Western Europe in World Affairs: Continuity, Change, and Challenge

Western Europe in World Affairs: Continuity, Change, and Challenge

Western Europe in World Affairs: Continuity, Change, and Challenge

Western Europe in World Affairs: Continuity, Change, and Challenge

Excerpt

This book is organized to emphasize the correlations between the nation-states in Western Europe and the world military and economic political systems. The logic of the world military system is conflict and rivalry between the two Great Powers, the United States and the Soviet Union, and their intermittent accords to de- limit the conflicts and zones of influence. The logic of the world economic system is the struggle for competition and innovation in order to achieve individual affluence and collective prosperity. The European nation-states are sovereign, and they claim to set independent policies--foreign, industrial, monetary, and defense. Thus, Western Europe is a fragmented area.

What has become of this group of nation-states after the turmoil of World War II and the partition of Europe? What are the factors of continuity, change, and challenge?

Chapter 1 isolates the principal changes that occurred since 1945 in world politics and economics. Two changes relate to internal conditions. The West European population is affluent, thanks to its education, ability, and skills. This population, in demographic terms, is stagnant: hedonism is a general attitude. Low birth rates correspond in part to women's larger share of the labor market. Other changes relate to international relations: the Soviet Union's consolidation and expansion as a great military power; decolonization and European dependence upon primary energy imports, notably from the Middle East; the rise of the Pacific area, with Japan as a major industrial competitor; the central role of the United States in world politics.

Chapter 2 is devoted to the nation-states, their societies, structures, and economies. The complex interdependence of these states is established. The role of both bilateral and multilateral relations is analyzed.

Chapter 3 describes in broad terms the economic system, Western Europe being viewed as one of the three poles of the Western economic system together with, and in some respects after, the United States and Japan. The area has become self-sufficient in agriculture, but at a price. Industrial interdependence with the United States and Japan is examined by sector. Emphasis is put on competitiveness, performance, and innovation.

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