America's "Europe problem" and Europe's "America problem" have been staple topics of transatlantic debate for the past several years. Political leaders, media commentators, and businessmen usually discuss those problems in terms of policy differences: differences over prosecuting the war on terrorism, differences over the role of the United Nations in world affairs, differences over the Kyoto Protocol on the global environment, differences over Iraq. The policy differences are real. Attempts to understand them in political, strategic, and economic terms alone will ultimately fail, however, because such explanations do not reach deeply enough into the human texture of contemporary Europe.
To put the matter directly: Europe, and especially western Europe, is in the midst of a crisis of civilizational morale. The most dramatic manifestation of that crisis is not to be found in Europe's fondness for governmental bureaucracy or its devotion to fiscally shaky health care schemes and pension plans, in Europe's lagging economic productivity or in the appeasement mentality that some European leaders display toward Islamist terrorism. No, the most dramatic manifestation of Europe's crisis of civilizational morale is the brute fact that Europe is depopulating itself.
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