Many Europeans were living in a Fool’s Paradise

“Many Europeans were living in a Fool’s Paradise”

Interview with Professor Walter Laqueur about Europe’s demography, Euro Islam and Europe’s relations to the U.S. -
by: Dieter Farwick, World Security Network

Professor Walter Laqueur: “Many Europeans were living in a fool’s paradise and many still do.. On the surface life was pleasant, civilized and easy, there were no major wars, no one was starving. But if one looked below the surface, the critical signs of decline were obvious.”

Dieter Farwick: The title of your newest book The Last Days of Europe: The Changing Face of a Continent sounds provocative to many Europeans. You paint a very bleak picture.

Europeans were more accustomed to the optimistic views of your American colleagues – such as those of Charles Kupchan in his book The End of the American Era (2003) and Elizabeth Pond’s The Rebirth of Europe; a Continent on the Way to World Power (1999). These books corresponded with the euphoric European voices that spoke of Europe as a powerhouse independent from the United States and building one pillar in the desired multipolar world.

What has changed in such a short period of time ? Facts and figures or perceptions and illusions?

Walter Laqueur: I am not sure one can generalize. There was not that much optimism in France and Italy ten years ago. But it is true– many Europeans were living in a fool’s paradise and many still do.. On the surface life was pleasant, civilized and easy, there were no major wars, no one was starving. But if one looked below the surface, the critical signs of decline were obvious. As for the American Euro-optimists—. there was a great deal of wishful thinking. They were unhappy with the Bush administration and they thought Europe was moving in the direction of their dreams. But dreams they were.

Dieter Farwick: It is no coincidence that you start with the demographic facts and figures that have been available for years but have obviously been neglected. What is the trend for Europe’s greatest countries, including Russia? What are the most important implications of shrinking and ageing societies? CONTINUE

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