Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Europe v. World

by Edwin M. Truman

New York Times

February 14, 2012

For the third time in a century, a bitter conflict fueled by historic grievances has erupted in Europe, with the United States looking from afar and hoping not to get involved. Of course, this is not being fought on the battlefields but in the arcane arenas of international finance. But as in World War I, which President Woodrow Wilson once dismissed as “a drunken brawl,” and in World War II, which America formally stayed out of until Pearl Harbor, the crisis over the euro will require further American involvement — whether we like it or not.

Currently, the United States is discouraging the International Monetary Fund and its non-European members from promising additional financial assistance to Europe.

The American posture is understandable and, at one level, sensible. With our own debt and deficit problems, we and other countries can be forgiven for feeling that it not up to us to extricate Europe from its mistakes and excesses. President Obama, facing a tough re-election fight, is hardly in a position to offer financial aid to Europe. Just as Washington wants Europe to do more to enhance its political and military security, so is it appropriate to demand that Europe do more on its own with respect to its economic and financial security.

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