Not content with this, EC leaders in 1999 launched the euro, a single currency for 17 of the now 27 nations in the European Community.
The problem is that a single currency for 17 nations with different fiscal policies ensures that some nations' economies will overheat and produce financial collapse. Eurozone leaders tried to prevent that with rules mandating harmonious fiscal policy, but allowed cheating from the start.
I won't try to describe the successive rescue packages, which seem to inspire confidence for a few days and then are rejected in financial markets. My eyes glaze over reading the details.
What seems plain is that the euro isn't workable and that the protracted euro crisis is the inevitable product of policies that arose from the heartfelt yearning not to repeat the horrors of 1914 to 1945.
In looking at both of these painfully unresolved issues, it seems that a determination not to repeat the mistakes -- in some cases, the horrifying mistakes -- of the past has made policymakers and publics timid about adjusting to changes in the future.
America's illegal immigration problem could be alleviated with identification technology that no longer seems scary. And as the illegal numbers seem to be declining, we could leave that issue aside and provide more openings for the high-skill immigrants we plainly need.
As for the euro, by the 1990s, it was plain that Germany and France were never going to war again -- and that Brussels bureaucrats could never bludgeon or cajole them, much less their Mediterranean neighbors, into following identical economic or fiscal policies.
In the meantime, credit card technology and financial innovation have made it easier to deal with different currencies.
The lesson: Heed history, but keep an eye out for changes that make historical lessons obsolete.
Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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