I’m always amused when I get library books with dedications written in them, suggesting that the recipient of the book was so not thrilled by it that they donated it to the library to get rid of it. Or maybe they thought the book was so awesome that it just had to be shared? Anyway, my copy of The United States of Europe came with this introduction:
This author has a “point of view” and tends to select and emphasize.
This is not a scholarly way to write, but it is a lot of fun.
In not too many years it will appear whether or not he is right. If he is than you can tell your friends [and enemies] “I told you so,
I want you to know that I reproduced this note exactly, with all quirks of punctuation retained, like the intriguing use of brackets instead of parentheses. And yes, the note writer really did drop the second quotation mark on the end.
At any rate, the question for me is not whether Reid is right, but what we plan to do about it. The European Union is a powerful, driving force, and it’s not going anywhere. I would argue that it’s a second superpower, and it’s showing us up pretty handily. Reid outlines (selectively, of course!) some of the ways in which the EU has accomplished this, and I would say that yes, this book is a lot of fun. But it’s also rather good, and I’m glad that David recommended it to me.
I think Reid is right when he says that a lot of Americans aren’t paying very much attention to what’s going on across the pond. And I think that if they did, they would be at the very least troubled. People seem to have this perception of Europe as a quaint, old-world, backwards sort of place with lots of cathedrals and picturesque villages. But it’s a thriving powerhouse of industry, economics, and politics.
The social policies of the EU alone bear closer examination, especially as some Americans are starting to wake up to the stark truth that we need to reform our system, our attitude, our way of doing things, before all hell breaks loose. But the EU has also demonstrated a mastery of economic policy, with some really brilliant and rather clever things going on that we could be learning from instead of ignoring.
It was especially interesting to read this book in the wake of a series of article on tightening British immigration laws, because I had always assumed that I would, at some point, return to Europe, and probably live there for the rest of my life. And as I read articles about immigration reform, I came to a sobering conclusion: Europe doesn’t want me. Or my kind. What I had always thought would be a relatively simple thing, moving to Europe, could actually be insanely complex, and if that’s what I really want, I’m going to have to fight tooth and nail for it.
Reading The United States of Europe made me realize that I am, in fact, willing to fight for it, because the EU is just too cool a thing to be excluded from.
The United States of Europe, by T.R. Reid. Published 2004, 305 pages. Politics.