In an episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" - now consigned to inglorious immortality in reruns - Captain Picard admonishes his first officer for not knowing his 21st century history. Do you not recall the "European Hegemony," he asks, which dominated good ol' earth for so long?
It wouldn't surprise me if the collected leaders of the EU have stayed up until many a wee hour, Styrofoam cups of cold caf?u lait and platefuls of runny brie strewn across the table, straining their bleary eyes as they studied tapes of the entire "Trek" oeuvre for clues to how the Europeans managed to pull off this Trekian prophecy in such a short time.
Because from this corner of the space-time continuum, it looks like European survival, not hegemony, is a more reasonable goal. A few countries, most notably the Netherlands, are beginning to realize their problems. But on the whole the Europeans are determined to believe that America - and all it allegedly represents - is the only thing between it and its rightful place as world leader.
Recent polls across Europe - never mind the caterwauls from the editorialists and commentators - show that Europeans are still mopey about Bush's victory in November. At least 70 percent of French, Germans and Spaniards dislike George W. Bush, and majorities held an unfavorable view of Americans in general.
But, then, the Europeans can't even greet good news without blaming the United States. For a perfect example, consider the European - and particularly the European left's - reaction to the events in Ukraine. A pro-EU leader triumphs (at least so far) in his bid to thwart Russian authoritarianism in the EU's backyard, riding one of the most exhilarating demonstrations of peaceful democratic courage and conviction since Tiananmen Square, and the European leftist press bleats its disapproval at the whole spectacle because it imagines that the United States might have something to do with the whole thing. Indeed, conspiracy theories that the Orange Revolution is little more than a CIA plot, and therefore not all that good, are commonplace among European sophisticates.
Meanwhile, Europe has real problems much closer to home, which cannot be pinned on George W. Bush - unless he's the cause of continent-wide European impotence or some other mood-killing phenomenon that's preventing Europeans from making babies. Across Europe, birthrates are plunging, as children are seen as impediments to the good life rather than its reward. Not too long ago, the EUreaucrats predicted that they'd need 50 million more immigrants simply to maintain their lavish social welfare states.