This morning’s Washington Post editorial states the Greek referendum “heighten[s] the contradictions between the financial and economic imperatives of a single European currency, on the one hand, and the political imperatives of democracy and national sovereignty in the 17 eurozone countries on the other hand.” The editorial then blames Greek prime minister Papandreou for hastening “Europe’s day of reckoning.”
There is blame and there certainly should be Recriminations with a capital R. But the “guilty men” (see Andrew Stuttaford) are not Greek socialists or German burghers who want to restore the mark. The guilty are the EU elites who have shown an utter contempt for both democracy and liberalism. The guilty also include those British conservatives who betrayed Margaret Thatcher in the name of European integration and those British judges who subordinated the authority of the House of Commons to the European Court of Justice.
In my new book Sovereignty or Submission: Will Americans Rule Themselves or be Ruled by Others?, I examine how the European Union represents a new type of regime in opposition to liberal democracy. Indeed, European integration is both post-democratic (with administrative-judicial rule) and post-liberal (restrictions on free speech in order to appease Islamists).
As American conservatives, let us not pretend that we “share democratic values” with European elites who have spent the past 20 years undermining parliamentary democracy, traditional liberalism, national patriotism, and even the defense of Western civilization as revealed in both their failed immigrant integration and Arab-Iranian-Israeli policies. (In this sense, the Euro elites could be described as “post-Western” as well as post-liberal and post-democratic.)
And, as American constitutional democrats (small d), let us be open to the voices of democratic renewal that are awakening across the continent whether these voices come from the center, right, or left.
As the Washington Post fears, Europe has reached the “day of reckoning,” and national politicians and democratic populations are starting to revolt against the centralized authority of Brussels. The response from European elites has been to “double down” and call for more centralization and European integration (with fiscal as well as monetary authority for the EU).
What will the American response be? Since the end of World War II, the United States has been a consistent and enthusiastic supporter of greater and greater European integration. Will this cycle be broken?
Specifically, as we plunge into an election season, what will be the response of the Republican center-right foreign-policy establishment? That is the big question. Surely, it is time to shift gears and stop blindly supporting further European centralization. America should not stand in the way of the re-democratization of Europe. Moreover, at some future date, the restoration of democracy in Europe will eventually mean the end of the failed post-democratic eurozone experiment and a return to national currencies (not just the drachma, but across the board).
No doubt many in the Republican foreign-policy establishment will cling to the default policy of total support for Brussels. Conservatives should be prepared to fight to change America’s attitude toward Europe. We should, when possible, assist, or at least not oppose, our pro-American Euroskeptic friends in the British Conservative party, and the forces of democratic sovereignty elsewhere on the continent. Under no circumstances should we be supporting the EU efforts to “double down” on integration. As Ambassador John Bolton recently put it:
Much of the EU project is an effort to create a global alternative to the United States. The Europeans are certainly entitled to try, but they’re not entitled to our assistance when they fail, as they’re in the process of doing. Trying to rescue the European Unions’s failed political objectives should be off the table in Washington.
— John Fonte is senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and author of a new book, Sovereignty or Submission: Will Americans Rule Themselves or be Ruled by Others? (Encounter Books).