe is too compact to fight a modern war in.

    1. Gee, I guess it’s a good thing that nobody in Europe controls any territory outside of Europe, then. Note also that Israel has F-15’s and so does Iran, and they seem bent on fighting a “modern” war with each other.

  13. I’m an American lawyer who has lived and worked in Europe for the last 30 years, mostly in Vienna, Austria. IMO, the EU is going through a time of transition and reality checking: up to now the main impulse seems to have been to create, build, connect – all bureaucracies and bureaucratic groupings. Europe started out as way more socialist/government interventionist than the US, and the EU just built a superstructure on top of that – often without any push back or clear purposing, just the impulse that “it’s good for European integration.” Hard times make choices necessary and the EU might collapse from its current trials, but it might just start the hard work of prioritizing what its mission(s) really is (are). Only time will tell.
    Just as a commentary about Germany’s role: For years I have responded to self important German guests encountered at parties by telling them that Germany is viewed (by Europeans I have encountered) as the America of Europe, i.e a country with much internal power, but little love from other countries. That is the German situation and speaks against Germany rising higher in a European leadership role.

    1. Famously the purpose of the EU is to hide Germany’s strength and France’s weakness…

    2. 30 years later, has Germany finally managed to integrate the DDR?
      I remember being told stories in the 1990s ranging from unemployed men sitting around all day at beer halls to young (western) men going to the east because they were cheaper dates.

  14. Meanwhile, in other “Europe rules the world” news:

    Finland rejected 104,000 kilograms (that’s 229,280 pounds) of oranges grown in Israel because they were grown using a pesticide banned since 2011. What a waste. (JPost)

    Outside of Coronavirus times, every week John Oliver has another story about some horrible practice that is inexplicably legal in the US. The only reason why American’s aren’t poisoned and otherwise abused more often is because many European regulations effectively protect the entire world.

    1. *chuckle*

      Europeans have unscientific aversions to GMOs and modern agriculture which are used as a pretext to flout free trade agreements. This has no effect on Americans outside of being unfairly detrimental to US agricultural exports.

      I don’t know what interesting anecdotes ludicrous propagandist John Oliver has offered.

  15. Looking to the near future, what is the EU going to do when Italy defaults on its loans? For that matter, what is the US going to do when Italy defaults on its loans?

    1. Let us worry about what the US is going to do when the US defaults on its loans, and let Italy worry about Italy.

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