The Corner

National Security & Defense

Is Europe Doomed to Decline?

The Decline and Fall of Europe will be a rich theme for an Edward Gibbon of the future. It will be quite a task to decide what has caused this huge historical consequence.

Edward Gibbon held that Christianity destroyed the Roman Empire, and now the absence of Christianity is certainly shaping the destructive assumption that there’s nothing in European civilization worth defending.

Enter Islam. Muslims everywhere are proving in impressive numbers that they are willing to die for their faith. Nobody knows for sure whether there are 20 million Muslims in Europe, or 40 million. No Europeans that I know of ever objected on the grounds that here is reverse colonization. Put another way, Muslims had rid themselves of imperial Europeans and it was their turn for empire. Still minorities, Muslims in Europe insist on their rights. We must be nice to Muslims, a Swedish government minister summed up a few years ago, so that when they are a majority they will be nice to us. Our future Gibbon will have to determine the relationship between pitiable renunciation of the sort and the gathering breakdown of law and order.

The breakdown of law and order in a dozen or more Muslim countries is turning the migration of Muslims into Europe into a mass movement of population. It seems to come as a surprise, which is to say that nobody has any clear idea of causes, consequences, or remedies. Fences, riot police, tear gas, naval patrols in the Mediterranean, repatriation, are so many panaceas. And still some 2,000 migrants fetch up every day in Greece.

There remains surrender. Most migrants come through Turkey and last November the European Union gave Turkey 3 billion euros to stop the human traffic. The Turks took the money, turned a blind eye, and now will receive 6 billion euros. A weird exchange of population has been agreed whereby Turkey will take back every single illegal migrant in Greece provided that the EU takes the same number from camps in Turkey. Turks are also to be granted visa privileges.

In plain language, the Turks have successfully blackmailed the Europeans. I cannot think of any historical parallel. Our future Gibbon will be describing this moment when Europe voluntarily allowed the balance of power to swing against it. The epitaph of that chapter could be a line from the great German poet Schiller: “Gegen Dummheit kämpfen die Götter selbst vergeben” — Against stupidity the gods themselves fight in vain.

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