The Remarkable Thing About Europe Is Not That It Has Problems

The European Parliament building in Strasbourg, France, March 8, 2016
The European Parliament building in Strasbourg, France, March 8, 2016 (European Parliament)

I’m used to American and British commentators dismissing the EU, but when even a Harvard professor misses the point it warrants a rebuttal.

Imagining a post-American world, Stephen M. Walt doesn’t see Europe playing much of a role. He argues in Foreign Policy that the EU project is deeply troubled.

  • The outcome of the Brexit process is uncertain.
  • Economic growth on the continent is uneven.
  • Extremist parties are flourishing in several countries.
  • The refugee issue, which has convulsed domestic politics throughout Europe, is not going away.

His bottom line:

The EU has become too large and heterogeneous to make rapid and bold decisions, and it faces opposition from illiberal and xenophobic elements within.

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Kavanaugh Nomination Erodes Supreme Court’s Legitimacy

Building of the United States Supreme Court in Washington DC, June 12, 2014
Building of the United States Supreme Court in Washington DC, June 12, 2014 (Wikimedia Commons/Laura Choate)

Republicans’ determination to put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court marks an escalation of the politicization of the judiciary in the United States.

Kavanaugh faces unanimous opposition from Democrats due to allegations of sexual assault, his extreme views on presidential power (Kavanaugh does not believe a sitting president can be indicted or tried) and his partisanship. Read more

Why Republicans Are In a Hurry to Put Kavanaugh on Supreme Court

Building of the United States Supreme Court in Washington DC, January 29, 2008
Building of the United States Supreme Court in Washington DC, January 29, 2008 (Tabitha Kaylee Hawk)

Brett Kavanaugh has been accused of attempting to rape a young woman in prep school and Democrats have been denied the chance to read tens of thousands of documents from his time as a lawyer in the George W. Bush Administration. Yet Republicans are rushing to confirm his nomination.

Why? Because they worry this may be their last chance to defend their majority on the Supreme Court. Read more

Three Reasons Liberals Need to Look Left, Not Right, for Allies

A couple cycles past the Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington DC, December 25, 2016
A couple cycles past the Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington DC, December 25, 2016 (Kian McKellar)

Leonardo Carella, an expert on Italian politics, argues that, strategically and policy-wise, pro-market liberals now have more in common with social democrats than they do with conservatives.

I think he is right, for three reasons: Read more

American Left Must Not Create Its Own Stab-in-the-Back Legend

1924 German National People's Party election poster promotes the myth that socialists stabbed German soldiers fighting in World War I in the back
1924 German National People’s Party election poster promotes the myth that socialists stabbed German soldiers fighting in World War I in the back

The American left risks making the same mistake as the far right in blaming its political failures on the alleged impurity of its leaders.

The defeat of establishment-backed Democrats in New York and Massachusetts at the hands of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley, respectively, is giving the left hope that America is finally ready for social democracy.

They wants Democrats to campaign on debt-free college education, Medicare-for-all, abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and impeaching President Donald Trump.

They are appalled that Nancy Pelosi has promised to restore pay-as-you-go budgeting in a Democratic Congress — requiring spending cuts or tax increases to pay for new policies — fearing this will make overhauls of education, environmental law and health care impossible.

There are several problems with this attitude. Read more

Ignoring Nativists Doesn’t Work in Sweden Either

View of Stockholm, Sweden
View of Stockholm, Sweden (Unsplash/Martin Bjork)

The rise of the far-right Sweden Democrats proves that isolating nativists doesn’t work.

Support for the Sweden Democrats has hovered north of 20 percent since 2015, up from the 13 percent they got in the election a year earlier. They could place second in the election this year, behind the ruling Social Democrats but ahead of the center-right Moderate Party.

Sweden’s mainstream parties have deliberately ignored the far right and most of them share pro-immigration views, making the Sweden Democrats the only recourse for voters who feel their country — the most welcoming to refugees in Europe — has done its part.

With 20 percent of the vote, the Sweden Democrats could block a traditional left- or right-wing government. They already forced Prime Minister Stefan Löfven into an awkward pact with the center-right in the outgoing parliament, reinforcing the impression that the entire political establishment has ganged up on the populists. Read more

Macron, Salvini Represent Opposite Sides in Europe’s Culture War

Emmanuel Macron Matteo Salvini
French president Emmanuel Macron and Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini (European Parliament)

Politico has a good story about how France’s Emmanuel Macron and Italy’s Matteo Salvini represent opposite sides in what I — per Andrew Sullivan — call Europe’s blue-red culture war.

Macron is a former investment banker who styles himself as a liberal champion of the European Union. Salvini, the leader of Italy’s far-right League party, has emerged as Europe’s leading nationalist — one who has pledged to bring the European project to a crashing halt.

Both are building transnational coalitions to contest the 2019 European Parliament elections. Read more