In the space of two weeks, three European governments have fallen, sending seismic shock-waves across the continent and calling into question the experiment that has consumed its elites for decades: the construction of a centralized, socialist superstate known as "Europe."
It may just be that the foundering of the coalition government in the Netherlands, the repudiation of Nicholas Sarkozy in France and the plunging fortunes of the two main Greek parties represents more than a rejection of austerity measures dictated by Brussels at the behest of the Germans.
To paraphrase Winston Churchill, these political developments are probably not going to end the creeping, sovereignty-crushing European venture or even mark the beginning of its demise. But they may just constitute the end of the beginning of the end of "Europe" as a single, transnational political enterprise.
To be sure, French voters elected socialist Francois Hollande, who favors the European Union and reflexively supports the vision of its founders that has seen it evolve from a trade pact to a community to proto-political union. Still, his electorate, like the Greeks and Dutch, wants no part of the EU's main project at the moment - fiscal discipline and budgetary austerity.
The trouble is that such rebuffs threaten the wholesale unraveling of various financial houses of cards constructed in recent months by Germany's Angela Merkel with help from her very-much-junior partner, France's Sarkozy. They have been aimed at giving the appearance of managing the yawning economic crises confronting EU members far beyond Greece - including Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and, yes, France. But as publics across the continent balk at taking the unpalatable medicine ordered up by Berlin and refuse to give up their unaffordable social services, short work-weeks and long vacations, there seems little hope that the patient will recover.
Unfortunately, several other worrying factors are adding to the economic turmoil afflicting Europe at the moment. These include the following:
• In many nations of the European Union, the chickens are coming home to roost as what has been in some nations a decades-long bid to offset declining birthrates among the native population by importing immigrant laborers transforms the host countries. Sarkozy's fate was ultimately sealed by the decision of supporters of Marine Le Pen's anti-immigration National Front party not to vote for him in the second round of the French presidential election. Similar sentiments saw Greece's fascist-sympathizing Golden Dawn party garnering roughly 7% of the polling this weekend at the expense of mainstream conservative and leftist parties.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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