Friday, October 12, 2012

Peace

However shaky the European Union is today, whatever its deficiencies, it still deserved the Nobel Peace Prize, for its contributions to peace over decades.

As Thorbjorn Jagland, the former Norwegian prime minister stated in announcing the award: “The stabilizing part played by the E.U. has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace.”

In my house, where my kids are studying the arguments over ratification of the U.S. Constitution in their government class, I remind them how lucky we are to have decided more than 200 years ago to adopt a strong federal government. The Europeans, by contrast, are still having that debate today. And to a lesser extent, we are still having it too, though it is interesting to note that American political parties have switched sides, with Jefferson's party (which started out as anti-federalists) now generally advocating a powerful federal government, and Lincoln's party (which started out as favoring a strong union) now more in favor of giving greater power to the states. (I wonder how surprised Lincoln and Jefferson would be to see that reversal.)

With the glaring exception of the Civil War, caused by failing to resolve the issue of slavery in our Constitution, our federal system has generally kept peace among the states for over 200 years. We can only hope for the continued success of the European Union in keeping the peace on that continent as well.

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