Q & A with Richard Rosecrance
1. In your book, The Resurgence of the West, you draw parallels between the political and economic conditions of pre-World War I and today. How is this current era similar to that of the lead-up to World War I?
In 1914, Germany was rising economically and England relatively declining. Yet the two were linked together in trade relations that should have prevented war between them. As we know, it did not. Today, China is rising in gross economic scale and the US (in comparison) is relatively declining. Thucydides argued that Athens’ rise in power and the fear that inspired in Sparta led to the Peloponnesian wars. In similar ways, Germany’s rise before 1914 and China’s rise today might lead to fears of similar outcomes. Obviously something more must be done to prevent another World War.
2. You suggest that forming a transatlantic union between the United States and Europe could help prevent another world war. How would such a step prevent a reprise of World War I?
The main problem in 1914 was the existence of a bare balance of power. Neither side (Triple Entente or Triple Alliance) was thereby deterred from acting. Today we need to create an economic Overbalance of power that will at once deter and ultimately attract China. A uniting of Europe and the United States gives the West more than 50% of World GDP to China’s 10%. This will over time draw China in to a larger and more powerful economic combination.
3. What other benefits could potentially arise from a U.S./European union?
For years both the European Union and the United States have suffered lackluster growth and deficient innovation. This is basically because their economic space individually is not large enough and (despite WTO negotiations), they cannot freely sell their wares in the outside world. China’s market is closed except to those who invest with a Chinese partner. The coming together of a Western economy of 800 million middle class consumers creates the market power to accelerate growth and trade on both sides of what has now become an ‘Atlantic Channel.’
4. There are some high-profile public figures such as Hillary Clinton who have endorsed this plan. Can you share who has expressed support for the idea of a U.W./European union and why?
The idea of an economic union between Europe and the United States goes back to Clarence Streit, Jean Monnet, and Jacques Delors. In the EU, outlines were sketched in the 1990s. But it was Angela Merkel’s proposal to George Bush in December, 2006, that started the ball moving. Today, Barack Obama has endorsed an economic association that would counterbalance China and help rejuvenate the United States. Hillary Clinton has been a stout defender and many Republicans, even Mitt Romney are on board. All agree that greater trade will lead to greater growth.
5. The European Union has had some public difficulties of their own, including unemployment rates over 25% in Spain and dropping GDP. What would you say to those who would point to these occurrences, with the position that joining with them would be more problematic than helpful?
Greater economic size facilitates the mobility of capital and other factors of production. High unemployment in Spain has reflected the limits on labor mobility even in the otherwise open E.U. European industry needs another continent to sell to, and given mercantilist restrictions, it will not be in China. The United States also faces a too limited market. When the Thirteen Colonies expanded westward, they wanted new land, new resources and new population to drive American growth. Joining with the European Union today, the United States welds democratic, relatively wealthy and historical cognate cultures back together to create a potent and attractive combination in world politics..