If you want to understand what the European project fundamentally is, and how the European Union got to this point, you should read Todd Huizinga’s book. “The New Totalitarian Temptation: Global Governance and the Crisis of Democracy in Europe” is a must-read.
“The New Totalitarian Temptation” is the first book to identify the essence of the EU in a utopian vision of a supranationally governed world. Their aim is to achieve universal peace through a global legal order.
Todd Huizinga joined the Acton Institute in February 2014 as Director of International Outreach. For twenty years, from 1992-2012, he was a U.S. diplomat. He has extensive experience in Europe. He has been deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Luxembourg, political counselor at the U.S. Mission to the European Union in Brussels, consul for political and economic affairs at the U.S. consulates in Hamburg and Munich, and consul for public affairs at the U.S. consulate in Monterrey, Mexico. He also served at embassies and consulates in Dublin, Frankfurt and Costa Rica, and in the European Affairs Bureau of the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C.
Huizinga is married with three children, and is a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan. His B.A. in Music and German from Calvin College was followed up by an M.A. in German Language and Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Dwight L. Schwab, Jr. talks to Todd Huizinga about the book here.
Dwight L. Schwab, Jr.: What exactly is the European Union?
Todd Huizinga: What are human beings like and what is the best political system that will work? In that way, it mirrors other “political Utopias” like “Communism and Fascism.” Through politics, they’re trying to build the best world they can. I call the E.U. a “soft Utopia” since it is not a police state or totalitarian regime. Unfortunately it won t work as we continually see Europe with all kinds of new problems. The Euro crisis, the migrant crisis, the danger of terrorism of course is getting worse and worse. Then there is the possibility of Great Britain leaving the E.U. All of these things are happening because Europe wants to govern above the nation/state level. The voters have little say and these things serve the political dreams instead of the economic reality. I think this is true, especially on the left, where the thought is to create national harmony by welcoming international organizations to create international law. The United Nations is a good thing promoting interchange and cooperation, but we should never allow international law to supersede the Constitution. U.S. citizens have agreed to base their government on the Constitution and not an international government.
Schwab: Although the next question was not on my original script, from what you describe and the dangers therein, of the five candidates left running for president, who do you think would rise to the occasion concerning these problems?
Huizinga: Well, I am a conservative and I will say this: A person running for that office must adhere to the wording of the Constitution rather than interpreting it in their own way.
Schwab: It sounds like you would favor Ted Cruz. He adheres to the strict meaning in the Constitution. I think we can eliminate Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. It comes down to Kasich, Cruz or Trump.
Huizinga: I don t have a working knowledge of their views on the Constitution, but I think I can say it would be between Kasich and Cruz.
Schwab: You cite a change in relations between the E.U. and non-E.U. member, Turkey. Can you explain that?
Huizinga: Turkey has always been both a problem and a positive for the E.U. There are many members that think Turkey would be a great addition since they already are a member of NATO. They hope it would help in Turkey s democratization. The second reason that comes mostly from the left is many in the E.U. think Turkey joining them would eliminate the label that they are a white, Christian union. Unfortunately, Turkey on a cultural plain is not within the boundaries of the European style of government. The E.U. has reached its limit as to its European-style borders. They have not been able to reach an agreement with the Turkish government to partially weaken its sovereignty as part of membership rules. Now we have this agreement between the E.U. and Turkey on the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe. It is an act of desperation for the E.U. being overrun by millions of North African and Middle Eastern peoples to reach more peaceful lands. The E.U. has promised to streamline Turkey s membership application.
Schwab: Explain the Eurozone and the chaos in Greece. It seems to be where all the turmoil in Europe began.
Huizinga: Yeah, absolutely. That question really exemplifies what a write in the book. The Euro, the common currency of 19 of the 28 members, was a political idea, not one of economics. When the matter was first discussed, many people said Europe has not been able to find unity through the front door. Voters were reluctant to the idea of a common currency. It was affirmed that besides an economic solution, it was a fiscal matter as well as a budget situation. Common taxation would demand unification in many ways for the countries involved. Again, the motivation was politics, not economics. The Euro was introduced and it still did not promote unity. Along came the economic crisis of 2008 exposing the weaknesses in the European economy which provided the impossibility of uniting countries with completely different levels of productivity. For instance, take Greece and Germany. The interest rates were too low for the Greeks and too high for Germans. Germany and other wealthy countries are put in the position of bailing out countries like Greece because the Euro was too strong for a weak economy.
Schwab: Can Greece survive as an E.U. member?
Huizinga: That is such an interesting and open question. The E.U. is doing what it has done with many problems. They choose to basically muddle through the Greek problem and keep the status quo hopefully avoiding disaster. In other words, the richer countries of Europe are committing themselves to bailing out Greece in perpetuity. There is no sign the Greeks are ever going to repay their debt. In the medium, the Greeks will stay in the E.U., keep the Euro as their currency, but the way life is, other countries will continue to prop up the country. So what kind of climate does that create for Europe? There is more hostility in Europe with the Euro rather the peace and harmony, which was the original idea. That is what happens between debtors and creditors. Unfortunately, that will be the norm in the foreseeable future. The question is will Europe survive this economic environment? That is an open question.
Schwab: That brings a follow-up question concerning Great Britain. It’s common knowledge that the country has been overrun with Muslims that has created great strife between native British citizens and the foreign cultures that continues to grow. In connection with the E.U., is this ongoing migrant crisis; is there any end to it? Take Turkey for an example. They have agreed to take back thousands and thousands of migrants trapped in Greece because Europe no longer welcomes them.
Huizinga: Well, the migrant crisis is another example of the E.U. not consulting their voters. The E.U., governing above the nation/state level has accepted these refugees because they want the world to see they are open and tolerant. It has it merits on the one hand, but then you have countries like Germany who allowed over a million of these people to enter their country last year. With their population, that is the equivalent of the United States allowing over five million into our country. The voters are saying this is changing our culture and our way of life by letting so many people in. They belong to a culture that is very different. Voters also see the attacks in France last November and the one in Belgium last week. The new fear is whether or not those being taken in could be sympathetic to ISIS. That was the case in both France and Belgium terror attacks. Now the European countries are backtracking and beginning to focus on solving the Middle Eastern situation that brings this migrant crisis in the first place. They also are beginning to accept that military-might is an option worth considering. Groups like ISIS are not going away with nice words and good intentions. As long as the Middle East is in chaos, there will be refugees.
Schwab: You intimate that ground troops will be necessary led by the United States. We can agree that such a scenario will never happen under Obama. Would you expect the next president to adopt that plan? A real coalition of countries unlike the mythical 64 nations Obama continually speaks of when he explains his ISIS strategy. Would it be to incorporated the Muslims, maybe NATO? What is your suggestion in stopping ISIS?
Huizinga: I will not claim I have all the answers. But I think we must keep the option open to stop a horrible, barbaric terrorist organization before they turn the Middle East into permanent chaos. ISIS reached a point of strength that the civilized world has no idea where they will strike next and with what level of viciousness. It seems like it s getting close to that as it is. Lately we have San Bernadino, Paris, Pakistan, Brussels and Turkey terror attacks. There becomes a likelihood that force is the only answer and it should never be taken off the table of options available.
Schwab: European political parties are in decline all across the continent. They are being replaced by protest parties. What is your view of that?
Huizinga: European voters are waking up; for instance, the Eurozone crisis. Since the May, 2014 elections, Europeans want to have politicians who genuinely care about their concerns. They feel the current pro-E.U. parties are chasing this parity and unity regardless of what voters think. The protest parties are saying they only want the E.U. if it is democratically accountable. The German government is primarily responsible for Germans, the French government with the French, etc. The mindset of the E.U. is the direct cause for the rise of these protest parties. The next questions are if these so-called protest parties are legitimate or are they simply far-left or far-right in nature? But many are independent and I think they will change European politics for quite some time.
Schwab: You served as a U.S. diplomat from 1992 to 2012. That took you through the administrations of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and right up until the Obama administration took power in 2009. Did your position change with each administration, was it the same? What was the overall environment for you?
Huizinga: Well, you know U.S. foreign policy has been bi-partisan. Americans basically agree that U.S. interests overseas are not the same as U.S. interests domestically. For example, NATO is in place to protect us from the old Soviet Union and to promote democracy and the rule of law. That bi-partisanship is beginning to weaken as the growing divide between Republicans and Democrats widens. Bi-partisanship should continue with the agreement we are the leader of the free world. I fear that role of the United States is breaking down.
Schwab: Your title, Director of International Outreach at the Acton Institute; what does that exactly mean?
Huizinga: The Acton Institute is named after Lord Acton who was a British historian in the 19th century who was a real thinker of government and human freedom. The Acton Institute promotes the free and virtuous society. In other words, we promote human freedom, economic freedom, religious freedom, political freedom and civic virtue. For freedom to be sustainable, you have to have a citizenry dedicated to virtuous lives and doing the right thing that enables their society. I, as their Director of International Research, promote that vision overseas. I have worked quite a bit in Europe, Latin America and elsewhere to promote civic virtue and freedom.
Schwab: Thank you for your time sir.
Huizinga: Thank you.