Opinion: Can Europe become Western again? | Chattanooga Times Free Press

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For the first time in a millennium, Europe will neither promote Western civilization nor play an important role in world history.

As it should. About 750 million people live on the European subcontinent.

Europe still remains the most popular tourist destination on earth. Its sacred architecture, art, infrastructure and natural beauty remind millions of visitors of what was once the world’s most dynamic and great civilization.

Still, European countries, both inside and outside the EU, produce a combined gross domestic product of $24 trillion, second only to the United States.

European exports are among the world’s most desirable cars, advanced technologies and valuable industrial products.

However, since World War II, Europe’s role in world affairs has been declining, despite its membership in NATO and the growth of the European Union.


The horrors of the 20th century, the First and Second World Wars, in which approximately 70 million Europeans were killed, were Europe’s collective suicide. The ensuing Cold War was based on protecting a relatively unarmed Europe from a nuclear Soviet empire on Europe’s borders.

But as World War II and the Cold War faded into memory, Europe did not retreat and regain its historic role as world leader and symbol of Western civilization.

Instead, a tired Europe surrendered its security to America. It presents itself as a postmodern, pacifist, socialist utopian project – recently predicted on redistributive rights, open borders and radical green policies, all of which have confirmed the failure of Europe.

Although Europe has vast untapped hydroelectric, nuclear, coal and natural gas power, its green religion has shut down existing plants as well as new nuclear and fossil fuel generation. The result is that European energy prices are very expensive for the public and industry.

Recent economic growth has been zero across the eurozone. The EU’s to-the-grave social network and high government directives and restrictions on economic activity are increasingly unsustainable.

Few European countries spend less than 2% of their GDP on defence. As a result, Europe as a whole and NATO members cannot defend their continent without the help of the United States.

And Europe cannot project power beyond its shores to prevent threats to its own horizons or to its allies.

Europe is also shrinking and aging. The combined birth rate of 1.5 is much lower than the replacement rate. Most young people in Europe—the ancient home of Christendom—express no belief in God or organized religion.

In many European countries, immigrants of foreign origin make up 20 percent of the population. Most of the poor, uneducated, arrived en masse, illegally, with no desire to fully integrate, from pretend countries, and with political and religious views hostile to Europe.

The other part of the west is in slightly better condition.

The United States is teetering on just under $33 trillion in national debt.

After accepting various bankrupt academic critical legal “theories,” major American cities are unsafe, unhealthy, and invisible. America’s southern border is open. As of January 2021, eight million illegal aliens have entered, most of them hostile to the United States.

America is divided politically, racially, and ethnically. It has mysteriously decided not to fully exploit its vast natural resources, especially gas, oil and rare earth metals.

In this gap, the enemies of the West see only opportunity.

Russia invades Europe, Ukraine. Its continued incursions still alarm NATO countries on the front line.

China has regularly retaliated against Taiwan, threatening its neighbors, jamming US ships and planes, and controlling its currency, markets and trade.

Iran has armed anti-Western terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas to the teeth.

Iran’s “Shiite Crescent” from Tehran to Damascus to Beirut to Palestine threatens both pro-Western Arab governments and Israel.

Iran claims that its successors can destroy Israel and will soon have nuclear weapons with global reach to both the US and Europe.

Hamas attacked Israel on October 7th, perhaps thinking that the current generation of Westerners in Israel, America and Europe would not react too strongly to its actual brutality if it brought about a subsequent chaotic war.

Peace in the world at large can only be achieved when a strong US, together with its European allies, secures its borders, protects the world’s maritime and airspaces, supports constitutional and pro-Western governments, and fends off thugs.

Perhaps as the clouds of war gather and enemies multiply, Europe will rediscover her heritage and awaken to her historic role.

An increasingly isolated US – and the rest of the world – need the return of a healthy and powerful European ally, one that has risen from its self-initiated slumber and resumed its ancient role of saving civilization from its burgeoning enemies.

Victor Davis Hansen is a historian at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

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