In some quarters, there is an odd aversion toward the explicit acknowledgement that the European Union has been in relative economic freefall compared to the rest of the world over the past several decades.

As an example, in his 2011 book The Future of Power, Joseph Nye – a professor at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and a senior official in the Carter, Clinton, and Obama administrations – writes the following in the context of Europe's ongoing "smart power":

In the 1980s, analysts spoke of Euro-sclerosis and a crippling malaise, but in the ensuing decades Europe showed impressive growth and institutional development.

Impressive growth?  From 1980 to 2010 (the year before Nye's book was published), the countries of the European Union averaged less than 2 percent real GDP growth.  From 1990 to 2010, the average performance was even worse: just 1.9 percent real annual GDP growth.  Since 2010, the annual average is less than one percent.

But more relevant to the point about Europe's "smart power," the EU's share of the global economy collapsed over this period.

Some may forget that in 1980, the EU countries made up more than 30 percent of the world's economy, a significantly larger percentage than the United States at that time (22 percent).

Since then, there has been a steady erosion of the EU's economic weight, to such an extent that its share is now less than 17 percent – in an effective tie with the U.S.  China now makes up as large a piece of the world economy as the EU.

Economic power underlies both soft power and hard power.  Consequently, the EU's power quotient is evaporating as we speak, and the problems are far greater than just the troubles of a few small states (notably Greece).  If Europeans desire near geopolitical irrelevance, their "goal" is fast approaching.  If they do not, then the time has come for the EU member-states to ask themselves some very tough questions.

The largest threat to Western civilization is the apparent unwillingness to acknowledge the magnitude of the problems we face, especially how far we have declined in terms of relative economic influence since the 1980s.  The first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem – a step that it appears many progressives do not want to take.