Friday, January 21, 2005

EU narcissism in extremis

The link above will take you to the single most solipsistic, baseless, ignorant and arrantly stupid column I've seen in some time. It is a proposal to "save Student Ryan" by the EUrophilic Franck Biancheri, Director of Studies and Strategy at the foundation Europe 2020 and President of the transatlantic organisation TIESweb. Here is the proposal:

Jean Monnet Transatlantic Grants programme
Fifty years ago, the US pioneered large-scale exchange programmes designed to open young generations’ and future elites’ minds (in particular those of post-war Europeans) and to promote the US image among these categories of age. Today it is the Europeans’ turn to 'return the favour' and launch the 'Jean Monnet Transatlantic Grants' programme.

* * *
The programme should reach 20,000 young Americans per year for at least five years (i.e. 100,000 by the end of the decade) for a significant generational impact; this would imply a 50 million euro budget per year.

Here are the underlying reasons, with corrections to Biancheri's incorrect premises:

. . . the exposure of young Americans to international topics in primary and secondary education has practically disappeared, resulting in the emergence of entire generations of US citizens totally unaware of the rest of the world.

Yeah, like the European history subject I had in high school, the world history requirement I had, and all that American history teaching that involves what outside nations did (or tried to do) to us.

This trend is strengthened by the parochialism of the US media.

Like the Georgia-focused CNN and the US only coverage of Fox News World, right?

Such trends affect American relations with all other continents; but it particularly affects transatlantic relations that used to be based upon large-scale population exchanges between the two shores of the ocean, enabling our visions of the world and of the future to be shared.

Uh, the largest-scale population outflows from the US came in late 1917 when US troops arrived in France and 1943 when US troops arrived in Italy. Both times to help save Europe from itself. The outflows from Europe were in the late 1800s after the Irish potato famine, early 1900s as the Southern and Eastern European countries descended into economic despair, mid-1930s as people fled Eastern European despotism and late 1940s as people fled the torn-down husks that dotted the European landscape courtesy of the fascists that Europe (as a whole) enabled. Thanks to the Marshall Plan, Europe was put on solid financial footing, saw its economies grow and now has decent standards of living in most Western European countries and an increasing number of Eastern European nations.

Having had the opportunity to analyse this trend since 1991, I have noticed year after year the damage to the younger generations of Americans who no longer have, so to speak, the intellectual tools to understand the outer world.

Evidence, please. Understand = "accept horrendous deficiencies thereof" in this chap's parlance.

Let’s be aware of the fact that, in the US, such a decision coming from the EU would raise some very positive reactions among the academic and diplomatic spheres, students, multinational companies, and citizen networks, who are trying to fight against the decline of international education.

Really? Most studies show that students are more conservative now than they were 10 years ago and their parents, as shown by the recent election results, probably won't like a bunch of Eurocrats inculcating the politics of collective insecurity leavened by transnational rivalry that embodies the EU.

Poor Franck, he's been so deep in his EUrocentric cocoon for so long, he lacks the intellectual tools to be persuasive and to handle dealing with Americans.

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