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The end of Europe?

Guest review by Karl Pfeifer

Yale University Press recently published The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age by James Kirchick, a 34-year-old American journalist.

It is a remarkably ambitious, provocative and vividly written account of the dark sides of Europe. It contradicts in 252 pages all the optimistic speeches of European political leaders. It should be must reading for all those interested in European politics.

Since the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Europe is no longer a continent of peace, and the time of stability, prosperity, cooperation, democracy and social harmony seems to be ending. The author describes a “sequence of violently transformative events ranging from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to spectacular Islamist terrorist attacks, along with deeper phenomena such as Britain’s exit from the EU and the rise of ‘illiberal democracy’ in places like Hungary and Poland.”

Kirchick shows how nationalist, anti-American, often racist and anti-Semitic forces evoke Europe’s foulest traditions.

The problems described in this book have in common a loss of faith in the universal, humanistic values. “External challenges that could have had an integrative effect – like migration and Russian aggression – are instead having a disintegrative one.”

Questions Europeans have to ask themselves include: “How seriously are they committed to Europe? What are they willing to sacrifice in order to preserve the greatest experiment in political cooperation in human history?”

Kirchick is critical of the foreign policy of Barack Obama, who declared himself “America’s first Pacific president.” The author’s arguments “stem from a conviction that the values and interests uniting Americans and Europeans are far more numerous, and of greater import, than anything which divides us.”

James Kirchick presents the result of seven years traveling Europe in a finely written, fascinating account of current affairs in Europe.