Sunday, March 16, 2003
The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin - 16th March 2003, 18.14

Mark Steyn, writing in the Chicago Sun-Times, summarises the outcome for Europe.

Best case scenario: The EU winds up as Vienna with Swedish tax rates. Don't get me wrong, I love Vienna. As remnants of greatness go, it's very pleasant. I quite like Stockholm, too--well, I like the babes. But they're gonna be a lot wrinklier by 2050, and Sweden's already got a lower standard of living than Mississippi. Its 60 percent overall tax rate is likely to be the base in the Europe of 2020 and fondly recalled as the good old days by mid-century.

Worst case scenario: Sharia, circa 2070.

This is based on an assumption that the current political outlook within Europe will stay the same over the next half-century and that countries do not respond to changes in their circumstances. With the likelihood of the unstable southern borders around the Mediterranean providing a number of unpredictable states with access to both missiles and weapons of mass destruction, the European countries will eventually rearm. All that matters is the timetable: will it be five years or ten?

Without the participation of the United States, the role of international institutions like the International Criminal Court or the United Nations are effectively neutered, and with them, the whole European view of a transnational world governed by law. The smaller countries may well remain wedded to such a system but the larger powers, aware of their military and diplomatic weaknesses, will move to redress this imbalance and secure their defence.

Lastly, despite the demographic bust, the armies of the future do not depend upon numbers but upon the technological ability to rain down overwhelming destruction on your enemy. Moreover, the European economies will probably reform and endeavour to resolve these problems, especially when they see the writing on the wall.

Declining countries or regions, especially if they are democratic and retain the adaptability of such societies, are forced to emulate their competitor. Watch out for the 'Americanisation' of foreign policy and their military forces.


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