If someone were to open up a door and view Europe in 2010, and come back six years later to view Europe in the summer of 2016.....he'd basically say that things are fairly chaotic, in some change-dynamic, and fearful of some shift in public mood today.
It doesn't matter where you look, there's some heavy themes at work.
In the UK, there's talk of disconnecting from the EU, and the vote in a few weeks will determine that. No one can be sure of the outcome, and there's some harsh circumstances being talked about.
In Austria.....the election results from yesterday are unknown still (2,800 vote separate the far-right candidate from the Green leader at present). The two center parties? Well....the public frustration with them blanked out their normal 50-to-60 percent of the national vote in the primary run-up (between them.....they got 22-percent).
In France, terrorism is on everyone's mind....twenty-four hours a day. There could be several thousand radical Muslim guys in the country. If you look at the changes implemented over the past six months.....civil rights have been carved out and people asking tough questions of the political process.
In Germany? A majority would like for the Chancellor to quietly go, and have some change dynamic thrown into the system. Neither the CDU or the SPD can successfully spin enough gimmicks to make people happy at present.
Regionally, I can go through at least six other countries which are looking at public frustration with their current government and the theme of bureaucrats at work.
Where does this all lead?
I think there are three essential issues that people looking upon and can't get a clear vision of the future.
First, news organizations are being questioned more than ever over their "news", their possible manipulation, their truthfulness, and their way of telling a story. It doesn't matter if you are in Poland, France, Germany or the UK.....journalists are putting themselves into a unflattering light. Maybe it's just an accident, or maybe it's simply the fact that the public has gotten smarter and wiser over issues.
Second, there are a fair number of people throughout Europe who see themselves and their nation as some 'savior' for the tired, the poor, the migrant refugee, etc. "We can save them all" is a theme that you see in various circles, and there's no limit to the nature of their goodwill. The general problem is that there are vast numbers of people in the world who are disenchanted and if just twenty million made the decision to head off to Europe.....they might be welcomed by one segment of European society, and find a second segment in total disagreement over helping those twenty-odd million enter and assimilate into the affected area. Neither group sees a middle-ground.
Third and final....you get this odd feeling that most countries in the EU have been on auto-pilot and just cruising along for the past decade or two. You look at leadership and what you see are characters with a five-line resume who did well enough to get votes, but can't deliver real leadership in chaotic times. If you have a slate of five different candidates in front of you....it's really just a contest of five folks with weak and marginal resumes.....and you are picking the best of the lesser choices to lead a nation......the repeating this process across each nation in the EU.
All of this leading off to some war-dynamic? No. This isn't 1914 or 1932.
Economically, most European countries are in a positive economic situation currently (NOT Greece, but then Greece isn't exactly built to be a positive economic power). Most countries have a decent employment number, and showing some vision on keeping their public happy even if it a fraud.
To be honest, all of the European countries have built themselves down to such an extent, that they can't threaten anyone....even a neighboring country.
One of the odder things is that if you look across the landscape of Europe today....various internal differences exist to such a degree....that break-up's of countries is more likely....than war conflicts of one nation against another. A number of cultures would like to manage their own destiny or lay out their path to the future instead of formed up as one single nation.
I will put this label upon the whole scene. Imagine if you will....Lewis and Clark on the far eastern side of the unknown in 1804, and having only a vague idea of where they will be in a year or two....yet not hesitating or worrying about some fear of the future. That is where we are today in Europe.....on the verge of the unknown, and I think most would say they might like to stay around a while.....to see where things end up.