"The European Union is the greatest threat to American interests in the world today." So said T.R. Reid on NPR's Diane Rehm Show toward the end of December. Mr. Reid is a Washington Post correspondent who was the head of the paper's London bureau for years. His interview was to promote his new book The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy.
After being interviewed by Ms. Rehm, Mr. Reid took call-in questions. One caller asked him if the European Union was a fulfillment of Bible prophecies about the coming Beast power. Mr. Reid clearly did not know anything about this.
His book, then, is a strictly secular account by an American observer of the contemporary European scene. And his book backs up his point that the EU is the greatest threat to American interests in the world at this time—greater even than Islamic terrorism. A threat does not have to be violent to be serious.
"At the dawn of the twenty-first century, a geopolitical revolution of historic dimensions is under way across the Atlantic: the unification of Europe. Twenty-five nations have joined together—with another dozen or so on the waiting list—to build a common economy, government, and culture. Europe is a more integrated place today than at any time since the Roman Empire." So begins the "Prologue" to Mr. Reid's book.
He adds on the same page: "The New Europe cannot match American military strength (and doesn't want to, for that matter). But it has more votes in every international organization than the United States, and it gives away far more money in development aid. The result is global economic and political clout that makes the European Union exactly what its leaders want it to be: a second superpower that can stand on an equal footing with the United States."
Nine chapters follow looking at different aspects of the EU, showing clearly how the nations of Europe have actually surpassed the United States in many ways. As Mr. Reid points out, only in the military area is the United States still ahead. But events elsewhere in the world show there is a limit to what American military power can achieve!
Mr. Reid's book is long overdue. The European Union has been developing into a formidable challenge to American power for many decades. One of the biggest turning points in the U.S.-EU balance of power was the introduction of the euro just over three years ago. Americans are addicted to overspending, both on the personal and at the governmental level. The result is a falling U.S. dollar and a rising euro, significantly altering the economic balance of power in the world. This trend looks set to continue.
Watch out if the oil-producing countries start pricing their oil in euros!
The 25 countries of the EU are a bigger market and a bigger single economy than the United States. The population of the EU is more than 50 percent greater than that of the United States. But this is only part of the picture. Through its trade deals, the EU's tentacles spread into every part of the world, giving it a global power and influence the United States simply doesn't have.
That's why the United States received so little support at the UN two years ago when seeking support in Iraq. Because France and Germany, the two leaders of the new Europe, were opposed, most of the nations of the world were opposed, supporting those countries from whom they receive the most aid and with whom they have the most trade.
Mr. Reid puts his facts and figures together in an easy-to-read style that helps lead you to agree with his conclusions. The one thought that really changed my perception of U.S.-EU relations was the realization that the EU gets its way around the world through trade and aid, in stark contrast to the world's greatest military power, which seems increasingly frustrated at attempts to get its way. In other words, there are limits to the effectiveness of military power.
He details how corporate genius Jack Welch "...lost the biggest business deal of his brilliant career because he didn't understand the European Union until it was too late" (p. 228). Phenomenally successful as CEO of General Electric, Welch became a legend in the corporate world. His last great coup was to oversee the merger between GE and Honeywell Corporation.
While the proposed deal sailed past U.S. regulators without difficulty, it ran into an impenetrable wall in the Directorate-General for Competition of the EU. Europe vetoed an all-American business deal! Other giant U.S. businesses have had the same experience, including Microsoft, Intel, Coca-Cola WorldCom/MCI and Sprint. Exactly how this is possible makes fascinating reading.
There are a few factual errors in Mr. Reid's book, but they are minor and do not detract from the central message that it's time Americans woke up to this great threat. Sadly, the book is hard to find in bookstores, confirming my theory that the more important a book is, the harder it is to locate! You will likely find it on the bottom shelf of the new nonfiction section (or Amazon.com). WNP