European Union running out of time | Rich Elfers

To commemorate the World War I Battle of Verdun, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande met recently at the battle site to remember and honor the deaths of 300,000 German and French soldiers in that 10-month battle.

  • by
  • Thursday, June 30, 2016 3:07pm
  • Opinion

To commemorate the World War I Battle of Verdun, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande met recently at the battle site to remember and honor the deaths of 300,000 German and French soldiers in that 10-month battle.

The visit to this 100-year-old site was meant in part to remind Euroskeptics of the dangers of the potential breakup of the European Union. The European Steel and Coal was originally created in 1951 after World War II to keep the Germans and the French united so that there would never be another war between these great European powers.

Hollande’s warning at that bloody battleground was that tearing down the Union would take less time than forming it. He noted that it always takes more time to build something than it does to destroy it.

It took from 1951 to 1993 to create the European Union, but only eight years of economic stagnation and political disillusionment to threaten the very core of the organization. Hollande and Merkel can invoke the past to give perspective, but that will probably not stop the unraveling of the union. Time is not on their side, according to Stratfor strategist Reva Goujon in an article entitled, “The Tyranny of Time.” Time is an enemy of not only the French and Germans, but of other nations as well.

Time is a tyrant to the Vladimir Putin who has labored for 17 years to restore Russia to its previous glory as the Soviet Union. In that time he reined in the nation’s economic oligarchs, crushed a Chechen rebellion and used his nation’s massive oil wealth to rebuild the economy and the Russian military.

Putin has been unsuccessful in his drive to diversify his nation’s economy and with the plunge of petroleum prices, which make up 70 percent of its income, combined with sanctions imposed by the West upon it for its actions in Ukraine, time is running out for the rapidly-aging country. The Russian economy is in a downward spiral as wage cuts increase poverty levels. The longer the spiral continues, the longer it will take to stabilize the nation.

China, too, is under the gun, according to Goujon. The age of 7 percent-plus growth has come to an end, as China must shift its economy and 1.36 billion people from export to a consumer-driven one. Internal consumption currently only creates 34 percent of its GDP which is mostly centered in the southeast, compared to 70 percent for the U.S., 61 percent for Japan and 59 percent for India. The Chinese government must make dramatic changes to secure its hold on power and time is running out.

“Europe, China, Russia, and even the Saudi monarchy and other critically exposed economies are also racing against time to overhaul their economies for their own political survival,” Goujon wrote.

The United States, by contrast, has no such existential threats. This nation, with all its polarizing politics, seems to be basking in both time and space. Based upon its geography, natural resources, military might, technological superiority and entrepreneurial energy, the U.S., according to Goujon, will remain the premier global power for a long time to come.

America’s danger is complacency. The other nations noted above have the experience of many failures over the centuries that they can draw upon in tough times. The United States, in contrast, does not have this long past to draw lessons from. We must be realistic about our strengths without withdrawing into paranoia and alarmism. We must also not be fooled by the illusion of control. Facing reality to the many challenges facing us both at home and abroad will require a great deal of patience, a quality which our young nation has never had in great abundance.

More in Opinion

More information needed on proposed recycling site

We want to bring awareness to your readers about a 34 acre wood recycling center that is in the permitting process with King County.

North neighbors keep a close eye on the U.S.

How much do you know about Canada? If you’re like most Americans, not much.

Trickle-down equation may not add up, Dems say

A tax overhaul plan drawn up by Republicans in Congress will be a good deal for many households, though not every one, or nearly every one, as promised by its authors.

America’s monster

I’m not sure when it happened, but I recently realized I’ve stopped asking myself, “What are we going to do about mass shootings and gun violence in this country?” Instead, I now ask, “When is the carnage going to come to Enumclaw?”

Avoiding loss means more than gaining something else

Some studies have shown that losses are twice as psychologically powerful as gains. American history and our current political situation help reveal a great deal about the American/human psyche.

Congratulations, Jan Molinaro

In every election, one person must win and the other will lose. Now more than ever, it is important to show our children how to be gracious in victory and humble in defeat.

Don’t give into the pressure of driving drowsy

Eleven years ago, a drowsy-driving car wreck left me with injuries that still challenge me today.

Baxley and Young should have showed up at public forum

On Tuesday, October 17th, was the Black Diamond Maple Valley Chamber of Commerce Candidates Forum, where the Black Diamond candidates for Mayor and two City Council positions had the opportunity to talk with the citizens of Black Diamond, and to answer questions put to them by these citizens.

Issues to be addressed in Enumclaw elections

Who should I vote for in the Enumclaw City Council and mayoral races?

Enumclaw helped raise $3,500 for Special Olympics

The last couple of weekends the St. Barbara Knights of Columbus have been involved with our annual Tootsie Roll Program.

Court grapples with school funding

When the legal battle on education funding returned to the state Supreme Court Tuesday, the leader of Washington’s public school system was closely monitoring this installment of the McCleary drama from his office down the street.

Baxley is an important choice for Black Diamond mayor

Judy Baxley has been part of our local civics for years, and thank goodness because citizen involvement is critical to monitoring big developers.