Europe’s Greek tragedy has now entered its final act, with potentially fateful consequences for the global economy—and for Barack Obama, whose reelection may hinge on the decisions of Germany in the coming weeks. The 2012 election will pivot on the public’s evaluation of the president’s economic stewardship, and a perceptible decline in the U.S. growth rate—which a badly handled Greek exit from the Eurozone would cause—could easily spell the difference between victory and defeat. Obama’s fate, then, may well lie in Angela Merkel’s hands.
When Francois Hollande, the newly elected president of France, arrives today in Berlin for his first meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, it will kindle memories of the long history of Franco-German partnership in leading the European Union. In France, it may even trigger the traditional condescension Parisian politicians feel towards their neighbors: the lumbering German economic giant that relies on French diplomatic, military, and nuclear savoir faire to achieve political clout. Increasingly, however, such sentiments are mere nostalgia.
May 04, 2012
I first saw Mitt Romney playing the dread Europe card on the campaign trail in Iowa. “I think President Obama wants to make us a European-style welfare state,” went the standard refrain. “What I know is that, if they do that, they’ll substitute envy for ambition. And they’ll poison the very spirit of America and keep us from being one nation under God.” At another stop, Romney warned that Obama’s policies were already “making us more and more like Europe. I don’t think Europe is working in Europe.
Europe’s Other Crisis
May 04, 2012
Europe’s Angry Muslims: The Revolt of the Second Generation By Robert S. Leiken (Oxford University Press, 354 pp., $27.95) After the Fall: The End of the European Dream and the Decline of a Continent By Walter Laqueur (Thomas Dunne Books, 322 pp., $26.99) In two separate incidents in March, Mohammed Merah, a French-born French citizen who thought he was waging jihad, ambushed four soldiers around Toulouse, killing three of them. A week later, he shot dead three children arriving for morning classes at a nearby Jewish school, along with a young rabbi who was father to two of them.
How an Election in Greece Could Cause Europe to Crumble
April 20, 2012
Anyone anxiously waiting for the European Union’s death knell could do worse than circle May 6 on his calendar. That’s when Greece, a nation brought to its knees by an unprecedented economic crisis, is scheduled to hold what promises to be a turbulent parliamentary election. It’s an open question whether Europe’s fragile political balance—and Greece’s tenuous hold on membership in the Eurozone—will survive the subsequent aftershocks.
Tracing Europe’s Long Road to Economic Catastrophe
March 09, 2012
The economic crisis in Europe reached its latest crescendo last night, as Greece managed, through furious last-minute negotiations, to convince its creditors to give it some more breathing room. But if the Greeks have managed to stave off ruin for a few more minutes, nothing has essentially changed in their situation: Their economy is still in shambles. The burning question on most observers’ minds, and rightfully so, is whether the Greeks will ever manage to pay back their debts. But at this stage, it’s also worth considering how we ended up on the precipice of such catastrophe at all.
Iran, Europe, And Oil: The Cost Of An Export Halt
February 15, 2012
Today, state media in Tehran declared a halt to oil exports to six European countries, apparently in retaliation for recent EU measures aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program. (A conflicting statement from the country’s oil ministry, however, is creating confusion about whether the export cutoff will actually occur.) If the oil stoppage goes forward, what impact will it have on Europe? Information from the Congressional Research Service suggests that the move’s impact would vary considerably from country to country.
A Grave New Threat to Free Speech From Europe
February 10, 2012
At the end of January, Viviane Reding, the European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights, and Citizenship, announced a sweeping new privacy right: the “right to be forgotten.” The proposed right would require companies like Facebook and Google to remove information that people post about themselves and later regret—even if that information has already been widely distributed.
Though the continent's collected prime ministers will no doubt again pledge to do all that's within their powers to preserve the grandeur of the European Union when they meet today in Brussels, the continent's fate ultimately rests on the quiet, technocratic governments of Italy and Greece. Unfortunately, those administrations have since seen their fortunes diverge considerably. It’s worth noting, however, that their respective failures and successes have been entirely predictable (if not entirely preventable.) Take Italy first.
The Rumors of the Euro’s Demise Are Greatly Exaggerated
December 13, 2011
Another month, another EU Summit. And once again, markets are judging the compromise as, at best, incomplete—at worst, disastrously insufficient. On top of everything else, the new agreement has managed to formally isolate Britain from the other 26 EU member states. (British euroskeptics are applauding their country's newfound estrangement, but more considered commentators realize the situation is fraught.) So is Europe ultimately doomed to all that jazz about euro breakup and financial apocalypse? Not quite.