The US of E

True story (as in one I haven’t made up):

In the summer of 1996, Henry B. Eyring was vacationing in Europe and spent one Sunday with us in the Salzburg ward. At lunch someone asked him what he thought about the European Union. These were his words:

China’s on the rise and America’s still powerful — small nations will need to group together to compete in the world. A country like Austria needs the European Union.

So there you have it. Prophetic support for Project Europe. [TONGUE/CHEEK]

When my parents voted for the UK to join the European Economic Community in 1973, they were voting for Britain’s inclusion in a European free trade zone. This week, the EU will have its first president. The stone rolls forth.


  1. Anne (U.K.) says:

    I was 12 when the 1973 referendum on the Common Market took place, and my parents both voted for it. In later years I asked my mum why she had, and she said that she looked at those who were opposed, didn’t like their politics and voted accordingly. 20 years later she felt the ‘yes’ vote had been a huge mistake, and deeply unfair to those who had kept us supplied for so long- Australia and New Zealand, primarily.

    Personally I enjoy the freedom to travel, live and work wherever I choose- but have concerns about the precedence Euro laws take over our own laws, GA support notwithstanding.

  2. If we are to have a community, all local cultures will have to compromise for the sake of compatibility. We need to be able to move freely; the freedom to trade is very important, and it does lead to the most effective use of resources, if those resources are priced according to their scarcity, for example. Like oil.

    Let’s compromise. It’s like the IP protocol. It may not be the best, but at least every computer that can handle it can get on the Net. We should have the same thing with all utilities and services.

  3. if those resources are priced according to their scarcity, for example. Like oil.

    Damn those Norwegians!

  4. S.P. Bailey says:

    This is one of the reasons why I am not campaigning for Apostle. Who wants to have comments they make over lunch being taken as “Prophetic?” I would really miss thinking out loud. And sarcasm. And just staying stuff to see what kind of reaction people will give you. And all manner of “inappropriateness.” Etc.

  5. Damn the Norwegians? What? Can’t we somehow blame Canada? ;-)

  6. All hail Herman van Rompuy!

    Add him to the list of famous Belgians: Hercule Poirot, Tintin, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Wilfried Decoo.

  7. Anne,

    Support for the concept of the EU does not imply support for the overbearing rules and regulations the EU imposes on its members.

    I don’t think it’s accurate for anyone to conflate support for Europe unity, with support for the variety of rules imposed on member states.

    The author I think was a bit tongue in cheek, but it’s perhaps ironic because I’m guessing he and others would bristle at someone tying personal responsibility quotes, or self reliant quotes with prophetic support for scrapping welfare programs. And plenty of politikers try to do that equal disservice to our prophets.

    No one should try to score a few easy political points by using our beloved religion and prophets against their brothers and sisters in the gospel. (and I’m not saying RJH is necessarily doing this, I read his posting as a bit light hearted)

  8. Herman van Rompuy. Because guess nothing says gravitas like the largely unknown prime minister from a member state the size of Delaware and with a population about the size of Chicago. I understand he got the job by courting that all-important Flemish vote. Honestly, Blair was an option and the EU goes with van Rompuy? That’s like sitting Wayne Rooney in favor of Landon Donovan.

  9. >Who wants to have comments they make over lunch being taken as “Prophetic?”

    Oh, I don’t think I’m suggesting that. I’m just observing how one American saw EU consolidation as somewhat inevitable. We like to think we have free will in the matter, but the Irish vote and re-vote suggest otherwise.

  10. Anne (U.K.) says:

    Eddy Merckx and Audrey Hepburn also qualify for the ‘Famous Belgians’ list!

    ‘van Rompuy’ sounds sooooo Blackadderish!

  11. jimbob,
    Behold the EU love for the grey bureaucrat!

  12. Again, the Eyring aside is just a Useless Piece of Information, nothing more.

  13. Ronan —

    Re “The stone rolls forth”

    How can you make a Biblical allusion to a bunch of socialist Western Europeans? Don’t you know? Bible prophecies = good. Europe = bad.

    Or at least that’s what Glenn Beck and Mitt Romney told me.

  14. Hunter,
    Choose another Bible prophecy, then. Rompuy = antichrist?

  15. Brian,
    Yeah, I was confused/amused by the comment above about oil being priced according to scarcity, given that the Norwegians stayed out of the EU, and they have all the oil, and certainly do not price it according to scarcity (unless they’re wealth-hating stupid-heads), and the rest of the world suffers at the hands of OPEC, which is anything but a scarcity-driven pricing team.

    But, you make a good point–blaming Canada is always worthwhile.

  16. Honestly, Blair was an option and the EU goes with van Rompuy?

    Word on the street has it that Blair is good at drawing attention to himself. In other words, a skill set the 27 heads of government are not interested in.

    Re: OP, President Eyring also said Europe’s time hadn’t come for accepting the gospel, but that’s just shooting fish in a barrel.

  17. Anne (U.K.) says:

    It’s a huge relief it isn’t Blair. IMHO. An anonymous bureaucrat will suit the job far better- far more conciliatory.

  18. I think the Iraq War pretty much took Blair out of the running. I dislike Blair for lots of reasons but I think Iraq is the main obstacle in this case.

    I agree with Pres. Eyring on this (he was not endorsing it but more noting that it made sense given the global political climate). I would go a step further. With the rise of China, and with the US as a rather inconsistent force for good, I look forward to Europe, through the EU, playing a bigger role on the global scene.

  19. That’s an interesting perspective which Elder Eyring thought about Europe. It wasn’t about what was in the best interest of Europe, but of how America could use Europe for its own interests.

  20. Daniel,

    I do not see it that way. It is a pretty straight-forward assessment of global trends. While it is a realist perspective, it doesn’t seems to be twisted in any way.

  21. Daniel,

    After a closer look, I have no idea where you are coming from. You will have to explain how you came up with that.

  22. Chris,

    Smaller nations do not need to band together to compete in the world. Take a look at Japan. Take a look at Germany. And heck, Austria does just fine, as does Sweden and Switzerland, etc. Their relative power in the world has been quite strong throughout the last century and they didn’t need to band together with anyone. Look at what Elder Eyring says. China is on the rise while America is still powerful. Who could balance out China’s rise but a united Europe. The purpose, in Elder Eyring’s eyes, behind a united Europe is to counter the rise of China so that America would not hold the burden solely of countering China. As an American, and a conservative, Elder Eyring does not like the fact that China rises in strength and influence (which is an inevitability solely on the fact that they have so many people). There will inexorably come a day when China will truly rule the world. But does that matter for a country like Austria? Not really. But apparently Austrians must give up their freedom and identity as a nation-state of their own to satisfy the concerns of the Americans who don’t want to deal with the Chinese by themselves. Personally I like the EU as it is. I love traveling around freely without that much concern about having the right currency, or having to deal with so many borders. But I say that as an American tourist.

  23. Dan,

    I do not have the time or energy to refute all of the from my phone. However, as a social democrat, it is I , and all advocates of social justice, who need a stronger unified European presence on the global scene (I feel the same way about a unified Latin America and a unified Africa).

    You make a lot of assertions and assumptions about Pres Eyring and his quote which are not supported by evidence. Bad form.

  24. It is the China on the rise part that I take issue with. So what if China is on the rise, right? The way his argument is phrased implies that the purpose behind his support of a unified Europe is to have another counter to China’s rise. I don’t think that should be the reason behind supporting a unified Europe. Austria can compete just fine on its own, just like most nations can. The issue here, not raised by Eyring, is not about strengthening social justice, but about balancing against a rising China.

  25. He made an accurate empirical observation. China is on the rise. The role of the nation-state in the world is changing. Since you know nothing of Presidents Eyrings political ideology or his theory of international relations, I do not see how you are reading what you are into the statement.

    The social justice part is mine and has to do with the EU and not Eyring.

  26. No Chris, the role of the nation-state is not changing. It’s not for America. It’s not for China. It’s not for India. It’s not for Russia. But we are telling the Europeans to change their nation-states to better suit our needs. We look across the pond and are constantly frustrated by a fragmented Europe. It would be just much simpler for Europe to be united, we think. A united Europe helps us solve our problems much better than a fragmented one. Would the United States ever consider giving up its sovereignty to become part of a larger North American Union? I hope to see a unified Europe to keep America in check. We’re a very bad actor when we are on top of the world.

  27. Sigh. It is somebody else’s turn.

  28. Please tell me the “prophetic” part of your take on this anecdote was tongue in cheek. I hope my internet blog subtlety detector is malfunctioning.

  29. Okay, now I’m confident it is. Sorry, RJH!

  30. Anne (U.K.) says:

    I feel like a child whose parents are having an argument about me and I am in the room.

    Many Europeans have been very ticked off by the recent Lisbon Treaty. Ireland voted against, and were made to hold the referendum again in the hope they would vote the ‘right ‘ way (they did, the second time). In Britain we were promised a referendum, but that was withdrawn.

    My only comfort from the OP is that the ‘prophetic’ comment was tongue in cheek, and a personal opinion, not reported from the GC pulpit.

    Chris, I don’t know you at all, but your comment:

    “However, as a social democrat, it is I , and all advocates of social justice, who need a stronger unified European presence on the global scene (I feel the same way about a unified Latin America and a unified Africa)”.

    I’m afraid (as someone whose fate you are discussing) I find that so very condescending. Many of the European nations have had a wonderful standard of living. I certainly don’t find it appropriate that we should give up sovereign rights and band together because the US thinks it a better thing.

    whilst many have benefited from the EU, there are huge problems. In repeated surveys, the biggest concern is immigration- we have had an enlargement of EU borders recently, and in the current economic climate many countries are struggling to cope with an influx of immigrants from desperately impoverished countries who see certain countries as the Promised Land and have taken advantage of the right to roam and work within the EU to move. That’s fine if they have jobs to go to, but they don’t, and end up claiming on the benefits system, enjoying free healthcare. The problem is it makes the system unsustainable as we struggle to fit more and more people (in the case of Britain) into a country it takes less than 12 hours to drive the length of.(imagine a state of comparable geographical size in the US, then imagine 74 million people living in that area (the latest projected pop figures if trends continue) all needing housing, schooling and everything else a civilised society supplies).The EU has benefits, but also huge problems.

    Most europeans don’t want an EU superstate, but one has been foisted upon us without our vote. we want to be able to travel, live and work in harmony but to retain our own independent national sovereignty. I’d be interested, when you have time, to understand why you consider a unified Europe would benefit social justice.

    And yes, I’d agree it was Iraq (and his close relationship with Bush) which did for Blair and the EU presidency.It would be very tacky to have an EU President still being actively pursued for war crimes appearing in the dock at The Hague. Too big a risk to run.It could also be seen as the EU distancing itself from the US for the same reason, but I haven’t read enough about last night’s decision yet.

  31. Anne,

    It’s much better when a European says it than when an American is trying to explain it. I think I got the basic gist that you and I agree.

  32. I heard the reporter on NPR this morning discussing the EU. I don’t really care whether the EU president is an unknown or not, no matter how you slice it, saying that name aloud — “Herman van Rompuy” — sounds funny to this unenlightened American.

  33. Anne,
    “Chris, I don’t know you at all,”
    I usually go by Chris H. We have had some interaction on the nacle before.

    I see the EU as being mutually beneficial for both the better off countries and the lesser well off countries in Europe. Just a general impression. I really do not have strong feelings about the details of the EU structure. Of course the EU has problems. Never said that it did not. Thanks, for the geography lesson.

    “Many of the European nations have had a wonderful standard of living. I certainly don’t find it appropriate that we should give up sovereign rights and band together because the US thinks it a better thing.”

    Not sure if that standard of living is directly connected to sovereign rights. I tend to view nationalism and the use of the nation-state as a moral unit as somewhat unfortunate. I discussed that at FPR back in July and I will not revisit it here.

    My comment about social justice does need explaining. I am not saying that the EU is just (nor am I saying that it is not). However, I view European countries as having a commitment to equality and human rights, both a home and abroad, that far exceeds that of the United States and China (again Europe is not perfect, the immigration problem seems to bring out some old ugly tendencies). I view a strong European voice as the only thing that might counter those other two forces and I think the EU is the institution for achieving that.

    My mother is the from the Netherlands. My grandparents are still there. I am not looking to advance any “US interest” here. I tend to oppose said interests in many ways.

    My disagreement above with my friend Daniel is less about the EU and more about his portrayal of Elder Eyring as just another big bad American imperialist.

    Either way, I apologize for coming across as “very condescending.” These are complex ideas and we are discussing them in limited space.

  34. Brian Duffin Says:
    November 19, 2009 at 2:04 pm
    Damn the Norwegians? What? Can’t we somehow blame Canada?

    Didn’t you get the memo? Norway IS the Canada of Europe!

  35. So does the new EU president get to receive a Nobel next year?