Book Review: The Next Superpower?

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The Next Superpower?

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Last May the French voted 'no' to the European Constitution. Ever since, many have speculated that the European project is stalled or halted. Nothing could be further from the truth. The European Community is still a potent force in world affairs and growing larger. Anyone who thinks Europe will not be a player, if not the player, on the future geopolitical scene does not understand our current world. A Page on the World shows how the structure of the European colossus is building, one layer at a time.

Rockwell Schnabel wrote this book after serving as United States Ambassador to the European Union from 2001 to 2005. He is a businessman from California, born in the Netherlands but raised in America.

Most Americans do not appreciate the significance of what has developed in Europe during the past 50 years. Many see the union as nothing more than a trading bloc, if it even shows up on their radar screens. Even the experts, such as former American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, as recently as 1999 dismissed the euro (the EU common currency) as a "failure." Yet Europe has become an economic power in today's world and is well on the path to becoming a global power of the first magnitude.

Not everyone has so lightly dismissed the EU. Some recognize the threat the EU poses to American economic and geopolitical dominance. In September 2003 an article appeared in the American magazine The Weekly Standard entitled, "Against United Europe." The article was written by a British journalist and advocated an anti-EU strategy by developing ties with Eastern member states and advising Britain not to adopt the euro. It concluded: "It is not too late for the United States to help stop the European superstate from becoming a reality."

Schnabel argues that the EU is a reality, that there is no turning back despite the problems of the constitution and the current talks over the admission of Turkey. He does, however, look at the EU as a guarantee of stability among its members and a force for democracy and Western values in neighboring countries. America, in his view, needs to learn how to work with this rising power to insure a continued voice in world affairs. Bible prophecy shows America will be eclipsed on the world stage by a power centered in Europe.

The core of the book is Chapters Two and Three, "The European Union as an Economic Superpower" and "The European Union as a Geopolitical Superpower."

Chapter Two begins with a definition of the term "superpower" from the Oxford English Dictionary: "[a state] which has the power to act decisively in pursuit of interests which embrace the whole world." Through a complex bureaucracy that includes myriad rules, laws, statutes and standards, the EU has managed to thwart such powerful businesses as Microsoft and General Electric from business deals in Europe. Farmers in Indiana plant only acceptable crops so as not to lose access to the lucrative European market. Even Ronald McDonald (McDonalds) was forced to alter chemicals used in soft plastic toys placed in Happy Meals because it did not meet exacting EU standards. Simply put, the EU has in place a regulatory regime that it seeks to impose on the rest of the world. This could have large consequences for the innovation and growth of U.S. businesses, since the EU promotes its way of regulation to the rest of the world.

This obsession with regulation has led one EU trade negotiator to say the world suffers from "a deficit of global rules." This logic leads to the conclusion that pollution, poverty and disease do not respect national borders in a global economy. Therefore, the solution is "global governance." "The main role of the European Union in international affairs, both political and economical, must be to give teeth and to give bite to the multilateralism," says Pascal Lamy, director-general of the World Trade Organization. Lamy quotes EU father Jean Monnet that the EU is "nothing but a step towards the organization of tomorrow's world."

Such statements bring to mind the description in Revelation 18 of a world economic system that dominates the end time events.

The book describes the difference between "hard" and "soft" power. Hard power is military and economic might, both of which America possesses in abundance. The EU does not have the same degree of military status as America, something that has become evident in recent years. Soft power is a co-optive power, the ability to manipulate another nation through the attractiveness of one's culture or values. It is this soft power, the ability to coerce favorable actions from other nations without intervention, where the EU is gaining ground.

Chapter Three describes how the EU is developing the geopolitical power to enforce its economic status. A 2004 CIA think tank report stated: "The EU, rather than NATO, will increasingly become the primary institution for Europe, and the role which Europeans shape for themselves on the world stage is most likely to be projected through it."

Europe knows the major problems of today's world (weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) will demand their direct action. Their goal is to guarantee their own security entirely without U.S. assistance. That day has not yet arrived, but they have plans to develop their own military defense. Economic, demographic and political forces are rising that will force the EU to act on its own behalf apart from the confines of the old Atlantic alliance. Large events propel large responses. And history shows the result is not always what the architects planned. Europe is not a "museum" of the past. It is rising from among the nations as a superpower, and in time it will be part of the largest world power bloc ever known. Bible prophecy shows us the outline of what is to come. This book shows some of the details and helps us understand how it is developing.

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